Talent Edge Weekly - Best of February Issue #225

Here are 18 of the most popular HR, talent, and future of work articles and resources from February.


Welcome to this special Best of February issue of Talent Edge Weekly and to the 2,675 NEW readers who subscribed to the newsletter this month!

A special shout-out to Diane Raye Leeming, SVP HR and Head of Talent for Campbell Soup Company, for referring new subscribers to Talent Edge Weekly. Thank you, Diane, for your support of this newsletter!

Not subscribed to Talent Edge Weekly? Subscribe here for free!  


10 Ways HR Can Take Action in 2024

HR is a strategic partner to business growth. But HR’s impact is less about a new HR operating model or organization design; it's about understanding the top challenges leaders and their teams face and ensuring they are equipped to master these challenges.

Download our white paper on 10 new ways HR can take action in 2024 to drive greater business impact.

Want to share your brand, product, or service with +30,000 Talent Edge Weekly readers? Learn how to become a potential sponsor.


This special Best of February issue brings you 18 of the most popular articles and resources from the February issues of Talent Edge Weekly. The resources are categorized into three sections:

  1. Workplace Trends. Return-to-office, 2024 human capital trends report, GenAI, 4-day workweek study, and the impact of work-from-home on working mothers’ participation in the workforce.

  2. Talent Practices. Overhiring, talent acquisition strategies, employee retention, mitigating talent risks, skill-based organizations, the ROI of upskilling, addressing pay gaps, and change fatigue.

  3. HR Effectiveness. Chief HR Officers impact in three areas, talent priorities of interest to boards of directors, and a template for (re)evaluating HR priorities.

This issue also includes news about company layoffs and shares select highlights of Chief HR Officers who were hired or promoted in February.

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 18 resources.

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



A one-page snapshot of a segment of organizations that have updated their return-to-office guidance.

As more organizations announce return-to-office (RTO) mandates, here is my one-page cheat sheet featuring seven organizations that recently updated their RTO guidance. The included organizations represent just a sample of firms making changes to their RTO, and this resource can serve as a starting point for developing a more comprehensive listing. A few updates include Dell, which now requires employees to work on-site for at least 39 days a quarter, regardless of their location, in contrast to the previous guideline focused on employees within an hour's commute of an office. Deutsche Bank has asked its managing directors to return to the office four days a week, while other staff have been asked to be present three days a week. The company has also announced that staff is no longer able to work from home on Fridays and Mondays. UPS is transitioning corporate employees from a three-day in-office hybrid policy to a full, five-day workweek starting March 4. The one-page cheat sheet includes a hyperlink to each source that informed this document. As leaders navigate the best RTO approach for their organizations, I am resharing this article from Microsoft WorkLab, which recommends setting “in-person” office expectations based on “moments that matter” instead of enforcing a minimum number of office days.


Deloitte’s new 122-page report on the most pressing workplace issues. One topic is “microcultures.”

Each year, HR practitioners and business professionals eagerly anticipate Deloitte's annual Global Human Capital Trends report, a comprehensive analysis of key trends reshaping work, the workforce, and the workplace. The 2024 report identifies seven trends. With insights drawn from over 14,000 survey respondents across 95 countries, the report explores topics such as redefining worker performance metrics beyond productivity, scaling human capabilities like curiosity and empathy, fostering "microcultures" within organizations, and the rise of the boundaryless HR function. The section on microcultures, beginning on page 79, emphasizes that organizations should embrace a "culture of cultures" rather than pursue a singular common culture. This approach tailors cultures to the unique needs of local teams while aligning with overarching organizational values. The authors submit that the prevalent practice of assessing “cultural fit” during interviews often overlooks the existence of “microcultures” within specific parts of an organization, leading to post-hire misalignments in cultural expectations. Other topics are discussed in this robust 122-page report.


Insights for organizations to consider as they develop and implement strategic plans for integrating AI into the workplace.

