Talent Edge Weekly - Best of January Issue #220

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


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

  1. Workforce Trends. 2024 work trends, CEO outlook, AI in the workplace, remote and hybrid work, and return-to-office mandates.

  2. Talent Practices. Talent planning, performance management, talent reviews, succession planning, internal mobility, critical roles, diversity equity inclusion, the Board’s role in talent management, and organizational transformation.

  3. Skills. Becoming a skills-based organization, examples of skills-based practices, and skills-based hiring.

Also includes the Job Cuts Tracker and Chief HR Officer Hire of the Month.

Since this special 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.

Let’s dive in. ⬇️



Covers 9 work trends and predictions across four themes. Includes a bonus podcast.

Gartner has recently released its nine workplace predictions for 2024 and beyond, outlining key trends that HR leaders should focus on to attract and retain top talent while driving business outcomes. These predictions are categorized into four themes: 1) The shifting employee value proposition (EVP), 2) New manager necessities, 3) The collapse of career assumptions, and 4) AI reshaping work. One prediction related to the shifting EVP is: The Cost-of-Work Crisis Reaches a Breaking Point. This prediction emphasizes that return-to-office mandates are leading workers to be more acutely aware of the expenses incurred in the process of going to work. One implication is that employees may look for EVPs that help offset expenses through offerings such as caregiving benefits, housing subsidies, financial well-being programs, and more. The impact can be even greater in organizations that are opting for a return to five days in the office. Another prediction is the collapse of career assumptions, signaling a reduced stigma around candidates taking "career breaks" or those who choose not to pursue typical progressive career trajectories. Gartner has also shared a 28-minute podcast on these trends.


Select insights from two CEO 2024 outlook reports, shedding light on talent implications.

The Conference Board and PwC recently released reports on CEOs' outlooks for 2024, providing insights into talent implications. According to the 29-page PwC report, 25% of CEOs anticipate a 5% or more reduction in headcount in 2024 due to generative AI. This raises organizational questions, such as: which areas of our business will AI most affect in terms of job changes, and how can we redeploy affected talent to meet our organization’s other talent needs? On average, CEOs report that 40% of time spent on meetings, administrative processes, and emails in their organizations is inefficient. A key question for organizations to ask: what changes in our ways of working can reduce inefficiencies, unlock workforce capacity, and promote employee wellbeing? The 35-page Conference Board report notes that global CEOs' top overall priority is to attract and retain talent due to concerns about labor shortages and rising costs. This prompts questions, such as: How can we tap into less obvious talent pools to find overlooked and “hidden” talent? What changes can be made to our internal mobility strategies for swift talent redeployment? Page 22 (shown in the post image) also examines the alignment of CEOs and CHROs on human capital priorities. CEOs and CHROs agree on the top two priorities for human capital: developing leadership and workforce capabilities and strengthening organizational culture. Other ideas are discussed.


A report, coauthored by Accenture’s Chief Leadership & HR Officer, Ellyn Shook, on how GenAI is impacting the workforce and how leaders can respond.

Both strategic workforce planning (SWP) and AI in the workplace are currently commanding the attention of numerous organizations. Despite being frequently addressed separately, there is a strong interconnection between both topics. For example, AI has the potential to automate specific work tasks performed by workers, creating an opportunity for organizations to free up worker capacity. Said differently, while one SWP strategy aims to increase capacity by acquiring new talent, another tactic involves unlocking the capacity of a firm’s current workforce by offloading some of their tasks to AI, subsequently reallocating capacity to tasks better suited for humans. Within this context, this new 48-page report provides valuable insights, with Figure 10 on page 37 (shown in the post image) illustrating how work and roles can be reallocated to AI. As organizations assess the impact of AI on various roles and tasks, Deloitte AI Institute's report, Generative AI and the Future of Work, is also a helpful reference, presenting a framework for categorizing four types of impacts that AI can have on jobs and work tasks. These impacts range from Automated Tasks (machines or AI perform the task best) to Augmented Skills (Humans working with machines/AI perform the task best). Other ideas are discussed in both reports.


A 17-page report offering guidance on strategies to help employees adapt and develop alongside AI technologies.

