Karen Muscat Baldacchino

Karen Muscat Baldacchino, CEO at the Foundation for Human Resources Development (FHRD), has stressed that the latest trends in human resources (HR) practices indicate that HR will need to be addressed case by case, rather than through a “one-size-fits-all approach”.

Her insights came as part of MaltaCEOs.mt’s end-of-year series, where she highlighted the opportunities and challenges that FHRD, together with the wider HR industry will face in 2024.

Ms Muscat Baldacchino has been leading the foundation as CEO for around two years, having amassed years of experience working in sales, marketing, and event organisation.

She remarked that over the past few years, employees have consistently called for more flexibility, and the HR sector has “refocused its approach” to create a company experience that is “employee-centric”.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have grown more accustomed to the flexibility that remote and hybrid work arrangements bring, enabling them to give greater priority to establishing a healthier work-life balance. Therefore, this increased flexibility has become a key component in many employee benefits packages, and failing to provide it – when possible – has left many employees struggling to find talent. When coupled with an already very tight labour market, this has made searching for candidates and retaining employees particularly difficult.

Ms Muscat Baldacchino said that today, HR matters “more than ever”, as HR plays a “pivotal role in creating workplaces that are productive, engaging, and inclusive”.

“In 2024, the HR world will face pressures and opportunities to transform HR’s performance through technology. Moreover, it will continue to be a challenging talent market, while automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to evolve,” she said.

She remarked that through these technologies, HR professionals can streamline administrative tasks and focus on more strategic initiatives, such as employee engagement and retention. “One of the key benefits of AI and automation is that they can help HR professionals make more data-driven decisions,” Ms Muscat Baldacchino explained.

Turning specifically to FHRD’s role in the industry, she remarked that the foundation will continue to support its members through seminars and events that seek to address the issues HR professionals are facing.

“Through the HR Quality Mark, a standard developed by FHRD that recognises organisations for their effective HR practices, FHRD ensures that organisations are equipped to be the Employers of Choice,” she said.

She continued by adding that in January, FHRD will be launching a new Professional Membership Scheme for HR professionals, allowing them to be recognised by the foundation for their individual level of competence in the field.

“This is all part of FHRD’s mission to set national standards in the development of HR in Malta,” Ms Muscat Baldacchino highlighted.

Looking back on her past year, she remarked that 2023 was “challenging, rewarding, and inspirational”.

“2023 was a year of healthy changes that resulted in serenity, focus, and determination. I feel grateful for all the bumps and hills because they made me grow both professionally and on a personal level,” she noted.

She pointed out that it was a “great year” for FHRD, as it hosted several events with “record attendances”, the courses and seminars were “very well attended”, there were numerous applications for the HR Quality Mark, and the foundation’s corporate memberships continued to grow.

Ms Muscat Baldacchino said that she is proud that this year, FHRD managed to hold the largest Annual HR Conference in its history. She also remarked that she is grateful to have a “healthy and motivating” work environment, together with a supportive family and good health.

When asked how she spent the New Year, Ms Muscat Baldacchino said: “At home sipping whiskey, enjoying some Christmas cake, and cuddling my dog.”

In 2024, she wants to incorporate an evening walk into her daily routine, and would also like to strike a better balance between her work and personal life. In terms of a work-life balance, she said: “I love working and I do it passionately, so I don’t envisage much success here!”

When asked where she sees herself in a year’s time, Ms Muscat Baldacchino stated that she would like to continue developing her skills and knowledge at FHRD, leading the foundation to “more growth, progress, and success”.

Featured Image:

FHRD CEO Karen Muscat Baldacchino

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