“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 in 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 organizations 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 license 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 HR Tech, as well as a lack of urgency in the HR profession to change.
Your “mission” is to help organizations 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, organize 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 creates new ways of working that 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 realizing that ignoring tech is commercial suicide in today’s business climate.
Instead of it being a threat to our existence, HR Tech 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 processes. 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.
From Joanna Pardo
Joanna is a journalist and a passionate advocate for Social Media. She truly believes the more digital we become, the more human we must be. Social media gives people the chance to feel part of a community and create genuine human connections.