This white paper is a continuation of the World Economic Forum’s September 2023 report, Jobs of Tomorrow: Large Language Models and Jobs. The September report shared insights into AI's direct impact on various jobs and work tasks using a four-component framework: 1) High potential for automation: Going forward, the task will be performed by AI, not humans. 2) High potential for augmentation: Humans will continue to perform the task, and AI will increase human productivity. 3) Low potential for either automation or augmentation: Humans will continue to perform the task with no significant impact from AI. 4) Unaffected. Non-AI tasks, such as those that emphasize physical movement (e.g., loading products for transport). The new report, which was published in December 2023, functions as a toolkit for businesses, offering guidance on strategies to help employees adapt and develop alongside AI technologies. As a supplement to these two reports, the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report explores how jobs and skills will evolve over the next five years. One finding from this report is that employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. All three resources offer organizations valuable insights for evaluating the impact of AI on the future of work.


Shares research on how remote work opportunities are prevalent for certain work segments.

This article explores the growing disparity in remote work opportunities, particularly emphasizing its prevalence in higher-paying roles that demand more experience, full-time employment, and advanced education. Drawing insights from a U.S. online job advertisement database, key research findings include: Work experience. Only 3% of entry-level jobs offer remote work options, while over 25% of positions requiring at least seven years of experience embrace remote work. Education. Only 1.9% of jobs requiring a high school education provide remote work, compared to 29% for roles demanding a post-graduate degree. Full-time vs. part-time. A mere 3% of part-time job ads feature remote work opportunities, contrasting with over 10% for full-time job ads. Pay Level. Higher salaries are associated with an increasing prevalence of remote or hybrid work options. In 2023, around 10% of $60,000 jobs, 20% of $100,000 jobs, and over 30% of $200,000 jobs offer remote or hybrid work. The authors, which include Nick Bloom, a Professor of Economics at Stanford University who has been studying remote work for over two decades, urge managers and executives to consider how to close this gap (e.g., offer alternative forms of flexibility, such as a four-day workweek; offer pay adjustments to offset the uneven benefits associated with remote work). As leaders think through multiple implications of remote work decisions, I am resharing my one-page playlist of five resources to consider.


Explores how return-to-office mandates in a segment of S&P 500 firms impact financial performance and employee sentiment.

As leaders navigate decisions regarding return-to-office (RTO) mandates, this new research paper, currently undergoing peer review, provides valuable data for their consideration. Conducted by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the study delves into 137 S&P 500 firms that publicly announced RTO mandates, examining their financial performance on the stock market before and after RTO implementation. Additionally, the impact of strict RTO policies on workers was explored by analyzing Glassdoor employee reviews for S&P 500 firms. 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 negatively affected employee satisfaction. Part of the study’s findings challenge the notion that in-person office attendance drives company performance. While organizations can mandate office returns based on perceived necessities for company performance, it's advantageous when these decisions are objective and data-driven to mitigate unintended consequences, such as employee turnover and talent attraction challenges. In line with this, I am resharing my post that references two studies revealing how managers tend to underestimate the performance of remote workers.


Talent planning, performance management, talent reviews, succession planning, internal mobility, critical roles, diversity equity inclusion, the Board’s role in talent management, and organizational transformation.


Includes 3 worksheets for creating a narrative that connects business strategy, talent needs, and talent actions.

In my 2016 article, Linking Talent Strategy with Business Strategy, I wrote about the critical importance of creating a talent strategy that aligns with and enables an organization’s business strategy. While the concept of linking the two may seem straightforward, the execution is often challenging. However, engaging in meaningful discussions with key stakeholders and asking pertinent questions can facilitate this connection, allowing HR leaders and their teams to articulate their talent strategy, identify desired talent outcomes, devise tactics for achievement, and establish measures for impact evaluation. To assist in this process, I am sharing three worksheets designed to guide teams in thinking through various aspects of their organization's business and talent strategy. These worksheets cover 1) Business Strategy, which sets the business context by addressing the overall vision, business objectives, and potential scenarios, to name a few. 2) Talent Needs, exploring required capabilities and the roles and skills essential for executing the business strategy, etc. 3) Talent Actions, establishing diverse tactics (e.g., build, buy, borrow, bot) to address talent gaps. Connecting talent strategy and business strategy can be approached in various ways; this is one potential way that might help. Feel free to use it if you believe it can support your efforts.


While the title is a bit misleading, the article shares ideas for mitigating bias during performance review calibrations. Bonus article provided.

