Talent Edge Weekly - Best of April Issue #236

Here are 16 of the most popular HR, talent, and future of work articles and resources from April.


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This special Best of April issue brings you 16 of the most popular articles and resources from the April issues of Talent Edge Weekly. The resources are categorized into two sections:

  1. HR Effectiveness and Chief HR Officer. HR’s new role, evidenced-based research, accelerating the transition into a new Chief HR Officer role, GenAI in HR, and 10 CHROs hired in 2024.

  2. Talent and Workplace Practices. Workforce planning, scenario planning, recruiting former employees, recruiting from overlooked talent pools, using AI to determine skills, returnships, internal mobility, employee retention risk, employee wellbeing, and women in the workplace.

This issue also includes news about company layoffs and select highlights of movement in and out of the Chief HR Officer role in April.

Since this issue has much more content than the regular weekly issue, you can choose to view an abridged version HERE, which only includes links and a brief description of the 16 resources.

But if you are ready for a deep dive, let’s jump in. ⬇️



A new article by Peter Cappelli and Ranya Nehmeh on how HR can show leaders the true costs of outdated workplace policies, practices, and mindsets.

This article by Peter Cappelli and Ranya Nehmeh discusses how HR can play a critical role in showing leaders the true costs and impact of outdated workplace policies, practices, and mindsets. They highlight several topics, including employee retention, underscoring HR's role in helping leaders understand the “real costs” of employee turnover and the reasons behind employee departures. Challenging the commonly cited turnover cost statistic of $4,000 per employee, the authors contend that this figure does not capture other substantial costs, such as new hire training, the diminished initial performance of new hires, and the time investment of existing staff in the hiring process. The referenced Neiman Marcus case study underscores how uncovering full turnover costs can create urgency for making talent investments. Neiman's Chief People Officer, Eric Severson, presented top management with turnover costs and retention benefits data, leveraging marketing tools to determine what drove turnover and successful hiring at the company. Based on the findings, the company implemented a generous paid parental and family leave policy for all associates, positively impacting retention in a predominantly female workforce. As HR teams consider what data they might use to help leaders better understand aspects of the workplace and workforce, I am resharing this 16-page SAP reference, which includes 100 people analytics questions spanning nine categories.


My curated list of 4 research studies that can help inform talent practices.

As HR and talent practitioners increasingly turn to evidence-based research to inform talent management and workplace practices, here's my one-page cheat sheet with four studies on: return-to-office mandates, work-from-home impact on working mothers, performance feedback, and internal mobility. For instance: 1) Return-to-office (RTO) mandates: a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that a) no significant changes were observed in S&P 500 firms' financial performance or stock market value after RTO mandates. b) However, Glassdoor data suggests that RTO mandates negatively affected employee satisfaction. 2) Performance feedback. In this study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers from Cornell University discovered that underperforming women receive less truthful but kinder performance feedback than equally underperforming men, signaling a need for more transparent and fair feedback practices. Scientific literature and empirical studies can help HR professionals guide their organizations toward more informed decision-making that minimizes reliance on trends, biases, and anecdotal information.


Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood share insights on how new Heads of HR can accelerate their transition during their first 90 days.

As newly appointed Chief HR Officers and Chief People Officers transition into a new head of HR role, this article by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood shares critical questions that can help these leaders accelerate their transition during their first 90 days. The five main questions are: 1) Do I walk the talk about our business? 2) Do I have a broad map of the HR activities being done? 3) Do I have a sense of the key HR priorities? 4) Do I have the right team in place? 5) Do I clearly demonstrate my priorities and values through the transition? For each of the five main questions, there are sub-questions to help HR leaders go deeper into each topic. For example, for the main question, ‘Do I walk the talk about our business?,’ a few sub-questions include: Do I know how we make money? Do I see how (and how well) the business operates from multiple points of view? Do I have firsthand experience with the product/service? The article also provides actionable suggestions to help Chief HR Officers accelerate their transition. The ideas, questions, and framework can also be used to support non-CHRO transitions.


Outlines five primary approaches to deploying GenAI in HR and shares seven questions to evaluate vendor capabilities.

