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The Ultimate Handbook for Implementing Agile HR Practices

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June 27, 2023

What exactly is Agile HR, and how can you implement agile practices in your department?

In today’s ever-changing work landscape, it’s essential to be able to adapt quickly. Just like other departments, HR also faces the challenge of finding faster solutions by modernising and digitising its practices. This means that HR needs to embrace an agile approach to transform the way we work.

So, what is Agile HR?

Agile HR is an approach that applies agile principles and methodologies to human resources. It means adopting flexible and iterative practices to improve HR processes, encourage collaboration, and respond effectively to changes in the organisation and its workforce.

In Agile HR, the focus moves away from traditional, rigid HR methods towards a more dynamic and adaptable approach. It emphasises continuous learning, experimentation, and feedback to drive improvement and innovation within HR functions.

By embracing Agile HR, organisations can streamline HR processes, boost employee engagement, and enable HR teams to be more responsive and proactive in meeting the changing needs of the workforce. It aligns HR practices with the principles of agility, allowing for greater flexibility, adaptability, and continuous improvement.

Here are the First 5 Agile HR Principles:

Customer Centricity:

Focus on understanding and meeting the needs of both internal and external customers, such as employees and stakeholders.

Iterative & Incremental Approach

Break down initiatives into small, manageable increments or iterations to deliver value incrementally and adapt based on feedback.

Collaboration & Cross-Functional Teams

Foster collaboration and create multidisciplinary teams that bring together HR, business, and other relevant functions to promote diverse perspectives and effective problem-solving.

Continuous Feedback & Improvement

Establish mechanisms for ongoing feedback, reflection, and learning to drive continuous improvement in all processes and practices.


Base decisions on data, evidence, and observations rather than relying solely on assumptions or intuition.

How to Apply Your New Methodologies

Applying the agile methodology to HR might not be immediately obvious, but it’s more about adopting an agile mindset that HR can learn from. This is crucial because the workplace is always changing and requires quick solutions.

Agile HR challenges the traditional approach to HR practices in the following ways:

Agile HR means teams should have a mix of skills and get the best results for the employees and for the business through collaborative projects e.g. an L&D specialist could work alongside an operations manager, a HR generalist, IT expert and marketing team member on improving the performance development process.

Imagine a team like this working on improving the way people work together. They would find better solutions than just HR practitioners alone and can bring a range of perspectives as well as anticipate reactions.

This way of working encourages trying new things together, which can lead to more creative ideas. In Agile HR, we want to try things quickly, even if they might not work. We learn from these failures and improve. Traditional HR wants everything to be perfect before trying it out – and we risk burning ourselves out whilst striving for that perfection.

Adopting Agile in HR

Your team doesn’t have to fully adopt the agile methodology to see its benefits. You can choose specific features that suit your needs.

Firstly, stop being a one-size-fits all HR function!

Start listening to the real, practical, everyday needs of your people and prepare to react and iterate with the solutions.  THIS is what will progress the business, improve the employee experience and raise the credibility of the HR workstream.

Define a support budget, but (and this is the crucial part!) don’t allocate it upfront in detail. Instead, Allocate funds according to real prioritised needs as you uncover them through interactions and iterations.

Your objective is to make these improvements by removing blockers, unnecessary bureaucracy, un-needed approvals and irrelevant checks.  This is what is called Minimum Viable Product aka ‘How can we make this the most simple it can be whilst still being effective?’

How to Start

Let’s imagine that the first bit of feedback from the employees is that the expense process is causing employees to be out of pocket for 6-8 weeks because of a 3 tier approval process which is blocked whenever one of the 3 approvers is on holiday, out of the office or just doesn’t prioritise approving claims.

Many unnecessary levels of bureaucracy or approvals are added just “in case” or to ensure that mistakes won’t happen without giving thought to the admin burden, culture shaping or associated costs.  Many of these stem from distrust in employees.

Ask what would happen if your starting point was to build a process that starts from a place of trust.  What would be the cost/time/cultural impact? What would be the risks?

Diving Deeper into Agile HR

To read more – we’ve created a FREE guide that focuses on how to embrace these challenges and use your skills to prepare for the future of work.

Here’s what you can expect in the guide:

  • 12 Agile HR Principles
  • Deeper dive into how to start an Agile approach
  • Case studies with real life examples and results

Download it for free here.

We know that HR leaders and teams are feeling the strain and are having to adapt rapidly to cope with the ever-increasing changes that companies are facing. That’s why People Efficient was created – to reimagine how HR gets done. 

We are experts in organisational development, change evolution, employee experience and of course, Agile HR through our popular Agile in HR™ courses and frameworks.