One of the primary goals of performance management (PM) is to provide unbiased and objective performance feedback and evaluations. Nonetheless, PM remains imperfect and vulnerable to bias. To address biases that could impact managers’ accurate assessment of their direct reports' performance, many organizations conduct PM calibration meetings. During these sessions, managers and leaders discuss employee performance using formal ratings or similar criteria aligned with established standards. However, the effectiveness of these meetings varies depending on their structure and management. Research referenced in this HBR article shows that while PM calibration discussions help reduce specific biases, they can inadvertently introduce others into the evaluation process. One issue highlighted is how unstructured meetings might result in time-based biases, where certain groups receive extensive discussion time while others don't due to time constraints. The article proposes strategies to mitigate biases during these sessions. You can check out Marc Effron’s article, How to Crush Bias in Performance Management. Marc shares multiple practices for mitigating PM bias, starting with effective goal setting (e.g., using a process to ensure that goals are set at a consistent level of challenge within a function or group), which is the most effective way to minimize PM bias.


Practical tactics to help organizations get better results from their talent reviews. Bonus resource on high-potential identification criteria provided.

Many organizations conduct talent reviews—with the primary goal of identifying and developing employees with the greatest potential. However, certain factors can detract from the effectiveness of these reviews, such as using less predictive criteria for evaluating potential. In this article by Marc Effron, he shares several insights into how organizations can make their talent reviews more effective. One key point emphasizes the common confusion between high performance and high potential among managers during talent reviews. According to Marc, the main purpose of talent reviews is to predict how far and how fast someone can advance into a larger, more complex role. Potential must be defined in this way, focusing on the ability to grow beyond one’s current role. Another suggestion is to focus on the talent review discussion rather than the tools used. Organizations often grapple with which tool to use, ranging from 4-box to 28-box grids. Any tool separating the discussion of performance from potential is helpful. The critical component lies in the descriptors used to define potential, guided by research and science. To support this effort, I am resharing a book chapter from the SIOP Professional Practice Series book Strategy-Driven Talent Management by Allan Church and Rob Silzer. It provides robust and research-based criteria on indicators of potential, and you can download it directly through ResearchGate.


An editable template with 11 questions for thinking through aspects of an organization’s succession practices.

This one-page template includes a sample of 11 succession planning (SP) questions that can help organizations think through various aspects of their SP practices. The questions do not represent an exhaustive list but provide a foundation to build on. Sample questions include: Scope. Based on our SP purpose, what is the scope of our SP? Do we focus on roles at certain levels, critical roles regardless of level, or something else? Role vs. Pool. Are there areas where SP will be based on ‘successor pools’ —where similar roles are grouped together and share a talent pool of potential successors? If so, what are they? Future Focused. How will our SP process go about planning for roles or capabilities that don’t exist today but will be needed in the future? Development. If a successor is on multiple succession plans, how do we determine what plan takes priority in terms of successor development? For each question, there is an editable comment box where you can track notes.


New research on how managers who help promote their direct reports attract more and better internal applicants for their open jobs.

Internal mobility, the movement of employees across different work opportunities within an organization, is crucial for effective talent management. However, organizations encounter barriers to internal talent movement, with talent hoarding posing a significant challenge. Talent hoarding, where managers discourage employees from pursuing other internal opportunities, may offer short-term benefits to managers but hinder their ability to attract internal talent in the long run. Recent research published in the Academy of Management, analyzing 96,712 internal applications across 9,896 jobs in a large organization over five years, reveals that managers who frequently help to promote their direct reports attract a greater number of high-quality and functionally diverse internal applicants. This finding underscores the importance of managers fostering a culture of talent mobility instead of hoarding. Given managers' potential unawareness of talent-hoarding behaviors, cultivating self-awareness becomes crucial. With that in mind, I am resharing my post, Five Indicators of Manager Talent Hoarding. I am also resharing the HBR article by Kevin Oakes (CEO of i4cp), Let Your Top Performers Move Around the Company, where he covers how firms can create a culture that encourages internal mobility, such as having managers develop a performance goal of consistently rotating internal talent (especially top talent) out of their team and into other internal groups.


