The capability of the HR function to respond more quickly and effectively to change through improved HR agility is increasingly important, and a new HR agility scale can help in understanding the role played by the HR function and organisational imperatives, writes Murad Salman Mirza

There has been an increased focus lately on the need for ‘HR agility’ within progressive organisations that are seeking a profound competitive edge in the digital world. However, there is a lurking concern that HR agility is in danger of becoming the trending buzzword in corporate conversations, rather than, actually delivering on its promise.

Let’s gain an understanding of what HR agility actually is through the discerning lens of a clear and simple definition before proceeding any further. HR agility is the capability of the HR function to respond more quickly and effectively to changing employee expectations, workplace disruptions and business requirements. Therefore, the expectations for the HR function are being elevated to a level where it can keep pace with the evolving demands of the digital world.

A significant number of HR leaders see HR agility as their ticket to the executive table for stamping their justifiable presence as strategic partners in determining/cementing the future direction of the organisation. This has prompted quite a few visible initiatives that have been hastily undertaken to provide ample evidence in the respective context.

However, this also opens the door for committing significant errors, especially, in terms of overestimating the inherent strengths of the HR function and the daunting challenges of maintaining a brisk pace while delivering desired results on multiple fronts.

“HR agility is the capability of the HR function to respond more quickly and effectively to changing employee expectations, workplace disruptions and business requirements”

Consequently, it is prudent to gain a clear understanding of the status-quo in order to ensure that a baseline is firmly established before any measures are taken within the realm of HR agility. This also systemises the approach to ingraining agility within the HR function and lays the foundation for consistently providing a high probability of success in terms of fulfilling desired expectations.

The following HR agility scale can be used for an honest self-reflection:

Sr. Questions Response*
Yes No
1. Does it generally take a long time to take a strategic decision in your organisation?
2. Does it generally take a long time to operationalise a strategic decision in your organisation?
3. Do you often struggle with having a good understanding of your functional strengths and weaknesses?
4. Do you often feel underutilising your functional strengths?
5. Are you frequently confused/unclear/uncertain about the key aspects/features of existing/new products/services of your organisation?
6. Are most of your initiatives corrective in nature, rather than, preventive in nature?
7. Do you often have to struggle with lack of clear and effective communication channels throughout the organisation?
8. Are you mostly trying to reach out to employees yourself in terms of understanding and addressing their concerns, rather than, they having the confidence to come to you proactively?
9. Are you mostly an invisible/undervalued/marginalised function within your organisation?
10. Is it hard to formally change/refine/eliminate an HR policy/procedure/process that has lost its effectiveness/relevance?
11. Do you feel a chronic lack of recognition for your functional achievements in the success of your organisation?
12. Do you lack informal ways of sensing emerging issues within the organisation?
13. Are you often ignored/overlooked/overruled in terms of having a significant role in formulating business strategies?
14. Do you find it hard to convert business goals into HR imperatives?
15. Is the term ‘deadline’ a flexible concept for you?
16. Are you frequently requesting extensions on agreed timelines for completion of assignments?
17. Do you often feel pulled in different directions by multiple influential forces within your organisation in terms of completing assignments?
18. Do you have an ineffective means of studying and analysing your performance parameters?
19. Do you frequently struggle in terms of maintaining healthy/ongoing/productive relations with former employees who have left on amicable terms?
20. Do you find it difficult to run effective recruitment drives to attract desirable talent in a competitive market?
21. Are you often quoted the examples of ‘other companies’ by ‘client’ functional heads in terms of efficient and effective HR practices?
22. Do you lack a periodic system of updating employee records, especially, in terms of current skill levels, completed trainings and necessary development activities?
23. Do you lack a progressive system of improvement based upon key lessons from past experiences and current/emerging tools/techniques/methods/approaches?
24. Is failure considered a negative trait within your organisation?
25. Do you face significant hurdles/resistance in experimenting with new tools/techniques/methods/approaches that have been proven to work elsewhere?
26. Is there a high rate of attrition among desired talent in your organisation due to ‘avoidable’ circumstances?
27. Do you frequently struggle to find/retain suitable internal successors for senior/top leadership positions in your organisation?
28. Do you instinctively/deliberately avoid conducting employee exit interviews?
29. Do you discourage/resist employees from other functions to explore career options/stints in HR?
30. Are you lacking appreciable Diversity & Inclusion practices within your own function?
*Tick(√) the appropriate response

The result obtained from utilising this HR agility scale can then be used to develop astute strategies/action plans that are designed in congruence with associated goals/objectives.

HR agility scale

Another effective way to benefit from the HR agility scale is to use it periodically, for example, annually, for developing a temporal record of the status-quo in order to gauge the improvement level in the agility of the HR function and the lessons learnt in terms of overcoming any impediments/challenges.

This can also be tied to corroborating performance metrics, for example, average time to hire, average cost per hire, average complaint resolution time, performance rating average of HR employees, benchstrength for succession planning, problem employee rate, HR function satisfaction rate, annual training and development cost per employee, annual training and development hours per employee, diversity and inclusion rate, and surveys from ‘client’ functions within the organisation that can provide factual evidence of HR function’s enhanced ability to meet/exceed expectations.

HR agility requires sincere teamwork with client functions and it thrives on constructive feedback that is crucial for refining the approach taken to provide seamless services. The aforementioned scale inevitably creates a robust bond between the role played by the HR function and the organisational imperatives.

Furthermore, it provides the impetus for innovation that is increasingly becoming a lifesaving skill for organisations in an era where the proverbial sun routinely sets on the titans of yesterdays, still caught up in the hangover of past accomplishments and perilously ignoring or being complacent at the rise of ambitious start-ups eager to disrupt the corporate landscape.

Image source: iStock

 

 

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