Many workers and leaders are optimistic about the transformative impact of Generative AI (GenAI) on productivity and how we work. According to this in-depth article derived from Oliver Wyman Forum’s new 99-page report, How Generative AI is Transforming Business and Society: The Good, The Bad, and Everything in Between,” it took the internet 17 years, and smartphones 21 years to achieve global adoption. However, in just months, ChatGPT and new GenAI tools have captured the attention of approximately half of the global workforce, who report using GenAI weekly at work. The article highlights that in some nations, GenAI has become as ingrained in daily tasks as checking email, with India boasting an impressive 83% weekly adoption rate. Nevertheless, "mass adoption of GenAI does not automatically guarantee mass productivity." As illustrated in this post’s image, GenAI’s impact on productivity is likely to occur in three phases: 1) Individual Benefit (e.g., employees learning GenAI on their own and incorporating it into their daily work; up to 1 year), 2) Scaling Up (e.g., a growing number of employees and teams incorporating GenAI into workflows, some jobs are restructured; 1-5 years), and 3) Workplace Maturity (e.g., full enterprise integration, 6-10 years). The article provides many other insights and data points for organizations to consider as they develop and implement strategic plans for integrating AI into the workplace.


A new report on how GenAI will impact industries, companies, and jobs; shares questions organizations should be asking in response.

The Burning Glass Institute, in partnership with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), has just released a 26-page report on how GenAI will impact industries, companies, and jobs and how it will reshape the economy. Utilizing data points from the report (e.g., industries, roles, etc.), HR can work with business leaders to ask and answer questions such as: 1) What is our level of exposure to GenAI based on our industry and occupations? 2) How might these roles be automated, augmented, or transformed via GenAI? 3) For each role, how can we prepare workers for these changes? What learning and development investments can we make to build workers’ skills in areas that will rise in importance as GenAI adoption accelerates? 4) How might GenAI affect talent shortages or surpluses in our markets of interest? In categorizing the level of impact of GenAI on jobs, the three definitions provided on page 8 include: 1) Jobs are Automated: Roles that either do not require expertise or heavily involve tasks that GenAI can do effectively today, 2) Jobs are Augmented: Roles that require substantial expertise but still involve several AI-enhanced tasks or AI-driven productivity gains. 3) Jobs are Transformed: Roles whose new unit economics allow for a complete reimagination of the job description. Another resource for categorizing four impacts AI can have on jobs and work tasks is the Deloitte AI Institute’s report, Generative AI and the Future of Work. 


A new paper that provides a one-year update from a study conducted on the 4-day workweek.

In February 2023, a team of social scientists from the University of Cambridge, working with academics from Boston College, published a paper on the results of a 6-month trial study on the 4-day workweek. The study, which is the largest of its kind, involved 61 UK organizations. The results showed that the 4-day workweek resulted in a 1) 20% reduction in working time with no loss of pay, 2) significant drops in workforce stress and sick days, 3) an increase in worker retention, 4) a much better work-life balance for most employees, 5) while ‘key business metrics’ were met. As a one-year follow-up to that paper, the research team has just published a new 50-page report providing updates from the study. A few include: 1) at least 54 out of the original 61 pilot participants have continued with the 4-day week (89%), 2) At least 31 have confirmed that the policy has been made permanent, 3) 100% of managers and CEOs said that the four-day week had a ‘positive’ or ‘very positive’ impact on their organization. Specifically, 82% of surveyed companies reported positive impacts on staff well-being, 50% saw positive effects on reducing staff turnover, and 32% said the policy had noticeably improved their recruitment. While recognizing that the 4-day workweek may not be feasible for all organizations, these empirical insights can offer valuable considerations for those contemplating this flexible work arrangement.


Research on the impact of work-from-home opportunities on working mothers.

According to the LeanIn and McKinsey & Company's 2023 Women in the Workplace Report, the largest study on women in corporate America, flexibility, such as the option to work from home (WFH), is highly valued by working mothers, with 57% stating they would leave their employer or reduce work hours without it. In a recent study by researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California, it was found that “on average, a 10% increase in WFH is associated with a 0.78 percentage point (or 0.94%) increase in mothers’ employment relative to that of other women. This result is even more pronounced in fields traditionally considered less family-friendly. These findings underscore the pivotal role of WFH in talent attraction and retention, especially for working mothers. I am resharing insights from a recent study on return-to-office (RTO) mandates, which examines 137 S&P 500 firms that publicly announced RTO mandates, analyzing their financial performance before and after implementation. Glassdoor employee reviews for these organizations were also scrutinized. Key findings include: 1) No significant changes were observed in the financial performance or stock market value of these firms after RTO mandates. 2) Glassdoor data suggests that RTO mandates adversely affected employee satisfaction. While the study is not without limitations, part of these findings challenge the notion that in-person office attendance drives company performance.

