Agile HR: Putting People First


We are experiencing unprecedented times, which have rapidly changed long-established ways of working.  There is no going back and now is a good time to start thinking about the future, with people front and centre.

Whatever decisions you are making, you’ve got an individual at the other end dealing with their personal situation. By thinking ‘people first’, you are likely to have a far stronger, engaged and productive workforce in the longer term, better placing the organisation to bounce back stronger than ever. The humans who need you right now are the people who are keeping your business running.

r10 released the Agile HR: Putting People First paper that explores how you can use Agile HR to help you in the current situation. For more detail, you can download the paper or get in touch.

An introduction to Agile HR

Agile has expanded from its home in software development and now is a significant opportunity for HR to embrace an agile approach to help manage these new challenges. These ideas are not about getting hung up on terminology or methodology. It is about putting people at the centre of everything you are doing.

A good starting point is to look at the Agile HR Manifesto, which highlights the mental shift required to work in a more agile way.


Collaborative Networks

Agile organisations put the needs of their customers first. For HR, this means it can flex and adapt according to priorities, working together across the organisation, rather than in functional silos.

What this might mean:

  • Purpose-built, cross-functional teams.
  • Separating crisis management from innovation i.e. doing things differently.
  • Flex membership according to need.
  • Incorporate feedback.



Personal information will always be confidential. However, outside of this, the default should be transparency, not secrecy.

What this might mean:

  • Clear, quick comms.
  • Easy to find, one source of truth.
  • Say when you don’t know.
  • What is being done?
  • Solicit feedback and allow questions.
  • Just-in-time action, not just in case.
  • Forgo internal style for speed.
  • Publish FAQs.
  • Link directly to government guidelines.



Being adaptable means seeing opportunities to do something better rather than reasons to say no. Doing the way it has always been done is no longer valid if it does not meet the needs of your people.

What this might mean:

  • Approach every suggestion as why not?
  • Treat requests as mini-experiments, agree on outcomes and get data to see if something is working.
  • Capture what works well.
  • If not, make changes and try again.
  • Co-create by working with impacted groups to find better ways.


Inspiration and Engagement

Show that the company cares about them as an individual by listening and supporting now. It will result in greater loyalty in the future.

What this might mean:

  • Listen to what people are telling you.
  • Actively stay in touch and check on wellbeing (line manager may not be best for this).
  • Treating people fairly and not by spreadsheets is an opportunity to build engagement for when growth happens.


Intrinsic motivation

Allow people purpose and autonomy over their daily working lives means a more productive, inspired and engaged workforce compared with those who are told what to do, when and how.

What this might mean:

  • Recognise financial rewards may no longer be possible.
  • Focus on purpose, mastery and autonomy.
  • Capture this to help solve current challenges.
  • Solicit volunteers to get involved in other ways to help the organisation. 



Create an environment where people can be the best version of themselves because they want to be. What this means for each individual will be different.

What this might mean:

  • Recognise people may have different priorities, especially if caring for others or in a vulnerable group.
  • Looking after family/themselves more important than a monthly report that may not be read.
  • Flexibility now will be repaid later.
  • All trying to find the “right way” through this.


By embracing an agile mindset, changing ways of working, co-creating the employee experience, capturing evidence and shifting to value-driven change, agile can transform how HR operates. It is an opportunity for HR to lead by example and drive people-centric agile organisations, designed to promote collaboration throughout and help the business as a whole work more effectively. There are a variety of tools and methods to help you do this.

Do get in touch to find out more about how it could work for you or download the Agile HR: Putting People First paper for more details.

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