Question Timothy Business & Management

HRM Policy Goals identified by Guest

What are the four HRM policy goals identified by Guest (1989)?

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During the 1960s and 1970s, HR managers saw their role as tough, masculine negotiators as management considered the earlier HRM approach of ‘welfare of employees’ as too ‘soft’ and incompatible with the mainstream organisational objectives (Stredwick, 2013). This ‘hard’ approach was considered as a mistake as it led to period of confrontation – between management and employees - and unionisation, which subsequently resulted in poor productivity and loss of competitiveness (Stredwick, 2013). Resultantly, the welfare approach – although in a different guise – returned in the 1990s. In this context, Guest (1989) outlined four main HRM policy goals.

According to Guest (1989), HRM should firstly encourage the commitment of employees towards high performance and instil loyalty among them towards the organisation as a whole. Secondly, HRM should focus upon quality of staff through their recruitment and selection efforts, as only good quality staff can produce good quality products and service. Thirdly, Guest (1989) asserts that HRM should ensure that there should be flexibility in the way the entire workforce is organised, in terms of the hours they work, their jobs, and the way in which they work. The purpose of this flexibility is to ensure that the workforce retains the ability to be adaptive and receptive to all forms of change. Lastly, and most importantly, the HRM should integrate these policy goals into strategic planning to make HR policies ‘cohere both across policy areas and across hierarchies’ (Guest, 1989 p.49).

To make these policies work, Guest (1989) contends that these goals need to be accepted by line managers as part of their day to day work. Moreover, these policy goals should be supported by top organisational leadership and a strong organisational culture that values the utilisation of human resource in achieving success.


Guest, D. (1989) Personnel and human resource management: can you tell the difference? Personnel Management, January, p. 48-51

Stredwick, J (2013). An Introduction to Human Resource Management. London: Routledge.