Talent Edge Weekly - Best of June - Issue #246

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

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THIS MONTH’S CONTENT

This special Best of June issue brings you 16 of the most popular articles and resources from the June issues of Talent Edge Weekly. The resources are categorized into 3 sections:

  1. HR Effectiveness and Chief HR Officer. The evolving role of the Chief HR Officer, HR innovation, AI in HR, and HR initiative prioritization.

  2. Talent Practices. Skills-based talent practices, internal mobility, leadership assessment, workforce planning, people analytics, and organization network analysis.

  3. Culture and Ways of Working. Eliminating lower value work, “covering cultures,” return-to-office (RTO) strategy, hybrid work, and reframing the RTO conversation.

This issue includes many bonus resources, news about company layoffs, and updates on Chief HR Officers hired or promoted in June.

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

Ready for a deep dive into this month’s content? Let’s jump in. ⬇️

THIS MONTH’S EDGE

I. HR EFFECTIVENESS AND CHRO

The evolving role of the Chief HR Officer, HR innovation, AI in HR, and HR initiative prioritization.

CHRO EFFECTIVENESS

Addresses how the CHRO role increasingly requires a blend of business savvy, technological understanding, and deep HR expertise.

The Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) role continues to grow in importance in many organizations. In this new article by Josh Bersin, he emphasizes how the CHRO role is becoming increasingly multifaceted and vital, requiring a blend of business savvy, technological understanding, and deep HR expertise. This evolving landscape presents both challenges and opportunities for current and aspiring CHROs. Key areas include: updating HR technology, where CHROs must modernize complex legacy systems and leverage AI to enhance efficiency and employee experience; organizational redesign, as companies shift from traditional hierarchies to more agile, cross-functional structures, requiring CHROs to lead changes in job roles, pay structures, performance management, and career development; and mergers and acquisitions (M&A), where CHROs are crucial in integrating new acquisitions, aligning leadership, and managing potential downsizing. Ideas are discussed for these and other areas. As a bonus, I am resharing the 37-page Accenture report: The CHRO as Growth Executive. It covers how 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.

HR INNOVATION

Shares three ways that HR can enable greater innovation within the function, including defining the value of each HR innovation.

The HR function continuously seeks innovative solutions to address both ongoing and emerging workforce challenges. However, as highlighted in this Gartner article, HR often faces significant barriers to innovation, such as insufficient collaboration among HR teams and a lack of a clear process for proposing new ideas. The article suggests three strategies to overcome these challenges: 1) defining the value of HR innovation, 2) embedding innovation networks, and 3) establishing structured innovation processes. Concerning the first strategy— defining HR innovation’s value— Figure 1 presents a framework of seven critical dimensions to guide the focus and scope of innovative initiatives. At the company level, these dimensions include novelty, market impact, timing, and scale. The program or initiative level encompasses focus, participation, and breadth.  Each dimension provides a range of options, such as the Novelty dimension, which spans from "something we haven’t done" to "something nobody in the world has done," and the Scale dimension, which ranges from "small/incremental" to "large/radical." This framework could be helpful to HR leaders and their teams as they evaluate and articulate the scope, benefits, and value of their innovations.

AI IN HR

IBM’s CHRO, Nickle LaMoreaux, shares how the company started its AI journey by gaining some quick AI wins.

AI has significant potential to enable productivity in HR. A BCG analysis suggests that AI can boost HR productivity by up to 30 percent across the value chain. To tap this potential, HR leaders must carefully choose which AI use cases to explore to add value for organizational stakeholders. In this article, IBM's Chief HR Officer, Nickle LaMoreaux, describes how IBM started its AI in HR journey by eliminating inefficient processes, leading to quick wins. The HR team targeted high-volume, repetitive tasks, processes that employees find tedious, and critical moments where accuracy and speed are crucial. This focus resulted in the introduction of AskHR, a digital AI assistant that now answers 94 percent of HR FAQs and policy questions worldwide, reducing task completion time by over 75 percent. The article covers five lessons learned in implementing AI in HR, including the importance of leading with use cases rather than technology. Nickle also advises HR leaders not to wait for “the perfect time” or “that perfect project” to start taking action simply because it doesn’t exist; delaying AI implementation only puts teams further behind. As HR teams consider use cases to explore, here is my editable AI in HR use cases worksheet as an additional resource. Also, here is a web version of the IBM article as an alternative to the PDF.