This article outlines five primary approaches to deploying GenAI in HR, each with its own advantages and considerations, spanning from simplicity to customization. Regardless of the approach, all require HR to collaborate with IT teams on topics related to compliance, security, and alignment with organizational requirements. Further, as HR leaders and their teams engage with HR tech vendors to understand vendor capabilities and limitations, it’s important to ask the right questions to avoid overpromising and misunderstanding vendor capabilities. The article includes seven questions HR teams can ask vendors, including: 1) What mechanisms will ensure the accuracy of the generated output, and how can we actively monitor and verify its correctness? 2) How does the tool access and interact with our HR data and knowledge bases? What security measures safeguard this sensitive information? 3) How can we jointly engage in corrective actions if a generative AI tool provides false information? 4) How does the system manage highly sensitive HR data? Are certain use cases restricted to ensure data protection? As a bonus, I am resharing this 33-page toolkit developed by the World Economic Forum in partnership with GEP. It offers a framework to help internal practitioners navigate the AI procurement landscape and ask relevant questions during the evaluation process.


My 14-page PDF that includes information on a sample of CHROs that have moved into a new Chief HR role this year.

The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) role continues to gain prominence in many organizations. Over the past 90 days alone, I have posted hundreds of CHRO appointments on CHROs on the Go a subscription-based digital platform that provides insights into hires, promotions, and resignations in the CHRO role. These appointments range from first-time CHROs to seasoned heads of HR transitioning to a new CHRO role. This 14-page PDF includes information on a sample of CHROs who have moved into a new Chief HR role this year. The summary includes a brief description of the announcement and links to the CHRO’s LinkedIn profile, the organization’s web page, and the detailed source announcement. The 10 featured CHRO appointments are from the following organizations: Boeing, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Exelon, Gap Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Petco, PG&E Corporation, Nielsen, ​​​THOR Industries, Inc., and Walgreens Boots Alliance. The resource is useful for those who want to understand the movement occurring in the CHRO role. If you are already a member of CHROs on the Go, you can log in to access +3500 (and growing) CHRO announcements. And if you aren’t a subscriber to CHROs on the Go, you can join by clicking here.


Workforce planning, scenario planning, recruiting former employees, recruiting from overlooked talent pools, using AI to determine skills, returnships, internal mobility, employee retention risk, employee wellbeing, and women in the workplace.


My downloadable one-page PowerPoint slide to jumpstart discussions on an organization’s SWP.

Strategic workforce planning (SWP) remains a priority for many organizations, yet practitioners still struggle to implement it effectively. One reason for this challenge is the overwhelming nature of deciding where to begin. In such instances, simple frameworks can provide invaluable guidance. This one-page visual comprises six key questions to steer SWP efforts: 1) Strategy. What is our strategic focus? 2) Capabilities. What strategic capabilities are most vital to strategy execution? 3) Roles and Skills. What roles and skills disproportionately enable these capabilities? 4) Supply and Demand. What is the supply and demand risk for these roles and skills? 5) Gaps. Which role and skill gaps present the greatest risks? 6) Actions. What actions do we take in roles and skills with the greatest risks (e.g., buy, build, borrow, automate, etc?). While SWP entails addressing more questions than these six (e.g., how do workforce plans need to shift for different business scenarios?), you can use this framework as a starting point for determining the questions you want your SWP to answer. For more on strategic capabilities, you can check out my 2016 article, Linking Talent Strategy with Business Strategy. 


My one-page worksheet for thinking through workforce planning responses to different scenarios.

Does your organization's strategic workforce planning (SWP) consider different scenarios? While SWP for one scenario is challenging enough to execute, preparing for multiple scenarios through SP can enable organizations to respond more effectively when situations change. And although SP has varying levels of sophistication, simply discussing scenarios and responses can be a good start. This worksheet can guide discussions that help answer: 1) Base Scenario. What scenario will likely occur? (e.g., FDA approval of drug X). What are the key elements of the workforce plan for this scenario? (e.g., a 19% increase in sales reps in regions A, C, & F). 2) Alternative Scenarios. What are two other possible scenarios? 3) Triggers. What indicators (e.g., economic shifts, increased competition, etc.) would serve as a signal that the alternate scenario is more likely to occur? 4) Action. If an alternate scenario occurs, how will our workforce plan change? There is more to SP than outlined here. Start with this information and evolve as you go. Lastly, business scenarios should come from an organization’s strategic business planning process (and the business team responsible for this work) to ensure workforce plans are based on realistic scenarios.


