Agile is the way forward for all business functions, and HR is no different. Used primarily in the tech arena, the Agile methodology is used in the human resources sector to recruit, develop, and retain employees. Using an iterative approach to develop business workflows, Agile HR focuses on continuous collaboration in a manner that improves product speed to market, efficiency, and overall customer satisfaction.
When it comes to HR, Agile has been able to transform how managers and HR professionals interact with the workforce, design different programs using technology such as people analytics, and improve the overall employee experience by enabling continuous improvements in the pre-established systems and practices.
With the changing workplace dynamics, even the most traditional companies are realising the need for adopting Agility in HR.
Let’s explore how the most forward-thinking HR managers are slowly moving away from the traditional approaches and adopting Agile ways of working.
Agile HR: Leading the Way from 2020 Burnout to 2021 Breakthrough!
In every business, there are two parts to solving a problem: the first is to design the solution and the second is to support it across its lifecycle. In the software industry, the latter part is carried out by dedicated teams called DevOps. In the case of HR, this means continuously monitoring the employee policies, creating cross-functional service roles, and gathering as much feedback as possible so that the companies can tweak, improve and iterate their HR processes on the go.
The Agile philosophy allows HR teams to come up with adaptive and responsive processes that are able to meet current and future needs, especially in the context of digital transformation. It has allowed companies across different verticals to implement newer techniques of recruitment and employee retention.
Some Agile tools and techniques such as ‘Scrum’ provide the framework for faster product development. ‘Kanban’ is another agile process management system that can be applied to HR workflows in organisations of all scales.
Following are some of the benefits of applying Agile methods to the HR function across the organisations:
1. Deliver Value Faster:
Under Agile, planning happens fast and it happens in tandem with ongoing work. Every new system to be developed goes through a progression of steps – plan, develop, complete, test, and release. This is achieved through ‘Sprint’ which is a series of development cycles that run incrementally from project definition to completion. In simpler terms, it is a collaborative process, involving multiple departments, that starts with two foundational questions: What work can get done in this sprint and how will the chosen work get done? The process incorporates ongoing feedback from all stakeholders at every stage.
“With Scrum, a product is built in a series of iterations called sprints that break down big, complex projects into bite-sized pieces,” said Megan Cook, Group Product Manager for Jira Software at Atlassian.
2. Work in Chunks:
Most organisations have to handle large projects that can seem overwhelming for team members on the ground level. Agile calls for breaking a project into smaller chunks or segments, and distributing the workload across the team, based on the individual strength of each member.
3. Capacity, Not Speed:
Agile teams increase capacity by doing more in less amount of time. This is achieved by adopting the right resources, skills, tools, and knowledge. As a result of adopting Agile, companies are able to witness faster work cycles as there is proper sharing of work and reduction in waste.
4. Constant Workflow:
Learning by doing is the main principle of Agile. The HR department is able to work continuously and is also able to make the required changes to a set process by way of constant feedback. Even if any errors exist in a project or a process, they are identified and rectified early on in the project. This leaves less scope for error and rectification at the time of execution or delivery.
Implementing Agile in Offices in 2021
Here are certain areas of HR that can greatly benefit from the agile HR philosophy and help companies transition easily from traditional HR policies to the much-advanced techniques that are needed to sustain today:
Nothing dips a team’s morale more than conducting a full-fledged recruitment process and losing out on star candidates, only because the recruitment process was too lengthy and the turnaround time was more than expected, leading to frustration among the candidates.
Under Agile recruiting, there are not only more frequent touchpoints and shorter sprints but more frequent feedback cycles too, which gives the recruiters a chance to let go of unsuitable candidates earlier in the recruitment pipeline, rather than having to keep them hanging by a thread till the end and wasting everyone’s precious time. Constant communications, regular feedback, and frequent touchpoints all lead to better collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers.
Most of the employees who consider leaving an organisation do so because of job dissatisfaction which results from ineffective management and a lack of career prospects.
Under Agile HR philosophy, employees are included in the process of explaining the impact of adopting any new methodology to enrich the employees’ career path and the day to day working environment. Based on this, HRs can present the redesigned opportunities that employees can explore so that they feel more confident about their future prospects. Agile HR teams that put the focus on clearly defined career paths for employees can largely aid in lowering employee turnover.
3. Compensation & Benefits:
Employers have to fight tooth and nail to get quality talent in the well-versed millennial labour market of today. Employees have at their disposal all the information regarding current compensation and benefit standards, making them quite vocal when it comes to negotiating salaries. No one will be satisfied with less.
Consequently, companies have no choice but to adopt an agile compensation strategy that is in line with the current expectations of this workforce. An agile compensation strategy allows HR managers to quickly react to market shifts by doing away with dependencies and the number of approvals required.
4. Performance Management:
Traditional performance management techniques that entailed annual reviews and one-time/isolated feedback are passé. Agile performance management brings into perspective a culture of continuous feedback and improvement that help align employees to the overall business goals is the new trend.
Agile helps to quickly realign employee performance to the current short-term business opportunities, leading to profitability. A regular feedback system ensures employees are kept in the loop of their performances and thus promotes transparency and employee motivation to strive towards working better. There exists ‘in the moment’ feedback that encourages a collaborative working environment.
2020 was marked with burnout for organisations as well as employees in the aftermath of the global pandemic that brought to the forefront the necessity of novel ways of working and employee management. However, the year 2021 can prove to be a breakthrough for the HR industry with Agile practices and methodologies which is definitely becoming the norm!