Best of February - Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #164

Covers 12 of the most popular resources from February. Topics include CHRO as growth executive, workforce risks, learning & development, skills, employee wellbeing, and more!

As we are now in the month of March, I wanted to share this “Best of February” issue of the Talent Edge Weekly newsletter—which includes the 12 most popular articles, reports, and resources from February!

A special shout out to Paula Sacks, Chief Human Resources Officer of Atlantic Aviation,— for referring new subscribers to Talent Edge Weekly. Thank you, Paula, for your support of this newsletter!

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Enjoy the rest of the week, and I look forward to sharing more ideas with you throughout March!


Brian Heger is a human resources practitioner with a Fortune 150 organization and has responsibilities for Strategic Talent and Workforce Planning. To connect with Brian on Linkedin, click here. To follow on Twitter, click here!


HR leaders continue to help their organizations detect and manage workforce risks, particularly in this era of hyper-unpredictability and disruption. But as noted in this new Deloitte article, organizations can overlook many of the less obvious types of workforce risks. As these risks go unmanaged, they can pose a threat to organizations’ financial, operational, reputation, brand, and regulatory and compliance outcomes. As organizations take a more expansive view of workforce risks, Figure 2 shows various internal and external risks to consider, including access to talent to meet business needs, worker activism, changes to workforce disclosure and reporting requirements, and the responsible use of workforce data, emerging technologies, and artificial intelligence (AI). The article, which includes several insights, also addresses what leading organizations—called Pioneers firms — are doing differently to help mitigate workforce risks. HR leaders and their teams can review the various workforce risks, identify those that present the greatest threat, and develop potential risk-mitigation responses. As HR leaders are increasingly called upon to present their organization’s talent narrative—which should also address workforce risks — they can draw from these responses to inform aspects of their talent story.

The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) role continues to grow in importance in many organizations. Over the last two months alone, I have tracked roughly 300 CHRO hires and promotions as part of CHROs on the Goa subscription that provides insights into hires, promotions, and resignations in the CHRO role. As CHROs drive personal, team, and organizational effectiveness, this 36-page paper by Accenture provides ideas. It submits that a new type of CHRO is stepping up to lead their C-suite peers in connecting data, technology and people and cultivating collaboration—referred to as High-Res CHROs. However, only 29% of CHROs have both the profile and the conditions needed to act as a High-Res CHRO. The paper shares ideas on how CHROs can increasingly shift towards this profile and what CEOs and the executive team can do to create conditions that enable this type of CHRO to flourish. To supplement the paper, here is a 10-minute video where Ellyn Shook (CHRO at Accenture) and Sheri Bronstein (CHRO at Bank of America) discuss how these High-Res CHROs are making an impact. As a bonus, I am resharing this one-page PDF containing links to 12 resources that CHROs can leverage for various purposes. The resources are organized into four categories, ranging from accelerating the transition to a new CHRO role to answering various talent and workforce questions from an organization's board of directors.

The partnership between the CEO and Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is critical to the success of any organization. However, CHROs and CEOs don’t always align on the talent priorities for their firms. As CHROs partner with their CEOs on aligning and executing their talent strategies more effectively, this new 41-page issue of Gartner's HR Leaders Monthly provides ideas. The issue introduces Gartner’s CEO Talent Champions—30 best-in-class CEOs from the Russell 3000 Index whose organizations have achieved and demonstrated a commitment to exceptional talent outcomes. Four criteria were used to identify the top 1 percent of CEOs: 1) Financial performance, 2) Talent-related ESG measures, 3) Employee voice, and 4) Public commitment to employee value proposition preferences. The report explores how these CEOs make tough talent decisions similarly in five ways. Specific steps are offered on how CHROs can support their CEOs in each of the five areas and, in doing so, enhance the quality of that partnership. For example, CEO Talent Champions overinvest in explaining the rationale behind specific talent decisions to ensure employees understand them. CHROs can help their CEOs by evaluating employee understanding, weighting communication toward rationale and inputs, and helping employees share questions and concerns. This month's issue also includes a section on 9 trends shaping the future of work (begins on p.30).

As organizations continue to translate workplace priorities into impactful talent practices, this 88-page report by Mercer includes various insights. Although this 2023 version of the report contains points raised in their 2022 study, many of the insights are highly relevant. For example, with regard to workforce planning, one way organizations are addressing skills shortages is by “bending” the talent supply and demand curve; they are decreasing talent demand by deconstructing jobs into tasks, automating parts of jobs, redesigning jobs, and redesigning work models to make it easier to find people to do the tasks needed. They are increasing talent supply by accessing non-traditional talent pools, reskilling/upskilling and redeploying existing talent, rebalancing the employee value proposition to attract new talent, and considering co-opetition and talent sharing. (p.21). Concerning compensation and inflation, 77% of surveyed organizations are adjusting their rewards approach to respond to the inflationary environment. A few tactics they are using are a) implementing a bonus/pay adjustment across the entire workforce, b) providing a cost-of-living adjustment or other wage increases in most impacted markets, and c) using bonuses instead of base salary to increase total comp without long-term commitments (see p. 37). As organizations rethink their compensation practices in general, page 38 includes a few non-conventional suggestions, such as letting employees decide their compensation mix (e.g., percentage of at-risk versus guaranteed pay, ability to pay for additional days off.).

