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Created on 15.09.2021

Agile approach to work: when “health is a matter of management” doesn’t quite add up

Why is agile working on the rise? What does it take to work healthily in an agile setting? And what role does workplace health management have to play? In the video, Felix Bucher, Agile Coach for Organization at PostFinance, answers these and other questions.

In traditional health management, leadership plays a key role, because as is often said: “health is a matter of management”. And this means that managers and their leadership style have a major influence on the well-being and performance of their staff. In agile teams, however, the traditional leadership role doesn’t apply. The teams bear a great deal of personal responsibility – for their work and for their own health. They are to a large extent self-organizing.

Finding solutions in a complex, dynamic environment

In the video, Felix Bucher explains why the agile approach to work is continually growing in importance. The video was produced as part of a practical research exchange with Health Promotion Switzerland. “In a complex, highly dynamic environment, simple solutions where A does B don’t stand a chance. What we need instead today are solutions that can cope with constant change. We do A and the result can be B, C or D,” he says. One answer to finding solutions of this kind is the agile approach to work. “One of its hallmarks is that many issues that were once the responsibility of managers or central offices are now entrusted to the team,” explains Bucher. This not only increases the degree of self-organization, it also increases the responsibility of the teams – for the work assigned to them and also for the health of the individual team members.

What health responsibilities do agile teams assume themselves?

The question now is how agile teams can manage to establish the general conditions that are best suited to self-organization. The The link will open in a new window Health Promotion Switzerland factsheet “Shaping agile work” shows that in most cases, agile teams have one member whose role includes responsibility for these conditions. So it’s a good idea to also assign the issues of health and absence management to a role. In the video, Bucher explains a further aspect: “In an agile setting, it’s important for everyone to look out for their own health, and also to realize what it is they need and respond when things are not as they should be.” Other key factors are stable teams and clearly defined values, principles and rules of the game, and hence conditions everyone can adhere to. This creates transparency and a sense of orientation, and offers security.

Supporting agile teams with the issue of health

The video also examines the question of how the cooperation between agile teams and workplace health management (WHM) should look in the future. According to Bucher, there is a need for a concrete understanding of the challenges to be managed by agile teams and the requirements they have in terms of support from HR. He sees this understanding as helping to clarify which services should continue to be provided centrally by WHM or HR and which responsibilities should be assumed by agile teams. Bucher increasingly sees WHM and HR as providers of useful services and resources for agile teams that allow them to organize themselves decentrally.

Honing the approach to the issue of health

PostFinance WHM and HR already offer various support services of this kind on an internal platform, including for example training or resources such as guidelines or factsheets. Based on the core idea of decentralization, these services are expected to be further expanded in the future, for example with the establishment of a health community. The goal is to hone the approach to the issue of health in agile teams – with measures going beyond existing training resources in the area of agility. Because while it is clear that WHM or HR can manage the issue of health strategically, its implementation takes place at all levels of the organization: among staff, managers or staff with responsibility in this area in both HR and management.

The video shows Felix Bucher’s answers in full.

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