HR PRIORITIZATION

My one-page editable template for reevaluating HR priorities and initiatives. It can also be used for non-HR functions.

As we reach the midpoint of 2024, it's a natural time to reflect on progress toward the organizational goals and objectives set at the start of the year. While many organizations, teams, and individuals are well on their way to achieving these goals, some goals may need to be reprioritized due to changing circumstances, such as layoffs, talent shortages, or shifts in the business environment. As HR leaders and their teams face decisions about reevaluating HR priorities and initiatives, here is my one-page template to facilitate these conversations. This editable template provides space to list all HR initiatives, evaluate their impact on delivering stakeholder value, and assess the complexity and level of investment required for execution over the remainder of the year. Teams 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 help teams make informed decisions. Tailor it to your needs and enhance it by adding criteria for ‘business impact’ and ‘investment & complexity’ that fit your organization. The tool can also be used for non-HR functions.

SKILLS-BASED PRACTICES

A 56-page playbook covering various aspects of skills-based talent practices, from the initial planning steps to opportunities and challenges related to technology.

As more organizations shift towards skill-based talent practices, this 56-page playbook offers valuable insights. Based on input from VP and C-suite HR leaders, it articulates the benefits of a skills-based approach to talent management. Chapter 2, starting on page 16, covers the process and considerations for skills validation—assessing and confirming workers’ existing skills. The playbook notes that skills acquired through training and education are easier to measure, while skills earned through experience require additional effort to validate. Various skill measurement approaches are discussed, including self-assessments, peer assessments, third-party assessments, and AI-based inferences from performance records, certifications, and other credentials. Regarding self-assessment for skills validation, Scott and Pearlman (2010), in the Handbook of Workplace Assessment, caution that self-assessment can lead to workers overestimating their competence or failing to recognize development areas. While adding a manager validation step increases complexity, Scott and Pearlman note that many organizations find the added step to provide incremental value. Organizations must consider which combination of skills-validation strategies to employ to reduce implicit bias and generate more accurate estimations of worker skills. The playbook provides examples of how various organizations approach different aspects of skills-based talent practices.

SKILLS-BASED PRACTICES

A PDF with 20 questions and answers that I’ve curated from different reports on skills-based talent practices.

Many organizations continue to make the transition to skills-based talent practices (SBTP)—where the focus is more on an individual’s skills rather than job titles, academic degrees, or years of experience when it comes to attracting, hiring, developing, and redeploying talent. However, the shift to SBTP can be a long journey, requiring practitioners to answer various questions about the operationalization and implementation of SBTP. As talent practitioners think through the various aspects of this transition, here are 20 Q&As I have curated from various reports. The 20 Q&As address questions such as: How many organizations have successfully transitioned to a skills-based organization (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 tangible, practical things can organizations do to start their journey to becoming an SBO? This resource includes the question, an answer, and a link to the document from which the information was sourced.

INTERNAL MOBILITY

My new template to help organizations evaluate the impact of their internal mobility (IM) guidelines on internal talent movement.

Many organizations have internal mobility (IM) policies and guidelines to support career development. These guidelines are intended to facilitate better decision-making, streamline internal processes, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and minimize business disruption. IM guidelines often include things such as: 1) Tenure: conditions on how long an employee should be in a role or with the company before applying to other internal opportunities; 2) Manager Approval: requiring employees to request and receive permission from their managers before they can apply for an internal role; and 3) Levels: restricting employees from applying for roles beyond a certain level from their current role. While guidelines can be helpful, certain types can impede internal movement by overly regulating the rules and conditions under which these moves occur. As you consider your organization’s IM guidelines and policies, which do you believe are necessary and enable internal mobility? Which detracts from IM and should be eliminated or modified? Critically evaluating these questions can help organizations create guidelines that fuel internal movement. To support your effort, here is my template to facilitate a discussion on the topic.

