Work-life balance is playing an increasingly pivotal role when companies formulate their HR strategies. This is in part due to the established reality that candidates are no longer subjected to one-sided corporate directives, even more so within the IT industry. Added to this is the viewpoint held by upcoming generations, market conditions as well as cost considerations, which all affect companies’ ability to structure their offerings.

From my experience at KONNEKT, I have observed financial motivation is not the absolute priority for many candidates looking for IT jobs in Malta. Rather, they would more likely tend to choose to work for organisations that value flexibility, offer a modern culture and provide personal development opportunities.

This plays an important part in the development of attraction strategies, especially at the senior level, as companies work to draw further talent to the organisation. This is particularly relevant in an industry where, unlike many others, there is no ceiling as to the knowledge that can be acquired. IT is dynamic, with technologies ever-evolving and constant new releases. In this respect, companies stand to gain from constant investment in their people’s development as a direct contribution to their own added value, while simultaneously satisfying employee needs.

In addition, initiatives such as remote working promote values such as responsibility, autonomy and trust – values that professional organisations are keen to nurture anyway, as much from a branding and reputational perspective as to ensure best practice. It may well be that such indirect benefits are not valued enough by control-obsessed employers. In Malta, there seems to be an unspoken belief that these ‘modern’ tendencies are actually the key differentiator between entirely local employers and their foreign counterparts.

My opinion is that while this may have been a valid point a few years ago, local companies have caught up and have consequently gained significant traction.

Testament to this is the fact that several non-Maltese candidates do not have any reservations about working for purely local companies and their respective retention rate is a healthy one as well. Undoubtedly, such measures do not come at zero cost. According to an article in The Economist, IBM spends over €40m in dependent-care facilities in the US alone. Of course, budgets and market size justify the investment. Local companies walk a tightrope as they balance between having enough strategies to attract and retain the right talent while setting aside healthy margins for growth and scalability.

This is especially true when considering that Malta is losing salary advantage over competing countries, such as the Eastern block. Such countries are also benefitting from multinational companies setting up satellite teams there, which increases the quality and competency of their respective IT talent.

This increases Malta’s risk of losing some of its attractiveness to companies eyeing the possibility of setup here as well as the burden of relocating candidates.

There’s a shortage of candidates, ever increasing competition to secure talent and a firm confirmation that the job-for-life mentality is long gone. In the light of this, then yes, we must really consider HR as the new marketing. Specifically, HR initiatives have become the core branding strategies of organisations and the reason why candidates often choose a company over another.

Good talent in turn means good work and quality of service. Therefore, companies wishing to remain successful and attractive in the long term can only do so with one core consideration to keep in check – the ongoing implementation of employee-centric HR initiatives. As several research studies show, in the long run, experiences contribute to our happiness much more than materialistic rewards, and the workplace should be one of those experiences.

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This article first appeared on the Times of Malta.