HR Innovation: The Need for HR Agility
Sharlyn Lauby

By: Sharlyn Lauby on November 8th, 2016

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HR Innovation: The Need for HR Agility

HR Operational Efficiency

Est. Read Time: 3 min.

In the first part of this series, we talked about how organizations need to define what talent means to them and how that definition impacts the employer-employee relationship. Organizations need to create cultures that will support the new employee-employer relationship. It also impacts the role of human resources.


need-for-hr-agility.pngEmployees want a say in their careers and how they work every day. HR departments must not only listen to employee feedback, but they must find methods that will allow them to anticipate employee needs. One way to do that is through HR agility.


In today’s work environment, agility has two meanings. The first is the traditional dictionary definition of “the ability to be quick and graceful.” The second is derived from agile project management. Agility being the division of larger tasks into short phases of work and conducting frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. Human resources needs to practice both kinds of agility and here are three ways they can do it.


1. Removing and reducing bureaucracy.

Let’s face it, sometimes HR has been characterized as the department of “no” by creating too many policies. And maybe not because they want to create a policy, but because someone says, “We need a policy.” To become more agile, HR needs to adopt the role of educator, always asking the question, “Do we really need a policy?”


Being an agile organization isn’t necessarily about having fewer policies. But the ones that the organization has are smarter. They are easy to communicate, easy to remember, and easy to share with others. Smarter policies also mean managers must be given the training and tools to hold employees accountable for demonstrating the values of the organization.


2. Managing change.

We all know the business world is changing. It’s time to change outdated activities. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to eliminate old policies and procedures. For example, there’s a high-profile conversation happening regarding annual performance reviews. Organizations don’t have to eliminate the performance evaluation, but they do need to make sure that it aligns with the needs of today’s workforce.


If we use the performance evaluation example, an option that is being introduced to complement the existing annual review are pulse surveys. These are short online surveys that can be conducted regularly to gauge employee opinions and satisfaction. The key to adding pulse surveys successfully is teaching employees at every level of the organization to deliver effective feedback. Because good feedback leads to good organizational change.


3. Using feedback to take action.  

Companies have the ability to use the principles of agile project management to adjust programs based on regular feedback – not only from internal pulse surveys (mentioned above) but analytics and data. One last thing about employee feedback, the worst thing that organizations can do is ask employees for their insights then do nothing with them. It’s important for organizations to be transparent in their intentions.


It’s perfectly acceptable to tell employees that the timing isn’t right for a project or the budget doesn’t permit implementation of an idea. Employees understand. What they don’t understand is the absence of a reply. HR needs to make sure managers are trained to provide constructive comments and be effective change champions.


The human resources function has always been known as a change agent. So this is an organizational initiative that we’re accustomed to having a role. The challenge is that HR needs to use our change management skills in a new direction. Instead of leading the change initiative, we need to educate the workforce on how they need to create and manage more frequent change. 

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About Sharlyn Lauby

Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent. Sharlyn sees human resources as a strategic partner - the marketing department for a company’s internal clients rather as administrative. During her 20+ years in the profession, she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality. Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, Readers Digest, Men’s Health and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and workplace issues.