Provides real examples of how various organizations are implementing DEI practices.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) remain a top priority for many organizations. However, translating this priority into quantifiable, scalable, and sustainable DEI practices remains a challenge for many. To aid organizations in navigating this journey and implementing impactful DEI practices, this comprehensive 38-page report offers valuable insights. One section starting on page 9 covers seven case studies featuring organizations leading the way in DEI practices, such as HEINEKEN and PepsiCo. One example involves McKinsey & Company, which, upon analyzing internal retention metrics, identified higher attrition rates among mothers returning from leave compared to their colleagues. In response, the company launched a reboarding program implemented across its European offices, providing comprehensive support to all colleagues—regardless of gender—returning from leaves exceeding 12 weeks. This initiative resulted in a noteworthy 20% reduction in attrition among mothers returning from leave. In addition to these seven case studies, the report also sheds light on practices from six other organizations and outlines a framework comprising five common success factors across DEI efforts (see page 8).


My new one-page template for identifying critical roles based on the extent to which they enable strategic capabilities.

An organization’s ability to identify and plan for its critical roles is an important aspect of workforce planning and talent management. However, organizations often encounter common pitfalls in identifying their critical roles, including basing a role's criticality solely on its job level, overlooking non-executive roles; determining criticality based on the difficulty of filling a role, which may not accurately reflect its criticality; and assessing role criticality based on the incumbent rather than the role's impact on creating value for the organization and its stakeholders. Against this backdrop, I am sharing my new one-page editable template aimed to help organizations identify critical roles based on their impact on enabling strategic capabilities. The template allows an organization to list 4 to 5 strategic capabilities vital to its business strategy and evaluate roles against them. By placing a checkmark for each role that has a disproportionate impact on the strategic capabilities, the visual output can provide a foundation for further discussion. While other factors contribute to role criticality, strategic capabilities play a crucial role. 


Covers talent and workplace topics of interest to the Board. Includes 38 questions.

The board of directors (BofD) in many organizations has shown an increased interest in talent and workforce matters in recent years. This heightened attention stems from multiple factors, including investors' growing emphasis on talent management as a competitive edge. Whether it involves understanding the impact of AI in the workplace, interpreting the implications of remote work policy on employee retention, or complying with SEC human capital disclosure requirements, various aspects of talent management hold higher stakes and risks, demanding the BofD guidance. This article offers insights on how boards can enhance their oversight of talent management. Among the many resources is Appendix B, which includes 38 questions that BofD can pose to HR leaders concerning various facets of talent, such as succession planning, diversity, equity, inclusion, employee recruitment, retention, and workforce metrics. For example, one question related to recruitment is: What changes has the company made to expand its employee pipeline — for example, hiring nontraditional candidates? Even for organizations not governed by a BofD, these questions serve as a valuable resource for HR leaders to articulate their organization’s talent strategy to various stakeholders.


Offers ideas on enabling both the "what" (strategy and outcomes) and “how” (behavior and mindset) of transformation initiatives.

I have been receiving an increasing number of resource requests on the topic of strategies and tactics for successful organizational transformations. With numerous organizations undergoing various types of transformations and a reported 70% failure rate of organizational transformation efforts in general, many practitioners and business leaders are actively seeking ideas and practices to enhance the likelihood of achieving their organizations' transformation goals. This new and comprehensive BCG article offers diverse ideas on enabling organizational transformation initiatives. The article underscores the common tendency of organizations to focus heavily or solely on the strategy and expected value delivery in a transformation. While concentrating on value delivery is crucial (the "what"), the article highlights the equal importance of addressing changes in people's behavior and mindset (the "how"). The article discusses how the success of transformation efforts can be increased by up to 50% when managed through a transformation office (TO)—which acts as a nerve center coordinating many workstreams, timelines, and priorities. Ideas are provided for establishing and implementing a TO. There is also a section on how culture and change management work can be deployed to bring the “how” of the transformation to life through specific activities that encourage and reinforce behavioral change.


Becoming a skills-based organization, examples of skills-based practices, and skills-based hiring.


Provides insights and considerations into becoming a skills-based organization; presents a case study.