LEADERSHIP ASSESSMENT

Allan Church, James Scrivani, and Markus Graf share three main reasons why standard "out of the box" leadership assessment approaches often fall short.

Few would dispute that an organization’s ability to identify and develop future leaders better and faster than its competitors can provide an advantage. Just as speed-to-market with a product enables an organization to get ahead of the competition, a steady pipeline of leaders, ready to respond to future challenges and opportunities, provides a competitive edge. Despite significant investments in leadership assessments and development programs, doubts persist regarding their return on investment. In this article, Allan Church, James Scrivani, and Markus Graf share three main reasons why standard "out of the box" leadership assessment approaches often fall short. 1) Lack of Future Focus and Cultural Relevance: Generic models of leadership are less effective for building the specific capabilities needed for an organization's future success. 2) Over-reliance on Specific Methods or Tools: Using a single method or tool limits the depth and applicability of the insights gained. 3) Under-leveraging the Insights from the Data: Organizations often fail to maximize the value of the data collected from assessments. The article shares tactics for overcoming these three challenges. Regarding challenge 1 (identifying specific, non-generic leadership capabilities), I am resharing my 2016 article, Identifying Leadership Capabilities that Drive Business Performance, to help organizations think through the specific leadership capabilities most relevant to their success and distinct strategy and culture.

WORKFORCE PLANNING

My one-page playlist of 5 resources addressing different aspects of SWP.

As HR leaders and their teams continue to prioritize strategic workforce planning (SWP), I've curated a one-page playlist featuring five SWP resources. Some resources include: Can You Answer These 6 Questions Related to Your Organization’s Strategic Workforce Planning?—my one-page slide posing six critical questions to guide SWP efforts. How to Leverage Data for More Influential Workforce Planning—a Gartner report outlining three steps to assess talent risks and use insights to inform SWP. Scenario Planning Worksheet for Workforce Planning—my one-page template to help organizations adapt their workforce plans to different scenarios. Talent Acquisition and Strategic Workforce Planning: A Powerful Partnership—a paper by The Conference Board discussing how enhanced collaboration between SWP and talent acquisition teams can close gaps in workforce planning. You can also check out the recently released book from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Professional Practice Series, Strategic Workforce Planning: Best Practices and Emerging Directions, which features 16 chapters on SWP. I’m honored to have authored one of the chapters!

PEOPLE ANALYTICS AND METRICS

A 16-page paper listing 100 questions across 9 categories that organizations can use to assess and measure their most important talent issues.

HR leaders and their teams continue to refine their 2024 priorities and underlying metrics and measures. However, a few challenges that arise when selecting the most effective measures include 1) Just selecting measures that are obvious and basic, 2) Only selecting measures that are currently available3) Treating all measures of equal importance and, as a result, having too many measures (information overload), 4) No clear line of sight between the talent metrics and execution of business strategy5) Selecting metrics without starting with the question the organization is trying to answer. To help HR teams overcome this challenge, this 16-page reference includes 100 questions to help HR teams decide which few vital questions are most important to their organizations. It provides criteria for selecting key performance indicators (KPIs) that can show progress toward addressing these questions. The questions span nine talent categories. A few include: recruiting, onboarding, employee experience, compensation and benefits, mobility, career development, and more. This resource is invaluable for HR teams aiming to start with the essential questions and then determine the core talent metrics and measures that matter most to their organizations.

DATA AND ANALYTICS

Shares how ONA can be used to understand aspects of organizational performance and productivity.

