Agile working – so much more than flexible hours

Human Resources 3rd March 2021

If the world of work has learned one thing from the global pandemic, it’s that nothing is for certain. Just think back 12 months. We were all a little puzzled and bemused – perhaps a mite concerned. What was this coronavirus that appeared intent on gatecrashing our lives? How worried should we be? Well, now we know. The world is emerging cautiously from 12 months of tragedy, upheaval and inconvenience.

In business, we’ve learned lessons – some of them harsh, some enlightening – doubtless with many more to come. It’s the role of HR to play its part in implementing these lessons and ensuring the most valuable assets of any business – its employees – are equipped to meet head-on the challenges that we face.

There’s one lesson, or perhaps ‘revolution’ is a better term, which is gaining speed. It’s the concept of Agile HR. Many will be aware of the concept of ‘agile’ in the workplace, believing it’s little more than flexible hours or team working methodologies. In fact, there’s a lot more to agility than that.

Agile – prioritising work based on value

The idea of ‘agile’ originated in the IT sector. It’s an approach and set of principles whereby we train to use incremental, iterative work sequences to build products and services that are of higher quality and have faster delivery times. Agile helps us to prioritise our work based on value  – also to clearly articulate what we’re delivering to the business and why we’re doing it. The concept is now spreading across all parts of the business world. Agile HR is about engaging employees to build self-motivation and encourage collaboration. It’s measured in terms of employee satisfaction levels and trust among colleagues.

A couple of years back, Deloitte reported that one in four UK employees said they weren’t performing at their best. Almost one third admitted that they didn’t feel engaged with their work. This is surely a signal that many age-old HR methods have now expired. There’s no better time to look closely at the potential of implementing agile in the workplace.

How does HR become agile?

What does agile HR mean for HR policies? Here are a few examples –

1. Rethinking traditional appraisals – IBM has recently overhauled its appraisal system. When building a product or delivering a service, agile promotes constant feedback and open dialogue. So, why shouldn’t this be the case with employees? Why should they have to wait six months for a review before they’re informed whether they’re performing well or badly? IBM believes that employee engagement is behind two-thirds of a customer’s satisfaction. So – surely we should be introducing fresh organisational frameworks that prioritise the employee experience and employee satisfaction.

2. Review your bonus structure – Not long ago, a major UK financial services company closed their tired old remuneration committee method of awarding bonuses. Instead, they encouraged employees at all levels to nominate colleagues who deserved a bonus. Agile advocates a general end to top-down management structures. Agile promotes empowering employees and building consensus. This fresh, agile approach ends the culture of entitlement, puts a stop to HR colluding with senior management. Instead, it leads to teams being awarded bonuses together, a group, reinforcing collaboration and consensus.

Review, modernise, refresh, transform

There are many other ways in which HR practices can be transformed into becoming more agile. The key is to review, to modernise, to refresh and ultimately to put your employees’ satisfaction at the heart of what you do.

Increasingly, companies who adopt the agile approach to HR are reporting improved employee morale and an enhanced ability to attract top talent.


Are you prepared to consider the transformational step of switching to agile working? Is agile a concept that could work for your business? Why not talk to us about the idea. Here at Gravitas HR, we love innovation, and we’re to help you explore all HR options for you or for your business.

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