Playing now

Playing now

Strength in agility: 4 ways HR and People teams can revolutionize ways of working

Back to search results

Female architect using a smartphone

In our personal lives, very easy to turn on a dime. Whether we simply change our minds, or an external factor plays its part, we can decide that we need to change course and act upon it.

Yet when it comes to business, it’s much harder to do. In fact, for HR it seems many teams simply aren’t set up to do so. Just 29% of 500 global HR and People leaders told us they were organized for agility, in our recent research report – and that was before the global pandemic.

In
reality, it means that just one in three HR and People leaders were well
equipped to act when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Agility
means being capable of moving quickly and responsively – exactly what’s needed to
cope with disruption. While pandemic has changed how we work in so many ways, disruption
is ever-present in more normal times too, in today’s fast-moving global
marketplace.

For
HR, this means running the HR and People function and the business in a way
that seeks to be fast, nimble, flexible and frictionless.

While
agile methodologies – often used in software development – are helpful for
teams, you don’t have to use the full methodology in order to become more
agile.

So,
how can you go about harnessing agility in your HR function? Here’s four key
areas HR and People teams can focus on to adopt more agile ways of working.

1.
Agile communications

Would
you say your organization communicates effectively?

For organizations, the key to communicating well is through targeted and simple ways that resonate. So when it comes to agility for businesses, that means opening lines of communication across multiple functions, which enables the workforce to interact quickly and clearly in response to fast-changing situations.

HR and People systems with a built-in portal can be a great way for organizations to communicate to their people. They allow you to communicate instantly and provide targeted and personalized messaging for employees. It might include a news board, policies or links to training sessions. You can also send push messages to alert employees when important new information is available, and importantly, employees have everything in one place.

Don’t
forget that communication should always be two-way. It’s easy to get caught in
the trap of sending one-way messages and not asking for feedback. You need to
understand how your employees think and feel, and the only way to do that is by
asking them.

Feedback doesn’t go to waste. In fact, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are nearly five times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

2.
Agile leadership

Are
you a leader who embraces agility?

In
today’s ever-changing environment, agile leaders need to create an environment
where cross-functional teams collaborate, step out from silos and learn from
each other. In addition, great agile leaders seek feedback, and have the right
tools to focus on productivity and continuous development.

While
true agile teams maybe cross-functional and blended, that doesn’t mean that
traditional organizations can’t respond as quickly as those who operate as a
flexible network. They can still move towards a more agile way of operating.

So
how can your managers start to lead with agility in mind? It’s all about
nurturing a great experience for employees.

Naturally,
as humans, we dislike change so you’ll need to support your people to embrace
it. Think: two-way communication, regular check-ins, and effective goals. If you
can help managers do that, your employees are more likely to be on board with
changes before getting into a new rhythm of working.

3.
Agile workstyles

It’s a fact: employers who support agile workstyles are more productive. For the US, 85% of workers believe productivity has increased in their business because of greater flexibility.

Working
flexibly often gets confused with remote working but it can include job
sharing, part-time, compressed hours, flexitime, working from home and
contingent working.

While
some organizations have encouraged this for years, more traditional businesses
are realizing the benefits that agile workstyles can have on employee
engagement, particularly as technology has evolved to make it possible to be just
as productive away from the office.

However,
new and resilient ways of working require different support from organizations
and leaders to ensure success.

Do
you actively encourage workers and managers to promote flexible working? Give
them tools and systems that make it easy to stay connected and collaborate from
anywhere. Additionally, think about reforming work policies so everyone knows
what’s expected of them in terms of hours, targets, meeting times, teamwork and
communication.

4.
Agile performance management

How
do you track and manage performance?

In
a more agile workplace, employees may work on shorter-term projects of
different lengths. They may have different managers for these and work across
functions to form effective teams. For that very reason, old-style performance
management models, such as the annual appraisal, are on their way out.

An
annual performance management process simply isn’t agile enough to meet the
business needs of today, when priorities shift rapidly due to changes in the
market. Individual objectives need to contribute directly to current company
goals which can shift and evolve throughout the year.

To
deliver great agile performance management, continuous conversations is an
important ingredient. Managers should check in with their employees on a
regular basis to find out about how they’re tracking towards their goals, their
general wellbeing, any roadblocks they have in getting something done or any
good news to share.

Managers
should also encourage development and innovation. Agile organizations aren’t
comfortable with the status quo if it’s no longer effective, so managers should
consider the value behind testing and changing the way things have been done
before, if there’s a possibility that it could be more effective.

Agile performance management leaves employees feeling empowered and reflects in their work. Staggeringly, Employees whose managers involve them in goal setting alone are over three times more likely to be engaged then employees who aren’t involved.

Agility
starts with you

How
will your organization become more agile?

While
contingency plans and resilience measures have been key to help companies
recover and adapt in response to the global pandemic, you can’t plan precisely
for every possibility. An agile culture across the whole organization makes it
easier to respond to market challenges of all kinds.

If
HR adapts to focus on an agile approach towards communication, leadership,
workstyles and performance management, they’ll be able to steer the
organization on a different course as and when they need to.

By
fostering an agile concept across the entire workforce, your business can stay
ahead and become more  resilient in the
face of change.

 

 

 

 

The changing face of HR

Download this free report from Sage and discover how the modern HR function is vital to an organization's growth and success

Get your free report

Subscribe to the Sage Advice Newsletter

Get a roundup of our best business advice in your inbox every month.