High Road vs Low Road HR Practices: Which One is the Best?

High Road vs Low Road HR Practices

When it comes to human resource management, two distinct paths emerge, each promising a unique approach to handling workforce needs. They are the High Road and Low Road HR practices. But which one is best suited for your organization, and how do they impact the quality of jobs in your company? Let’s delve into these HR strategies and uncover their potential benefits and pitfalls.

Understanding High Road and Low Road HR Practices

High Road and Low Road HR Practices

The fundamental difference between high road and low road HR practices lies in their approach to job creation and employee management.

High Road HR Practices are built on the foundation of creating “great jobs”. They focus on enhancing employee skills, ensuring fair pay, and fostering a supportive, enriching work environment. These practices align with the belief that satisfied, well-trained employees are more productive, leading to improved company performance and growth.

On the other hand, Low Road HR Practices tend to create what can be called “good jobs”. This approach seeks to maximize efficiency and profits, often at the expense of employee training, development, and job satisfaction.

High Road HR Practices: The Highs and Lows

High Road HR Practices

High Road HR practices provide an optimistic approach to HR management. They believe in investing in employees, promoting their development, and creating a work environment that fosters satisfaction and engagement.

  1. Employee Development: High Road HR practices are all about nurturing employees, building their skills, and preparing them for career advancement within the organization. This not only improves job satisfaction but also reduces turnover rates.
  2. Fair Pay and Benefits: High road strategies tend to offer competitive wages and benefits, acknowledging the value of their employees’ work. This further enhances job satisfaction and employee loyalty.

However, the high road strategy is not without its downsides. The significant investment in employee training and development, along with high wages and benefits, may strain the company’s resources, particularly for small businesses or startups.

Low Road HR Practices: The Pros and Cons

Low Road HR Practices

Low Road HR practices, on the other hand, operate on the principle of cost minimization and operational efficiency. Here are some features of these practices:

  1. Operational Efficiency: Low road strategies focus on getting the most out of their employees while minimizing costs. This often leads to short-term financial success for the company.
  2. Ease of Implementation: Low road practices are easier to implement as they require less investment in employee development and often involve standardized work processes.

However, the low road approach can lead to lower job satisfaction and higher turnover rates, given the lack of focus on employee development and satisfaction.

High Road vs Low Road: Impact on Job Quality

High Road vs Low Road

The choice between high road and low road HR practices significantly affects job quality within a company. High road HR practices often result in “great jobs”. These are positions that offer competitive pay, opportunities for skill development, and a supportive work environment. Employees feel valued, leading to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and better overall company performance.

Conversely, low road HR practices tend to produce “good jobs”, characterized by standardized work processes, minimal skill development opportunities, and lower wages. Although this approach may lead to short-term financial success, it often results in lower job satisfaction and higher employee turnover in the long run.

Choosing the Right Path: High Road or Low Road HR Practices?

The decision between high road and low road HR practices ultimately depends on your company’s goals, resources, and culture.

If you aim to create a company that values its employees, invests in their development, and believes in their potential to drive the company’s success, then the high road strategy in HR might be the best fit. This approach aligns well with companies that view their employees as valuable assets and are willing to invest in their development.

On the contrary, if your focus is on short-term financial success and operational efficiency, the low road HR strategy may be more appropriate. However, companies should be cautious about the potential drawbacks of this approach, such as high employee turnover and lower job satisfaction.


The debate between high road and low road HR practices presents a pivotal decision for businesses. Both strategies come with their own sets of advantages and challenges, impacting job quality and the overall work environment in distinct ways.

Remember, the path you choose will significantly shape your company’s culture, employee satisfaction, and ultimately, its success. Whichever route you decide to take, ensure it aligns with your company’s vision and values, and creates an environment where employees can feel valued and thrive.


  • What are High Road HR Practices?

High Road HR practices focus on long-term gains by investing in employees, offering competitive wages, benefits, and creating a positive work environment.

  • What are Low Road HR Practices?

Low Road HR practices often focus on short-term gains, often at the expense of employees. This might include lower wages, fewer benefits, and high turnover rates.

  • How do High Road HR Practices impact employee retention?

High Road HR practices tend to lead to higher employee retention due to their focus on employee well-being and development.

  • Can Low Road HR Practices be beneficial for a business?

In the short term, Low Road HR Practices may lead to cost savings. However, in the long term, they can lead to high employee turnover, lower morale, and potential damage to the company’s reputation.

  • Are there specific industries where High Road or Low Road HR Practices are more prevalent?

The prevalence of High Road vs Low Road HR practices can vary by industry, company size, and even geographical location. It’s not industry-specific.

  • How can a company transition from Low Road to High Road HR practices?

Transitioning from Low Road to High Road HR practices involves strategic changes including revising compensation, improving working conditions, and investing in employee development.

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