This 40-page paper addresses the question: how does developing talent affect firms' financial returns and other organizational outcomes? Based on an analysis of +1800 large companies with more than $100 million in annual revenue spanning various sectors in 15 countries, organizations were sorted based on two factors: 1) how much they focus on developing human capital—measured by internal moves as a share of all moves, average training hours per full-time employee, and an overall organizational health index survey and 2) whether they financially outperform (e.g., profitability) their sector peers. While four subsets of organizations emerged, one segment stands out: People + Performance Winners (P+P Winners). This segment excels at creating opportunities for employees to build skills while consistently clearing the highest bar for financial performance. P+P Winners are not only consistent through the normal ups and downs of business cycles, but are a) more resilient in times of crisis, b) are talent magnets, and c) have attrition rates almost five percentage points lower than the second-highest performing segment. As firms communicate the business impact of their talent initiatives, I am resharing this 20-page report by The Conference Board, Telling Your Human Capital Story. It provides ideas on how organizations can tailor the messages of their human capital story to different stakeholder groups—from investors to prospective employees.

This newly released 52-page Workplace Learning Report provides an overview of learning and development (L&D) shifts and how the L&D function continues to evolve. While there are several insights in this report, one result is that only 15% of workers surveyed report that their employer actively encourages them to seek new opportunities within the company. It’s also interesting to observe that on page 34, internal mobility is number 10 of the top 10 program areas that are being prioritized by the L&D function. Could the lack of progress in internal mobility within organizations be that there are too many L&D priorities? Should the L&D function focus on the vital few areas that can have the greatest ROI for organizational stakeholders? Since internal mobility enables so many vital organizational capabilities and outcomes—from redeploying talent quickly to talent retention— L&D practitioners should elevate this priority for their organizations. As L&D professionals enable internal mobility in the organizations they support, here is a one-page PDF that includes six articles and resources with several ideas. Topics range from activating an internal talent marketplace to encouraging employees to apply for internal opportunities. Just click the title in the PDF, and it will take you to the source document.

Skills-based talent practices (SBTP) continue to be a focus of many firms. However, the shift to SBTP can be a long journey, requiring practitioners to answer various questions about the operationalization and implementation of SBTP. This paper provides insights into five of those questions: 1) What skills do we need, and how will we incorporate a skills taxonomy into our job architecture? 2) What skill proficiency level do we expect for each role? 3) How do we assess the skills that will drive our business forward? 4) How will we reward for top skills? 5) How will we operationalize our skills-based strategy? Concerning skill proficiency (#2), survey responses from 650 global organizations show there is no consensus on the optimum number of proficiency levels (e.g., intermediatepractical application, expertrecognized authority), with a fairly even distribution between companies that report three levels (9%), five levels (7%), four levels (6%), and six or more levels (6%). Further, skills assessment remains a predominantly subjective process comprising self-assessment, manager assessment, and/or 365-style reviews—potentially reducing objectivity and fairness. The paper offers several other ideas for firms to consider as they implement SBTP.

Many organizations continue to make the transition to skills-based talent practices. As talent practitioners think through the various aspects of this transition, I have curated this one-page summary—comprised of 10 questions and answers— from Deloitte's 101-page report, Building Tomorrow’s Skills-based Organization (SBO): Jobs Aren’t Working Anymore. The one page-summary addresses questions such as: How many organizations have successfully transitioned to being a SBO? How effective are organizations at classifying and organizing skills into a skills taxonomy or framework? What are the top three barriers business and HR executives cite as obstacles to skills-based talent practices? Which areas are organizations starting with when introducing skills-based talent practices? What is the best way to organize work beyond jobs, so that employees and their skills can flow more easily to the work where they are most needed? What tangible, practical things can organizations do to start their journey to a skills-based organization? The one-page summary includes the question, answer, page number from which the answer was sourced, and a link to the full report. If there are other questions you would like to see answered on skill-based talent practices, please submit them here, and I will address them in future issues of this newsletter.

This 23-page report examines how shifts in the workforce and employee expectations related to work continue to influence total rewards programs and the leaders responsible for designing them. While not highlighted in the report, one area for a greater partnership between total rewards, workforce planning, and talent management leaders is skills-based talent practices. Although there is much talk about moving towards skills-based talent practices, there are several challenges organizations must overcome first—not the least of which is that many organizations don’t even have a common language or a way of understanding their workers’ skills (see i4cp). Total rewards leaders and their talent counterparts in other COEs can work together to answer questions such as:1) What is our common language for discussing skills? 2) How do we determine which employees have these skills? 3) Which skills are in high demand and short supply? 4)To what extent should we differentiate pay and rewards based on our employees' skills and the value the organization and the external market places on those skills? Regarding #4, I am resharing this Deloitte article (image below) that provides ideas on a skills-based rewards model, in which a worker’s base pay comprises both a 1) core salary, which all workers of the same level earn, and a 2) skills salary defined by a worker’s demonstrated proficiency in each skill. This model allows the skills salary portion of employees’ compensation to change as they gain and demonstrate new skills relative to the value the organization places on those skills. While skills-based pay and rewards are at the advanced and more complex end of the skills-based maturity curve, firms must factor this component into their skills-based talent strategy.