Do you want to stay in the know about who is moving in and out of the Chief HR Officer role? Access over 3500 announcements (and growing). Subscribe to CHROs on the Go now!


Overhiring, talent acquisition strategies, employee retention, mitigating talent risks, skill-based organizations, the ROI of upskilling, addressing pay gaps, and change fatigue.


Shares five tactics for mitigating overhiring in organizations.

One indicator of ineffective workforce planning is the tendency to overhire, where organizations mistakenly employ more workers than needed. Overhiring results in increased costs, diminished productivity (as revenue per employee declines), and heightened pressure on managers and teams tasked with supporting a larger workforce. This supply and demand imbalance often leads to reactive measures, such as job cuts and hiring freezes, only to resume hiring during the next surge in demand. In this article, Josh Bersin shares five tactics for mitigating overhiring, one of which involves HR and recruiters engaging in strategic discussions with hiring managers who want to open a job requisition, asking questions such as: Should this hire be filled by an internal candidate? Should this job be full-time, or is it part-time and could be shared? Should this work be outsourced because it’s not strategic? Does this team have a high turnover? If so, should we discuss why this position is even open? I would add that organizations can unlock capacity within their current workforce by asking questions such as: How can AI be used to automate specific work tasks performed by workers, freeing up worker capacity for tasks better suited for humans? How can we remove inefficiencies and barriers to getting work done? How can we utilize internal talent marketplaces to flow internal talent to where we have work demand? Implementing these strategies can help organizations mitigate overhiring and strengthen workforce planning.


A worksheet designed to identify organizations to recruit from based on their stricter return-to-office mandates and/or recent layoffs.

Many organizations continue to identify opportunities to recruit top talent for their open positions. One often-overlooked talent acquisition strategy involves recruiting from organizations undergoing layoffs, which is one reason I developed my layoff tracker. Another untapped source of attracting talent, particularly for organizations that offer flexible work arrangements, is recruiting talent from organizations that have mandated stricter return-to-office policies, such as 5-day in-office mandates (e.g., Boeing, UPS), 4-day requirements (e.g., Qualcomm), or not allowing Monday and Fridays as work-from-home days (e.g., Deutsche Bank). According to a recent survey by The Conference Board, when workers were asked about the components of compensation most important to them beyond a competitive salary, workplace flexibility ranked at the top of their list, surpassing bonus and incentive pay, paid time off, retirement plans, and health care plans. This, coupled with similar findings from other research, suggests that organizations offering fully remote or flexible hybrid work arrangements have a distinct advantage in attracting a growing talent pool that prioritizes flexible work. To assist recruiting teams in thinking through which organizations to source talent from in the context of layoffs and return-to-office mandates, this worksheet provides a way to organize their ideas.


Discusses how changing workforce demographics and the loss of experienced workers in Boeing’s assembly plants have had a negative impact on quality control.

Most would agree that managing employee retention and turnover are critical aspects of effective talent management. However, the true impact of undesirable turnover usually becomes apparent over time, as observable negative effects on organizational outcomes eventually emerge. This article outlines how aerospace experts suggest that the turnover of experienced workers at Boeing likely contributed to the company’s quality issues, such as the recent blowout of a panel on an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX. Experts also point to a demographic shift in Boeing's union, which witnessed a decrease in experienced workers. For instance, in 2020, there was a loss of 28,000 workers due to a decline in demand for new airplanes amid the Covid pandemic. The industry-wide loss of experienced workers with essential "knowledge" is considered a predictor of future quality problems, given the years it takes to master complex assembly tasks done largely by hand. The loss of experienced workers and key organizational knowledge occurs daily (often unknowingly) in organizations. Thus, it serves as an important reminder for organizations to proactively conduct workforce planning and scenario planning, as well as identify and mitigate various types of workforce risks.


