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Despite the urgent need to attract, retain and engage employees, many factors – from inflation to budget cuts to competition for talent – are interfering with long-term planning.

When planners are faced with so many unknowns and blind spots, agility can be a powerful tool. But only 1 in 5 HR leaders in the UK say their employee engagement strategy allows them to adapt extremely quickly to the needs of employees as they change, with several other factors interfering in long-term strategy.

factors inhibiting HR agility in 2023

Whilst HR leaders can’t solve everything overnight (and shouldn’t be asked to!) savvy, future-thinking teams will be thinking of how to get the biggest bang for their buck – think of multi-purpose tools and technology that can help your organisation pivot as needed, depending on what the current issues are. A flexible and multifaceted HR employee experience tool like the one Reward Gateway offers can grow with your company needs, boosting the system ROI while reducing both the financial and human costs of adoption.

By making a preliminary investment in technology and upskilling your workforce to understand how to use it – whether that’s for reward redemption, internal communications, benefits awareness or creating a central location for wellbeing content – there won’t be a need to add to your costly tech stack. 

How can HR leaders gain more agility?

For starters, let’s talk briefly about the definition of ‘agile,’ which is a way of working that, in simple terms, means that when a component aspect of a bigger programme is ready, you release it. In software engineering, Agile development means that IT teams can release smaller updates more often, with less downtime. Working on this rolling basis allows teams to respond to changes more quickly.

For HR, you can play a part in role modelling the experimental mindset required to test and learn how agile principles support both day-to-day work and strategic projects and demonstrate to the business that agile can be used in multiple contexts.

The idea of agility is to build ‘products’ (in this case, a workplace) that meet your audience’s (your employees’) needs by introducing incremental iterations, with continuous feedback loops and mostly autonomous teams.

Here are a few simple ways to start thinking HR agility and introduce incremental changes to your business, in stages (or ‘sprints,’ as often called by software engineering teams):

  • Have a self-service module on your HR system, instead of directing employees to your People Ops team.
  • Introduce technology-based recognition instead of paper-based nomination programmes, and gradually transition all R&R-based initiatives to be digital.
  • Celebrate and share employee communications in a social media-like format so success is known instantly, making a shift from in-person updates.
  • Create an open, two-way dialogue for employees to give feedback through open responses or pulse-like employee surveys to see how changes are resonating.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s critical to choose a partner that can grow with your business and adapt to challenges as they occur by being as ready as possible.

Our client Checkatrade follows this approach with its all-in-one employee engagement platform, starting only with employee discounts. Over the years we’ve partnered together, Checkatrade has grown its platform to now host recognition, wellbeing, communications and more, becoming a central part of its culture. During the pandemic, as many businesses were facing unprecedented change and challenges, Checkatrade turned to its technology to find new avenues to improve the employee experience, launching new features such as a wellbeing-centric hub and a monthly newsletter to connect its hybrid workers. The organisation also uses the platform to host important policies and documents for a single source of truth throughout the business. 

evolution of Checkatrade platform

To date, the organisation sees 96% of staff as active users, logging into the platform five times or more each week. John Frith, Head of People at Checkatrade at the height of the pandemic, says:

We couldn't have gotten through [the] year without the platform. It has become such a core part of everything we do, and one of the main tools we use to prevent the organisation from splitting into silos. Our content production and communications have practically quadrupled – and all of that has been delivered through Reward Gateway. Simply put, it’s enabled us to support our people through what’s probably the hardest time in their careers.

Technology allows you to focus on continuous improvement, following the agile methodology of constant iteration, letting you try small things and measuring them to create successful adjustments – and when added together, introducing significant changes.


To see what other trends are driving the employee engagement and employee experience landscape forward, download our latest report.

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Chloe Thompson

Chloe is the Head of Global Content Strategy and Thought Leadership at Reward Gateway. She has a strong penchant for great food, better wine (especially if it sits alongside a cheese plate) and dancing around her kitchen to musical theatre tunes.

Head of Global Content Strategy and Thought Leadership

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