I share reasons why recruiting former employees can help organizations meet their talent needs. Includes my template to support this effort.

Many organizations seek ways to identify and recruit from untapped talent pools to gain a talent advantage. However, one talent segment that is often underutilized is former employees, sometimes referred to as ‘boomerang employees.’ While not all former employees should be re-recruited, some may desire to return to their previous organization, bringing with them in-demand skills. These individuals can also offer organizations a performance advantage upon rehire. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that former employees often outperform new hires, especially in roles requiring strong relational skills and internal coordination. And there may be an optimal timeframe for re-recruiting former employees. A Visier analysis of 3 million employee records across 120 organizations over a four-year period discovered that the average time away for employees resigning from and returning to their previous employer is 13 months. The likelihood of a former employee returning sharply declines after being away for 16 months. These data points suggest that the critical time frame for rehiring former employees falls between 13 to 16 months. Does your organization have a strategy to identify and re-recruit former employees? Use my template to begin to identify employees you may want to target for re-recruitment.


Ideas for designing a recruiting strategy to reach overlooked talent pools.

Many organizations continue to face challenges in attracting and hiring talent to meet their needs. However, as highlighted in this Gartner article, recruiting practices often overlook unconventional talent segments possessing valuable skills. A few of these segments include 1) candidates who are near or past the traditional retirement age but are still working, 2) individuals with career gaps or who have switched careers, 3) those lacking four-year degrees, and 4) individuals with criminal records. Additional examples of less obvious talent segments are illustrated in Figure 2. The article introduces a three-step framework to not only attract and recruit unconventional talent but also enhance overall recruiting strategies. They include: 1) Identify roles with the least resistance for access, 2) Empower hiring managers regardless of their DEI maturity, and 3) Address and mitigate hiring manager resistance stemming from fear. For step 1—preidentifying roles that offer the least resistance—tactics include prioritizing roles with extended fill times, low application rates, and high growth rates. The article offers questions to further assess opportunities for attracting and recruiting non-traditional talent segments.


Addresses the diminishing stigma attached to career breaks and gaps in work history.

The article delves into the changing perceptions and practices surrounding career breaks and re-entering the workforce. Once stigmatized, career breaks are now being viewed with more empathy, with platforms like LinkedIn incorporating features to showcase them positively. Additionally, several major employers, including Chevron, Intel, Dell, Wells Fargo, Amazon, IBM, and PepsiCo, have implemented returnship programs to offer paid opportunities for skill enhancement and reintegration into the workforce. According to the article, this shift in attitude particularly benefits women and minority groups, who are often more likely to take career breaks frequently due to caregiving responsibilities. ‘Women are nearly twice as likely as men to take a career break, citing reasons such as full-time parenting, health and wellness, caregiving, and professional development.’ The article highlights specific company practices, such as Chevron's "Welcome Back Returnship Program," which assists experienced professionals in re-entering the workforce after a career break. The program offers a 12-week paid "returnship" with learning components and mentoring, and the possibility of full-time employment and benefits upon completion. Other company examples are provided, including IBM and PepsiCo.


A case study on how Johnson & Johnson leveraged AI to assess its workforce's current skills and determine skill gaps.

This article presents a case study detailing how Johnson & Johnson (J&J) leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) to assess its workforce's current skills and their alignment with future requirements for organizational success. The organization followed a three-step process: 1) Developing a skills taxonomy by identifying skills crucial for future business plans, initially piloted within J&J’s Digital Talent team, resulting in 41 skills across 11 capability areas. 2) Collecting skills evidence by selecting and preparing employee data sources to analyze. The company used four data sources: the organization’s HR information system, recruiting database, learning management system, and one of its project management platforms. 3) Conduct a skills assessment, for which a machine learning model is trained to measure the skills proficiencies of each employee. Proficiency scores ranged from 0 (no skill detected) to 5 (thought leadership). The result of this process yielded workforce insights that guided employees’ personal development, and the organization’s enhanced strategic workforce planning (SWP), both of which reduced skills gaps at J&J. For more on this topic, check out my book chapter in Strategic Workforce Planning: Best Practices and Emerging Directions (The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Professional Practice Series—published 3/29/24). If you want a chance to win a free copy, click here to learn more!