Pay equity—compensating employees the same when they perform the same or similar job duties while accounting for other factors, such as their experience level, job performance, and tenure with the employer (SHRM)–continues to be a topic of interest for many organizations. And while one lever for driving pay equity is pay transparencythe degree to which an organization openly and proactively shares information about salariesthis new 36-page report by ADP Research looks at other factors influencing how workers feel about pay equity. The research explores questions such as: Does gender affect one’s feeling about pay? How about one’s race, or education level, or part-time versus full-time status, or the length of one’s tenure within an organization? While various factors, such as tenure and level of education, do not appear to influence the perception of pay equity, other factors do. For example, people who divide their time between home and onsite work are the least likely to say that their pay is unfair. Non-hybrid, onsite workers are the most likely to say their pay is unfair. When workers do work they enjoy and are good at, they are much less likely to say they’re paid unfairly. The data-based insights from this report provide a more holistic view of the various factors that influence workers' perceptions of pay equity.

Last week, I made a post about an article highlighting how a segment of firms (e.g., Amazon, Disney, Starbucks, etc.) is increasing the number of days they require workers to be in the office. The author mentioned one reason firms are increasing the number of mandatory in-office days is: as economic uncertainty looms, and companies axe jobs on a wide scale, the power dynamic is swinging back towards employers: many may be using the downturn as an opportunity to enforce or overhaul their working practices. I mentioned how these decisions could come with unforeseen risks, especially when not made with intention and without considering the range of factors that influence these decisions. In this new HBR article, the author notes: “Many of us assumed that by now, years into the pandemic, we’d have settled on new structures, practices, and processes for hybrid work. But we haven’t. Instead, most companies are stuck in a transitional phase, where little is resolved. Why is it taking us so long to work this out?” One answer provided is that hybrid work isn’t simply about determining whether everybody should return to the office full-time. It’s also forcing us to test long-held assumptions about how work should be done and what it even is. As leaders continue to challenge their beliefs about work and determine its implications for hybrid work arrangements, the article raises four fundamental questions to consider, such as: what are our overarching values and principles? What isn’t working, and what problems are we trying to solve? Other ideas are discussed.

As pointed out in my one-page summary on 2023 talent priorities according to seven sources, employee wellbeing (EWB) is a growing focus for many firms. While organizations have programs and initiatives to support EWB (e.g., wellness programs), one often overlooked driver of employee wellbeing is: reducing or eliminating sources of stress related to ways of working. This article by Rob Cross and Karen Dillon—authors of the forthcoming book, The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems--and What to Do About It (April 18, 2023)—share ideas for identifying and mitigating these sources of stress in organizations. They define microstressors as “individual stressors that seem manageable at the moment, but they accrue, and they can create ripple effects of secondary and sometimes tertiary consequences that can last for hours or days — and even trigger microstress in others.” The accumulation of these unnoticed small events ultimately affects employee well-being. The article addresses various angles of this topic, including different microstressors in the workplace, such as misalignment between collaborators on their roles or priorities or unpredictable behavior from a person in a position of authority. It includes a diagnostic to determine which of the 14 microstressors might be part of the work environment. Leadership teams can use the tool to identify opportunities for improving the work environment, organizational performance, and employee wellbeing.

Here you can see the latest updates from a segment of organizations that have announced job cuts and layoffs since the start of 2023. Recruiters, search firms, and hiring managers can use this resource to identify opportunities for recruiting talent from organizations affected by layoffs.


As part of CHROs on the Go - a subscription that provides the easiest way to stay informed about hires, promotions, and resignations in the Chief Human Resources Officer role 101 new CHRO announcements have been posted on the platform in February. The CHRO appointment of the month is:

  • Apple (CALIFORNIA) [NASDAQ: AAP] announced that it has named Carol Surface as the company's first-ever Chief People Officer. Ms. Surface will officially start at Apple in March and will report directly to Apple CEO Tim Cook. As part of this change, Apple is realigning the role of Deirdre O’Brien, a 30-year Apple veteran who has been Apple’s senior vice president of Retail + People since 2019. Ms. Surface joins Apple after nearly a decade at the medical device company Medtronic, where she was most recently EVP, CHRO. Surface spent three and a half years in that same role at Best Buy as well as over a decade in human resources at PepsiCo.

To learn how to gain access to all 101 detailed Chief Human Resources Officer announcements from February and + 2000 archived announcements, visit CHROs on the Go.

If you are already a member of CHROs on the Go, you can log in to access all announcements and site functionality.


Through this one-question survey, let me know: what talent, workplace, and workforce questions are you trying to answer? (e.g., what practices are companies using to shift to skills-based workforce planning?) Your responses will help guide the content of future issues of Talent Edge Weekly!

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