An editable template to identify and address 10 talent and workforce risks.

An organization's ability to identify and manage talent and workforce risks is a critical component of effective talent management and workforce planning. Yet, many companies struggle to identify and effectively address these risks within their organizations. As HR leaders and their teams take a more expansive view of the different talent and workforce risks that can pose threats to their organizations, this editable template can help teams facilitate a discussion on this topic. For each of the 10 risks listed in column 1, utilize the subsequent columns to choose the corresponding 'risk level' that best represents the degree of risk within your organization. Clicking on the box will automatically apply a color code. The final column is designated for inserting notes related to specific risk areas that require attention. Organizations should also define what high, medium, and low-risk means for their organization. Although this template doesn't encompass all potential talent and workforce risks, it aids in considering and addressing many pertinent ones for an organization.


Raises 17 questions for critically evaluating an organization’s pursuit of becoming a skill-based organization.

Numerous resources have been shared on how various organizations are shifting toward skills-based talent practices and becoming skill-based organizations (SBOs). Most of these resources highlight the benefits of becoming an SBO and how it can help organizations achieve better talent outcomes. In this recently released report by Marc Effron of the Talent Strategy Group, he raises 17 questions that enable HR practitioners to think critically about their organizations’ pursuit of becoming an SBO. Sample questions include: Is there agreement about what a “skill” is? If a skills-based approach is needed, why is it needed? Is there a clear business case for becoming a SBO? Why focus on skills rather than on behaviors, competencies, capabilities, or experiences? I believe skill-based talent practices can be effective in select situations and specific talent practices, and I will outline why in a forthcoming book chapter in The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Professional Practice Book Series. My perspective is informed by a pilot study conducted in a business unit and based on a business case to address a real business challenge. However, practitioners must make this determination for their organizations individually, and Marc’s report can help critically evaluate and make informed decisions on this important topic.


New research examines the impact of removing academic degree requirements on the increased hiring of candidates without degrees.

Numerous headlines have discussed the shift towards skills-based hiring, where organizations prioritize candidates' skills over traditional credentials, such as academic degrees. However, does eliminating degree requirements lead to increased hiring of candidates without degrees? This new report, based on a study of 11,300 roles at large firms, spanning at least one year before and after the removal of degree requirements, revealed that, on average, firms only saw a 3.5 percentage point increase in the hiring of workers without a BA. In essence, the promised expansion of opportunities through skills-based hiring materialized in less than 1 in 700 hires last year. However, 37% of the analyzed firms, classified as Skills-Based Hiring Leaders, managed a nearly 20% increase in hiring workers without BAs. Some of these leading firms include Koch Industries, Walmart, Apple, General Motors, Target, Cigna, Tyson Foods, ExxonMobil, Yelp, as well as government employers like the State of Minnesota and the City of Denver. The research underscores that merely removing degree requirements isn't sufficient to bridge the gap between the intent and impact of skills-based hiring. Nevertheless, organizations, such as the referenced Skills-Based Hiring Leaders, that successfully navigate this transition stand to unlock the true potential of skills-based hiring. Other ideas are discussed in this 18-page paper.


A three-step approach to assist companies in better evaluating the "return on learning investment" (ROLI).

Many organizations are reskilling and upskilling their workforce. Given the substantial time, resources, and financial investments involved in these initiatives, it is imperative to pinpoint reliable measures for assessing the business impact of these efforts. However, organizations often struggle to find effective ways to gauge the effectiveness of their upskilling initiatives. This article proposes a three-step approach to assist companies in better evaluating the "return on learning investment" (ROLI) of upskilling and reskilling. The suggested steps include: 1) Clearly define upfront the business outcomes or impact they intend to achieve; 2) establish metrics to hold the program accountable and measure progress; and 3) determine whether the desired impact has been realized. Exhibit 1 showcases various metrics for assessing the impact of learning programs. When defining metrics and timeframes, it is crucial to be realistic about when the impact is expected. As noted in the article, improvements may not be apparent until year-end or later when reviewing key performance indicators (KPIs). Alongside developing “end state” metrics, I recommend incorporating "mini indicators" that would help measure directional progress throughout shorter intervals (e.g., months 1-2, 3-6, 9, etc). This approach provides an ongoing measure of progress while acknowledging that the true impact might take a longer duration to manifest.