This new article shares ideas on how Organization Network Analysis (ONA) can help leaders understand aspects of organizational performance and productivity and use the resulting insights to inform workplace strategies. ONA uses network science to visualize and analyze organizational communication flows, uncovering hidden patterns of collaboration, decision-making, and influence that traditional organizational charts don’t depict. While quantifiable key performance indicators are useful for understanding workforce performance, they don’t capture the complete picture; ONA helps fill in the gaps. The table (illustrated in this post) shows how ONA can help leaders understand aspects of performance and productivity, ranging from the percentage of workers in long meetings weekly to the percentage of time spent on administrative tasks. Additionally, although not directly referenced in the article, ONA can potentially help organizations identify "hidden" high-potentials—informal leaders with significant influence who are often undetected through other high-potential assessment methods. As a bonus, I am resharing this MIT Sloan Management Review article that shows how ONA is being used to inform return-to-office strategies.

III. CULTURE AND WAYS OF WORKING

Eliminating lower value work, “covering cultures,” return-to-office (RTO) strategy, hybrid work, and reframing the RTO conversation.

ORGANIZATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS

My worksheet to help teams identify opportunities to enable workforce capacity by eliminating unnecessary work, improving processes, etc.

Leaders continuously seek ways to boost organizational capacity to execute business priorities more efficiently and effectively. While acquiring more people (e.g., employees, contractors, etc.) is one way to increase workforce capacity, another way is to unlock capacity through improved ways of working. According to Mercer’s 2024 Global Talent Trends report, many workers report barriers to productivity at work, including being bogged down with lower-value work, frequent interruptions, insufficient thinking time, and too many meetings. Although these productivity barriers may seem insignificant by themselves, they collectively stifle an organization’s efficiency and undermine a high-performing culture. For instance, AT&T's Project Raindrop Initiative identified numerous opportunities to streamline work processes. A "raindrop" is described as an outdated policy, a redundant process, or an unhelpful tool—anything that impedes progress. While one or two of these issues might be manageable, their cumulative effect can overwhelm employees and waste time, energy, and money. Addressing these issues has saved AT&T 3.6 million hours and avoided over $230 million in costs over the past three and a half years. Here is my simple worksheet that can help jumpstart conversations for identifying opportunities for improving ways of working and unlocking workforce capacity. Could this be a discussion topic for your next team meeting?

CULTURE AND WELLBEING

Discusses how a "covering culture"—where employees feel pressured to downplay their identities to fit in—can undermine well-being and performance.

This new article discusses how a "covering culture"—where employees feel pressured to downplay their identities (such as race, gender, or sexual orientation) to fit in—can undermine well-being, performance, and productivity. In the US alone, 60% of surveyed workers reported feeling this pressure, with 74% experiencing negative impacts and 60% reporting reduced well-being; the impact is more pronounced for nondominant groups. The article proposes strategies for leaders to address the underlying cultural issues that lead to covering. Additionally, this supplemental 29-page report, Uncovering Culture, dives deeper into the topic. Page 3 includes 12 examples of ways survey respondents report “covering," such as Education: “I try to avoid conversations about education because I'm the only person I work with who doesn't have at least one degree.” Caregiver status (dependent adult or child). “I've covered the fact that I'm a working parent at work ... having to spend mindshare on kids (and parents as a caregiver), might give the impression I'm not fully committed to the work at the office. I don't want to miss out on promotions or a chance to lead, so I downplay my roles at home.” Is your organization’s employee listening channels tapping into aspects of a “covering culture?”

RETURN-TO-OFFICE

Shares ideas for making decisions on RTO, including how Scotiabank used data-driven insights to inform its RTO decisions.

As leaders continue to make RTO decisions for their organizations, this Gartner article provides a few ideas to consider. One part highlights how Scotiabank used data-driven insights to determine which work activities are best performed in person or remotely. Based on various assessments and employee feedback, Scotiabank aligns employee roles with five hybrid personas (shown in the post image) based on the role split of "We Care" (on-site) or "You Decide" (flexible) work activities. This approach has helped the company increase office visits by 300% without negatively impacting employee engagement. To supplement this article, I am resharing the Microsoft WorkLab article, In the Changing Role of The Office, It’s All About Moments that Matter. This article underscores the significance of setting “in-person” office expectations based on “moments that matter” rather than enforcing a minimum number of office days. Ultimately, there is no “one size fits all” regarding RTO. Nonetheless, the ideas shared in these resources can help leaders consider various options to determine what works best for their organizations.

