People & Culture

Agile HR in Practice: What it Means for Employee Experience

agile hr in practice

The age of digital disruption ushers in a radical shift in the way organisations perceive HR, hierarchy, and talent management. The early adopters of the lean methodology are replacing the traditional, one-dimensional, and sluggish processes with an agile framework that focuses solely on increasing efficiency and enabling continuous improvement.

The agile doctrine was initially designed to remove the bottlenecks and improve collaboration between the software development teams. Since then, it has been adopted by progressive organisations to reinvent how HR should function to attract, retain, and develop their skilled employees. With these people-centric organisations kicking their competitors to the curb, it’s becoming increasingly critical for others to pick up the pace and exhibit agile HR in practice.

In a 2017 Deloitte survey, 94% of companies reported that agility and collaboration are critical to their organisation’s success, and 79% of all global executives rated agile performance management as a high organisational priority.

Agile HR implies more co-creation, greater flexibility, constantly evolving solutions, and better adaptability between processes, employees, and projects to allocate finite resources responsibly.

agile HR in practice

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The underlying principle is simple – identify the problem at its source and work your way up to ensure maximum flexibility. The solutions should be co-designed, tested, and frequently improvised to maintain coherence and relevance.

When it comes to employee experience, in practice, agile HR works broadly with systematic recruitment, defining shorter work cycles, ensuring autonomy and cross-functional collaboration, streamlining review meetings, and allowing more time for reflection and learning.

Agile Recruitment

The very first interaction between the candidate and the organisation sets the tone for the entire employee experience. Several factors contribute to the process of attracting, hiring, and onboarding skilled employees, but organisations with agile HR at the helm enjoy a distinct advantage over the rest.

  • Setting the standard set of rules and protocols aside, recruiters must be on the lookout for breakthrough talents even before the needs arise.
  • The ‘right fit‘ doesn’t only imply the ‘right set of skills’; it also incorporates culture, attitude, and value fit.
  • Streamline the post-interview feedback process to ensure that the candidates are receiving helpful feedback at regular intervals.
  • Stand apart from other recruiters by instilling a sense of belonging in the employees. That can be done through employee branding, being transparent about the company’s vision and missions, etc.
  • Customise the onboarding process so that the employee fits into the ongoing operations in a matter of days. Give them access to resources, training materials, and maintain a continuous dialogue with them to get feedback during and after onboarding.

Agile Leadership

The new-age workforce demands an evolved way of working with flatter hierarchical structure and increased self-leadership. They do not shy away from responsibility and accountability, which may give rise to frictions if the leaders are not mature enough to provide them with space and freedom.

  • Agile leaders should be trained to coach the employees rather than ‘managing’ them. People respond to positive criticism and encouragement, which motivates them to perform better and reach their potential.
  • During project allocation, leaders should ensure that the teams are comprised of the right people with the right set of skills.
  • Leaders should always be available, listen to their employees and prioritise their tasks keeping in mind the needs of their people. They must have the time and ability to talk to individuals and groups about their current state of mind.
  • They must equip their teams with appropriate ammunition that will allow them to operate independently.

Agile Employee Feedback Process

One of the standard old-school practices that the organisations are scrapping is the annual employee feedback process. Those surveys render no viable results as the data collected are already outdated and too complex to analyse.

  • Gather insights into your employees’ feelings and well-being in real-time with specialised tools that can analyse and produce the results in real-time. Leaders can leverage the information and predictions provided by the tool to act on time, even before the problems arise.
  • Ditch the outdated processes and paperwork to work in a much more efficient way with automated pulse surveys that can track the engagement, satisfaction, and happiness levels of the employees.
  • Seek feedback from the employees frequently and at optimal touchpoints, for example, after company-wide transitions or events that can potentially induce dissatisfaction.

Agile Performance Management

Performance management is a crucial process that can arguably have the most impact on your employee experience. Without a healthy dose of agility, it can end up being process-heavy and ineffective.

The first step is to train the leaders so that they can guide the employees to align their goals to the organisation’s vision and objectives and keep track of the progress through regular conversations and feedback exchange.

  • Equip leaders with convenient tools that will make it easier for them to assign tasks, track progress, and make impromptu changes if necessary.
  • Scrap the annual performance reviews and focus more on encouraging the employees through ongoing conversations and check-ins. This will allow them to reflect on the tasks or goals after each cycle and learn from the results.
  • Frequent one-on-ones will allow the leaders and the employees to have more development discussions instead of review meetings, which will help create a connected workplace where everyone feels valued and respected.
  • ‘Upward’ feedback is equally important in an agile organisation. Allow your employees to share their thoughts and opinions in a safe environment.
  • Provide more opportunities for skills development and training for the leaders and the employees.

 

Working with agile HR is about effectively influencing the employee experience at the organisation, down to the individual level. Implemented well, HR can work with real-time employee satisfaction insights to identify the core issues and take actions immediately. By visualising the data in graphs, reports and key figures, they are given the opportunity to demonstrate the extent to which their work creates business value, and thus the issue gets the bearing it deserves.

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Pritama is the Content Marketing Manager at Winningtemp. An advocate for employee mental health, she is passionate about making workplaces fun, productive, and full of positive energy. That's surprising, considering her obsession with Stephen King and the psychological horror genre!

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