Explores how managers hinder their direct reports' advancement and offers strategies to foster internal mobility.

This new article delves into internal talent hoarding among managers, who obstruct their direct reports' growth within the organization by withholding support for promotions or discouraging their direct reports from seeking other internal roles. Despite offering short-term benefits, talent hoarding risks long-term gains. Recent research in the Academy of Management Journal shows that supporting direct reports' career development helps attract high-quality and functionally diverse internal applicants while hoarding talent leads to recruitment challenges and higher turnover. The article examines the motivations behind talent hoarding, such as incentives linked to team performance and the fear of losing valuable employees. It describes talent-hoarding behaviors, such as reducing the visibility of standout employees and downplaying direct reports’ performance and/or desire to move into other roles during performance calibration sessions, internal talent reviews, and succession planning conversations. The article emphasizes the importance of fostering internal mobility through transparent talent markets and shares ways to incentivize managers to support employee development and internal mobility. As a bonus, I am resharing my post, Five Indicators of Manager Talent Hoarding, which provides a simple way to assess one’s tendency to hoard talent.


My one-page slide to help articulate how an ITM works. Both PDF and PowerPoint versions are included.

Many organizations increasingly prioritize internal mobility as a key aspect of their talent strategy. To facilitate this talent practice, a segment of organizations are adopting internal talent marketplaces (ITMs). An ITM is a technology-driven platform that employs AI to match employees, along with their skills, to various opportunities, including jobs and projects. As internal practitioners work to introduce the concept of an ITM to organizational stakeholders and garner support, I am sharing my one-page editable PowerPoint slide. The slide can be used to articulate how an ITM works, such as: 1) Identifying and integrating relevant data inputs into the platform, including employee data (e.g., resumes) and opportunity data (e.g., jobs, projects); 2) AI processing the data and generating employee skills profiles and an internal opportunity repository, using a common skills language; 3) The AI engine recommending relevant opportunities to employees (e.g., job A, C, project F, J); and 4) ITM enabling various use cases and outcomes, such as workforce planning and internal mobility. Feel free to modify the slide (PowerPoint version below) as needed to socialize the notion of ITMs within your organization.


My one-page template to assess employee retention risk.

Employee retention remains a top concern for many organizations. This one-page template provides a way for managers to evaluate the retention risk of their employees on 13 retention risk indicators. These indicators, based on a previously shared article by JR Keller, Timothy Gardner, and Brad Winn published in The People + Strategy Journal, form a Cues of Turnover Scale (CoTS).  A few indicators include: 1) Their productivity has decreased more than usual. 2) They have acted less like a team player than usual. 3) They have expressed dissatisfaction with their current job more frequently than usual. I have integrated the 13 statements into this editable template by listing the statement in the left column. 1) Managers can then use the first row of empty columns to enter the names of employees to be assessed. 2) Managers can then respond to each risk statement by putting a checkmark in the box if they believe the employee has shown the behavior over the last 2 to 3 months. Clicking the box will automatically insert a check mark. Upon completion, the visual will show where the most significant risk exists (i.e., more check marks indicate high risk). The insights can inform actions for mitigating employee retention risk in the most critical areas.  


Shares findings from a Novartis study on increasing employees’ willingness to use mental health support programs despite the perceived stigma.

