GRAHAM SIMONS 27 February 2019
The business case for embracing agile working is its ability to deliver recruitment projects on schedule or even ahead of time.
This is according to Nebel Crowhurst, River Island’s head of people experience, who was speaking at an event organised by the London HR Connection at King’s Business School last night.
Crowhurst told delegates that on joining the fashion retailer in 2015, while its IT team had used agile working in projects, its HR team had yet to do so.
Agile working is defined as a way of working that sees an organisation empower its employees to work where, when and how they choose, with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints.
In IT, the agile working technique known as ‘scrum’ is often deployed. Project teams break up their work into actions that can be completed within time-boxed iterations called ‘sprints’ of no longer than a month, and then track the project’s progress and re-plan in 15-minute time-boxed stand-up meetings called ‘daily scrums’.
When asked by Recruiter about the implications of the use of such techniques within recruitment, Crowhurst gave the example of recruiting for a store where she introduced a sprint two weeks ahead of its opening.
“Let’s just take the last two weeks before the store is due to open – [we] put a sprint in place, supported by daily stand-ups, to make sure everyone in that project doesn’t let a day go by where they’re not delivering what they need to towards the project. The result of that was that in the first try we opened a store early – so we had a day’s extra trading because we turned the work around so much quicker. The second time we did it, we opened a store two days early.”
Crowhurst added that these sorts of commercial actions strengthen the case to management for using agile working so long as everyone has a daily focus and is committed to the project.
“It’s something you can try if you have a mass recruitment drive going on and you have a lot of roles. It’s those daily conversations that keep things alive, rather than the traditional way of setting up projects and having monthly project reviews … you lose the will to live around the table [with people] giving you updates!”
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