Breaking down Agile HR – How an organisation can start being adaptable to put its people first?

Adaptability gives organisations the agility to see opportunities to do something better rather than reasons to say no. Ways of working are rapidly changing, and being flexible will only help organisations to put people first and come out with a more engaged and productive workforce. Doing the way it has always been done is no longer valid if it does not meet the needs of your people.

The situation is too fast-moving to be prescriptive. Everyone is learning through experience of what is working and what is not. Before, your first instinct may have been ‘No – because of x policy’, now there should be a shift to ‘Why not?’ For example, a colleague working from home may find that core business hours more of a challenge.


1. Agree on Outcomes

Rather than saying no, work with them to agree on outcomes in a way that works for them and review. An important element of an agile approach is that decision making is driven by data. Rather than the hunch that homeworking encourages reduced productivity, research such as this by Stanford shows greatly increased productivity.

2. Workforce Skills

Whilst some areas of your business may be seeing a significant downturn, others may be much busier. Think of the skills within your workforce (not forgetting contingent workers) that can be redeployed flexibly. Don’t presume you know what skills people have as for many, their current role or job description does not represent the breadth of their experience both inside and outside of the workplace.

3. Moving employees

Identify the skills you need and go straight out to your people and ask for them to self-nominate. Then get them moved to where you need them as soon as possible, without putting up barriers such as applications and interviews. You already work with them. Even if labelled poor performers in their current role, this could be their chance to shine in a new environment.

4. Enforced Experiment

Whatever you decide, treat this time as an enforced experiment, capturing what works well, what doesn’t and what needs to be improved to enable this to be a standard way of working. Incorporate these changes as you go to make the experience better for everyone quickly. This will set you up to be an agile organisation prepared for new ways of working, attractive to a more diverse and inclusive workforce in the future.

Adaptability over prescriptiveness is a fundamental and valued item in Agile HR. Read more about Agile HR fundamentals by downloading r10’s Agile HR: putting People First paper.