HR influencers: Barry Flack, HR and business change mentor

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“A decade ago, I was the oddball advocating HR Technology when our profession viewed it as an obvious threat to be managed… Thankfully the tables are turning”.

 

 


Barry is an experienced business change professional with a background of senior HR and Talent roles spanning large and small businesses in various industries. Describing himself as jargon-free, pragmatic and ‘not afraid to tell it like it is’, Barry has developed a unique toolkit of expertise from which he advises clients, delivers keynote speeches and champions HR Tech. He’s a prolific writer on HR topics and has been published by for HR Director magazine, Beamery CRM, Careerify and People Management.

Tell us a little about your business and how it all started.

Essentially, there are three strands to my business: consulting with businesses who want to work on a specific issue; mentoring businesses who want to embrace technology; and speaking and writing widely on the issues facing HR in today’s changing workplace.

I package my skills into something that helps organisations to adapt, by using my experience, in a wide range of environments, over my 25-year career.

What parts of your job do you enjoy the most and what presents the biggest challenge?

My job gives licence to my desire to keep learning and adapting, and that means staying relevant in today’s fast-changing world.

I get to meet those who provide us with a HR technology ‘vendor vision’ as well as those who put people-centricity at the heart of good workplaces. I have a passion for both these perspectives.

As far as challenges go, I see a lot of instances of low levels of capital investment for much needed HRTech, as well as a lack of urgency in the HR profession to change.

Your “mission” is to help organisations grow, transform and adapt to the changing world of work. Could you tell us a little about some of the issues you come across?

Two key things stand out:

1. Technology is a key tool in aligning our employee and candidate experiences with those of today’s consumer. However, it is too easy to fail to focus on the sociology of work – how we hire, reward, organise and motivate in a more humane manner.

2. Our old way of working is becoming obsolete. Today’s multi-generational workforces and the emerging gig economy require a shift in our employment landscape. We need to be able to handle the disruption that automation brings to jobs and lives, and this is a major focus for me currently.

Of course, as you mentioned, a ‘hot potato’ in today’s changing world of work is the so-called gig economy. What impact do you foresee this having on businesses, especially from an HR perspective?

The evolving gig economy is a phenomenon being regulated under outdated employment, management and financial approaches.

We are at a crossroads. Companies, governments and other public bodies are making big generational decisions that will determine how our workplace and society will look in terms of fairness, equality, growth and innovation.

But not enough HR organisations are looking at this as an opportunity; many are still in reactive mode. We need to create a baseline for a strategy that to create new ways of working to better deal with the changing landscape.

You’re a long-term advocate of the positive impact of HR Technology. Can you share your thoughts on this?

A decade ago, I was the oddball advocating HR Technology, when our profession viewed it as an obvious threat to be managed.

Whether people fear the risk to their reputation, or the data-related issues, we need to move on from the opinion that we can’t trust employees with new technology.

Thankfully the tables are turning. Even late adopters are realising that ignoring tech is commercial suicide in today’s business climate.

Instead of it being a threat to our existence, HRTech is an amazing enabler to enhance productivity. It lets us focus on the important stuff, like engaging personally with our people.

Product developments in vendors like bob excite me as they move thinking beyond the basic need to automate current process. They add value by creating networks of tribes, which is the very thing we humans can tap into.

I believe technology will continue to dominate our landscape, but it will be up to us to merge that with an enlightened view of how people should be treated in the workplace.

That’s the next stage in the evolution of HR and also why it’s an exciting time to do what I do.


ABOUT BARRY:

Barry considers himself a “very lucky fella” to be involved at an exciting time in the HR journey. Because of his varied pedigree, he is often called upon to deliver keynote presentations and run classroom training sessions. He also lectures for an online Global Digital Recruitment programme. In 2016, his writing saw him recognised by his peers, through the CIPD, as one of the top 20 social profiles in HR (People Management Power List).

Connect with Barry on Twitter.

 

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