How a pay equity analysis can help uncover systematic biases in an organization’s salary structure.

Pay equity—equal pay for team members performing “similar” job duties while factoring in variables such as experience, job performance, and tenure— remains a critical concern for many organizations. To enhance pay equity, several states and localities have implemented legislation stressing pay transparency in job advertisements, where employers disclose the wage scale or salary range. While these initiatives signify progress, this new article emphasizes how a structured pay equity analysis can help to close pay gaps. Unlike approaches focusing solely on underpaid employees, a pay equity analysis considers qualifications and responsibilities, addressing systematic biases and pinpointing specific areas within a company's salary structure causing pay gaps; the article details this process. I posit that another factor contributing to pay inequities lies in performance management (PM) practices. Given that many organizations tie pay rewards to performance ratings or other indicators of performance, ineffective PM practices can significantly impact pay equity. One example lies in the goal-setting process, where goals may not be uniformly challenging across team members, resulting in lenient evaluations for some and stricter ones for others. Addressing pay equity requires organizations to analyze how their PM practices either support or detract from equitable compensation.


Covers how organizations can consider “change fatigue” when determining the timing and pace of technology changes and implementations.

As many organizations navigate numerous changes in the workplace, I continue to receive requests for resources on change management. Behind these inquiries lies a growing concern that the volume and pace of changes workers undergo contribute to employee burnout and change fatigue. Among the various factors contributing to this sentiment, the overwhelming number of technology changes employees face in an organization stands out. Against this backdrop, I am re-sharing this paper highlighting how organizations can consider "change fatigue" when deciding the timing and pace of technology changes and implementations. The paper includes a case study from Sky Cable, illustrating how they plan and implement technology changes based on employee capacity, not just business urgency. Employee capacity is gauged through qualitative discussions with business leaders, using questions such as: "Of the changes discussed, which one do you expect to cause the most stress and fatigue in your team?" Based on these assessments, leaders decide whether to rescope, release, delay, or eliminate changes. As Chief HR Officers and their teams collaborate closely with CIOs and the IT function in managing tech implementations, the two functions can partner to integrate fatigue as a crucial component of the organization's decision-making process concerning the timing and nature of technology releases.


Chief HR Officers impact in three areas, talent priorities of interest to boards of directors, and a template for (re)evaluating HR priorities.


Provides ideas on how Chief HR Officers can support their organizations through hybrid work, AI, and leadership development.

This paper presents ideas on how Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) can guide their organizations and employees through extensive changes and disruptions in the business and work environment. The recommendations focus on three key areas: hybrid work, artificial intelligence (AI), and leadership development. In terms of aiding the organization in capitalizing on the benefits of AI, CHROs can take five potential actions: 1) Develop and implement AI literacy programs for the entire workforce, 2) Support the creation and fulfillment of new roles that bring AI expertise to the organization, 3) Model experimentation with AI through pilots and use cases in human capital management functions like recruiting, learning and development, and career planning, 4) Advocate for a governance policy to mitigate the risks of AI use across the organization, and 5) Implement reskilling strategies for job roles at high risk of being replaced by AI, thereby amplifying the opportunities AI creates. Regarding the advocacy for a governance policy that establishes guidelines for AI utilization within organizations, I am resharing another paper by The Conference Board, titled Generative AI: Questions CHROs Should Ask, which includes 35 questions that CHROs can help their organizations answer.


Insights into which talent and workforce-related topics boards are prioritizing. I share a bonus resource.

