Agile is a set of management practices that emerged from software development. But nowadays, Agile is now spreading rapidly to all functions within an organisation – across all manner of industries. In a 2017 Deloitte survey, 79% of global executives rated agile performance management as a high organizational priority.[1]

What has caused such widespread adoption?

It relates to the VUCA environment we find ourselves in. VUCA stands for a business world that is more Volatile, more Uncertain, more Complex and more Ambiguous than ever before. Agile’s acceptance as a logical process for such a wide range of teams is because of the ability it gives teams to cope in a VUCA business world. It allows businesses to consistently adapt to the continuous change of the environment.

So, how is Agile being put to use in HR?


Agile is useful in recruitment, particularly considering large hiring needs – such as the opening of a new factory, or store. This style of working allows for staggered hires, in order of prioritisation, and allows the organisation to consider shifting hiring needs as circumstances change. For example, a store that is due to open later in the year changes its distribution model, opting not to hold as much stock, instead relying on neighbouring stores with larger stockrooms. The hiring team needs to then quickly adapt by reducing the number of stockroom workers positions they wanted to fill, and increasing the number of distribution drivers needed. When put to use in recruitment, Agile means teams can work on several hires at once, opening information sharing about candidates for other work streams that may fit better in other roles.

Appraisals and reviews

Nowadays individuals work on shorter-term projects of various lengths, with different teams and parts of the business. The old model of performance once a year – from one manager – has long been seen as outdated. Professional feedback should come more often, not just from the boss but from the wider team, the people that the employee manages, clients and other parts of the business they engage with. Agile is one way to take this a step further, making sure feedback happens across the whole business network which works towards a common goal. An Agile approach to performance management aligns perfectly with continuous development, benefiting both individuals and the business.

Learning and development (L&D)

As with recruitment, when the VUCA environment changes the L&D needed to upskill workforces changes too. As the projects worked on, the clients/customers worked for, people worked with and the needs of a company change – so should the skills employees need to adopt. Assessment of individual’s skills should be done iteratively and regularly, considering a range of external factors.  Here at ADP we’ve designed ways to implement this easier, for example ADP’s iHCM2 includes training and education tools to help managers and staff regularly review and improve business efficiency.

Consider your ways of working

These are just some of the areas of HR which could benefit from adopting Agile. In truth, Agile working is a style of working that can be implemented in every capacity to some degree. You don’t have to be a scrum master or speak in consultancy jargon to understand advantages that being flexible, quick to adapt and responsive can bring to HR. Agile working has the potential to better arm HR teams to work in a VUCA business world.

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