Employee well-being remains a priority for several organizations, yet progress in improving it has been slower than desired. This article explores the mounting challenge of mental health in the workplace, citing statistics showing a significant increase in anxiety and depression among employees. Despite various mental health initiatives implemented by organizations, employees often hesitate to utilize these resources due to the stigma attached to mental health issues. In an effort to understand this topic further, a team of researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 2,400 Novartis employees across the UK, Ireland, India, and Malaysia. It aimed to understand how framing and storytelling could impact employees' willingness to engage with mental health support programs. Results show that simply hearing about colleagues' struggles, regardless of severity, normalized access to mental health support at work and increased uptake of existing peer-to-peer support programs by up to 8 percent. Conversely, emphasizing the anonymity of these programs did not significantly boost usage, suggesting that highlighting privacy and confidentiality is insufficient by itself to encourage program usage. As practitioners strive to use research-based studies to inform employee well-being practices, the insights in this article can provide ideas. I am also resharing my playlist of five resources on the topic of employee wellbeing, covering topics such as burnout, microstressors, and more.


A 49-page report on critical workplace and societal factors profoundly impacting women’s careers. Bonus resource on psychological safety.

This 49-page report presents findings from Deloitte’s fourth annual survey on women in the workplace, gathering feedback from approximately 5,000 women across 10 countries. It examines critical workplace and societal factors impacting women’s careers. Key highlights include insights on mental health, revealing that two-thirds of women feel uncomfortable discussing mental health at work or disclosing it as the reason for time off. Many women surveyed express concerns about discrimination or layoffs, with one in 10 reporting negative experiences discussing mental health at work. On flexibility and work/life balance, only one in 10 feel they can openly discuss the need for greater work flexibility. Additionally, nearly all women surveyed (95%) believe that requesting or utilizing flexible working opportunities affects their promotion prospects. These findings underscore the importance of leaders fostering cultures of psychological safety in which individuals don’t feel penalized for requesting or participating in flexible work arrangements. Regarding psychological safety, this bonus HBR article includes Amy Edmondson’s 7-item questionnaire to assess the perception of psychological safety within teams and organizations. One of the statements is: “Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.” The questions give leaders a practical tool for assessing and enhancing psychological safety in their teams. Could this be a potential topic of discussion at your next team meeting?


Here is my tracker, which includes announcements from a segment of organizations that have announced job cuts and layoffs since the start of 2023.

Partial view of tracker

A few firms that announced job cuts in April include:

  • Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). The company is laying off some 600 people who worked on expensive R&D projects, such as Apple's secretive electric-vehicle work, and a complex in-house project to make brighter smartwatch screens with microLED technology.

  • Novartis (NYSE: NVS). The Swiss pharmaceutical company has announced plans for a broader restructuring initiative that may see approximately 8,000 positions eliminated from Novartis’s global workforce of 78,000 employees over the next two to three years.

  • Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). Is laying off more than 10% of its global workforce, equivalent to at least 14,000 roles, as the electric carmaker reacts to slowing demand and pressure on prices.

  • UBS (NYSE: UBS). The Swiss banking giant is planning to roll out layoffs in five distinct waves beginning in June. It is estimated that the layoffs could affect between 30,000 - 35,000 worldwide.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


A few hires, promotions, and resignations in the CHRO role in April include:

  • BNY Mellon (NEW YORK) [NYSE: BK]—a global financial services company — has appointed Shannon Hobbs as Chief People Officer.

  • GXO Logistics, Inc. (GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT) [NYSE: GXO]— the world’s largest pure-play contract logistics provider— announced the appointment of Corinna Refsgaard as Chief Human Resources Officer.​​​​

  • Merck (RAHWAY, NEW JERSEY) [NYSE: MRK]—the multinational pharmaceutical company— has announced the appointment of Betty Larson as EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer.

  • Under Armour Inc. (BALTIMORE, MARYLAND) [NYSE: UAA]—an American sportswear company —announced that Tchernavia Rocker, currently Chief People and Administrative Officer, is leaving the Company effective June 1, 2024

If you want access to all detailed announcements, including +3600 (and growing) archived announcements of CHROs hired, promoted, and who have resigned, join the CHROs on the Go digital platform.

If you are already a subscriber to CHROs on the Go, log in here.


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​Talent Edge Weekly is a free weekly newsletter that brings together the best talent and strategic human resources insights from various sources. It is published every Sunday at 6 PM EST.

Talent Edge Weekly is written by Brian Heger, an internal human resources practitioner. You can connect with Brian on Linkedin, X, and brianheger.com.