There's a prevalent narrative about becoming a skills-driven organization (SDO)—where skills rather than jobs serve as the basis for an organization’s talent practices, such as hiring and workforce planning. However, as highlighted in this 8-page paper, the transition to SDO is intricate, demanding a thorough readiness assessment before initiation. A crucial step in this shift is articulating the rationale for becoming an SDO. HR practitioners play a pivotal role in helping leaders understand the answers to fundamental questions, such as: Why invest effort in transitioning to a skills-based approach? How does this shift provide incremental value to organizational stakeholders? What are the practical consequences if this change isn't made? The paper shares an example of how Ericsson implemented its journey to becoming an SDO, notably beginning with a compelling case for change and utilizing simplified language to communicate advantages. Figure 1 illustrates how Ericsson made the case for change by drawing from trends and internal pain points. As a bonus, I am resharing 10 Q&As I curated from different sources that address questions on skills-based organizations.


Shares real examples of how organizations are implementing skills-based talent practices.

Numerous resources have been shared on how organizations are shifting more toward skills-based talent practices. While these resources offer valuable insights, they often lack real-world examples of how organizations are translating these skills-based ideas into action. The World Economic Forum addresses this gap in its new 48-page report, part of which showcases 13 case studies referred to as "Lighthouses." Starting on page 16, these case studies highlight how eight employer-based organizations and five more from the government and education sectors are implementing skills-based approaches based on various purposes. A few examples include Natixis, which revamped its internal mobility policies to align jobs with future skill demands, and the London Stock Exchange Group, which streamlined ~25,000 jobs into 1,100 distinct profiles with requisite skills and proficiency levels. As an internal HR practitioner, I find this resource helpful in translating skills-based ideas into action. With this in mind, I also look forward to sharing my upcoming book chapter in the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Professional Practices Book Series, where I discuss insights and learnings from a real-world example of skill-based talent practices.


Highlights the shift towards skills-based hiring over traditional academic degree-focused recruitment. Bonus article on internal talent marketplace.

This article emphasizes the shift many organizations are making toward skills-based hiring. It highlights the advantages of this approach for broadening the talent pool to include self-taught individuals and those who gained their skills through experience rather than solely through academic qualifications. While the article provides many noteworthy trends in skills-based hiring (such as the US leading this shift while other countries like Singapore still heavily emphasize degrees), it also offers examples of how organizations can make this transition. For instance, Goldman Sachs recently adopted a 'skillset recruiting' approach, where candidates don’t apply for specific jobs but instead apply to particular skill areas. Through skills testing on the company’s new online platform, relevant job recommendations are made to candidates based on their skills. The authors also mention how organizations can efficiently evaluate candidate skills by considering proxies like micro-credentials, online course completions, recommendations, or project results. Additionally, it highlights how companies are using skills to match internal talent to opportunities such as jobs, projects, and assignments through Internal Talent Marketplaces (ITMs). Regarding ITMs, I'm resharing a recent article, How to Start Smart With a Talent Marketplace, that delves into Booz Allen’s initial year experience in launching an ITM, shedding light on the hurdles faced, strategies applied, and key lessons learned.


Partial view of tracker

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

A few firms that announced job cuts in January include:

  • Citigroup. (NYSE: C). Announced plans to lay off 20,000 employees over the next two years. The reduction comes after the company reported a $1.8 billion net loss for the fourth quarter of 2023, its worst quarter in 15 years.

  • Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NTLA). The biotech company will lay off 15% of its total workforce to streamline operations. As part of these layoffs, the company will pause certain exploratory research-stage programs.

  • Macy’s (NYSE: M). The department store chain is set to lay off 13% of corporate staff (3.5% of overall staff) and close five stores in an effort to shed costs, eliminate management layers, and redirect spending toward improving customers’ shopping experience. Job cuts began on Jan 26.

  • Wayfair (NYSE: W). The e-commerce company announced it would lay off 1,650 employees, or about 13% of its workforce. The cuts will affect 19% of its corporate employees.

  • Xerox (NASDAQ: XRX). Announced plans to reduce its workforce by 15% as part of a strategic initiative to introduce a new organizational structure and operating model. The workforce reduction is expected to impact around 3,075 employees.


​​Gap Inc. (SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA) [NYSE: GP]—the largest American specialty apparel company—announced the appointment of Amy Thompson as Chief People Officer, effective January 22. Thompson will join Gap Inc.'s executive leadership team and report to Gap Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer, Richard Dickson. Ms. Thompson most recently served as Chief People Officer at Mattel, and before that, as Chief People Officer at TOMS and in HR executive roles at Starbucks and Ticketmaster.

Amy Thompson

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