Many organizations' boards of directors are increasingly exercising closer oversight of talent and workforce-related topics. To understand how boards are approaching these issues, the Deloitte Global Boardroom Program conducted a survey involving nearly 500 board members and C-suite executives in over 50 countries, spanning various industries and company sizes. Key findings reveal that 1) only 36% of respondents believe the conversations within the board are sufficient to fully explore the talent agenda, indicating a gap between what boards know and what they feel they need to know. 2) The top two talent and workforce-related priorities of boards are: a) aligning workforce-related investments with strategic priorities and b) maximizing benefits through the integration of technology and the workforce—both tied at 42%; c) building a resilient pipeline of talent for top leadership closely follows at 40%. When assessing workforce-related risks impacting organizational performance, 78% of respondents highlight skills and talent availability as the top risk. Although addressing standalone talent and workforce topics is crucial, Chief HR Officers must integrate interconnected workplace topics into an overall talent narrative. With this in mind, I am resharing The Conference Board’s report, Telling the Human Capital Management Story. This 20-page report includes ideas on how to communicate and tailor the messages of an organization’s talent narrative to different stakeholder groups while still drawing from a single source of truth.


My one-page template for reevaluating HR priorities and initiatives. Can be used for non-HR functions.

Most organizations are well underway in executing their goals and objectives for 2024. While it is still early in the new year, it is not uncommon for organizations to be faced with changing circumstances (e.g., layoffs, talent shortages, a shift in the business environment) that require them to reevaluate priorities. As HR leaders face decisions throughout the year to reprioritize talent initiatives, here is my one-page template that can be used to facilitate conversations and decisions. The editable template provides space to list all HR initiatives, evaluate their impact on delivering stakeholder value, and assess the complexity and level of investment for each initiative. Leaders can then decide whether to stay the course, deprioritize, or further reevaluate objectives. Like all templates I share, this tool aims to jumpstart discussions and dialogue that can help teams make informed decisions. If you have not received my 2024 HR Goals and Priorities template—which helps to document and track progress for your 2024 objectives—you can take 2 minutes to complete your Talent Edge Weekly subscriber survey and get the template emailed to you in 5 minutes after you submit. The template can also be used by non-HR functions.


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 organizations that announced job cuts in February include:

  • Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO). The technology company announced plans to lay off 5% of its global workforce, a little more than 4,000 workers, as part of a company-wide restructuring. The layoffs would begin this year and continue into next year.

  • Estee Lauder (NYSE: EL). The cosmetics maker will be cutting its staff by 3%-5% or roughly 3,000 positions. The company is undertaking these layoffs to cut its expenses.

  • Hershey (NYSE: HSY). Announced a new two-year restructuring program to generate about $300 million in pre-tax savings after projecting annual sales and profit below Wall Street expectations. The restructuring will impact less than 5% of the company's workforce and will result in up to $60 million in severance expenses.

  • Paypal (NASDAQ: PYPL). Is planning to cut ~2,500 jobs or 9% of its global workforce, in an effort to ‘right-size’ the company through both direct cuts and the elimination of open roles throughout the year.

  • UPS (NYSE: UPS). Will cut roughly 12,000 non-union jobs following a year-over-year decline in revenue. The workforce reduction is part of an effort to save the company nearly $1 billion. Managers and contractor positions will make up most of the layoffs.


82 Chief HR Officers were hired, promoted, and/or resigned in February. A few headlines include:

If you want access to +3500 (and growing) detailed announcements of CHROs hired, promoted, and resigning, join CHROs on the Go.

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


Share Talent Edge Weekly with others and earn rewards in the meantime!

You currently have 0 referrals, only 1 away from receiving a Shout out in the newsletter!

Or copy and paste your referral link to others: https://talentedgeweekly.com/subscribe?ref=PLACEHOLDER


Check out my website at brianheger.com for +1300 FREE curated resources!

What did you think of this week's Talent Edge?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

It is always helpful when you provide a comment as well!

I look forward to sharing more resources with you throughout March!



​​brianheger.com provides free access to +1,300 curated articles, research reports, podcasts, etc. that help practitioners drive better business results through strategic human resources and talent management.

CHROS on the Go is a subscription that provides the easiest and most convenient way to stay informed about Chief Human Resources Officer hires, promotions, and resignations in organizations of all sizes and industries.

​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, Twitter, and brianheger.com.