HYBRID WORK

A new study by Nicholas Bloom and his colleagues on the impact of hybrid work schedules on turnover, job satisfaction, and performance.

This new study by Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom and colleagues investigated the impact of hybrid work schedules on turnover, job satisfaction, and performance through a six-month randomized controlled trial involving 1,612 employees at a tech firm in China. The trial compared two groups: 1) one working from home two days a week and in the office three days, and 2) another working full-time in the office. Key findings reveal a significant reduction in turnover rates (by one-third) and enhanced job satisfaction among employees on hybrid schedules, with no detrimental effect on their performance compared to those exclusively in the office. I am also resharing: 1) A study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh that showed no significant changes in S&P 500 firms’ financial performance or stock market value post-RTO mandates but identified a decline in employee satisfaction. 2) Research from the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California shows a 10% increase in work-from-home opportunities corresponds with a 0.78 percentage point (or 0.94%) increase in mothers’ employment relative to other women. Empirical research studies like these can contribute to more informed decision-making that reduces reliance on trends, biases, and anecdotal information.

RETURN-TO-OFFICE

Amy C. Edmondson and Mark Mortensen address the importance of “framing”—how an issue is presented— when holding RTO conversations with workers.

I recently shared an update on how 14 organizations have modified their return-to-office (RTO) mandates. These updates include increasing the number of required in-office days, restricting specific days for remote work, and incorporating workers’ compliance with RTO mandates into performance reviews, to name a few. Organizations have communicated their RTO announcements in various ways, with varying degrees of effectiveness. A new HBR article by Amy C. Edmondson and Mark Mortensen discusses the importance of “framing” when communicating RTO. “Framing refers to how an issue is presented; it’s the meaning layered onto an issue or situation that shapes how people think about its objective facts. More precisely, it’s about re-framing: deliberately replacing taken-for-granted cognitive frames with more helpful ones.” The article shares three steps for how leaders can reframe their narratives as they create and communicate flexible work policies. One step is approaching the RTO process as data-driven, co-created, iterative learning. With this as the backdrop, I am resharing a white paper and 2) a PDF presentation by Cisco, which describes the company's data-driven approach to inform, communicate, and evolve their decisions on RTO and hybrid work.

JOB CUTS AND LAYOFF 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.

Partial view of tracker

A few firms that announced job cuts in June include:

  • Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA). The biotech firm specializing in cell programming and biosecurity said it would layoff more than one-third of its workers as it slashes costs in the face of plunging revenues.

  • Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). Is cutting around 1,000 employees, including departments working on HoloLens 2 and Azure ‘moonshots’. This round of layoffs comes more than a year after Microsoft laid off more than 10,000 people.

  • Onsemi (NASDAQ: ON). The semiconductor company has announced plans to cut ~1,000 jobs. The job cuts are due to the slowing demand for electric vehicles (EVs), where the company’s chips assist drivers in EV drive trains.

  • Siemens Energy (OTCMKTS: SMEGF). The energy technology company has announced plans to cut 4,100 jobs from its wind turbine unit, or about 15% of its workforce. The organizational changes come amid dulled activity and lower business volume.

  • Takeda (NYSE: TAK). Just a few weeks after the Japanese drugmaker announced it planned to let go of 641 Massachusetts employees, the company expects to cut 189 more positions in Cambridge, as well as 31 positions in Lexington. The company said these additional layoffs will begin in late August 2024 and end in March 2025.

CHIEF HR OFFICER MOVEMENT

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

  • Accenture (DUBLIN, IRELAND) [NYSE: ACN]—a leading global professional services company—announced that Angela Beatty, Global Lead, Talent, Rewards, and Employee Experience, will become Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer on September 1, 2024. She succeeds Ellyn Shook, who is retiring after 36 years of service with Accenture.

  • Domino's Pizza Inc. (ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN) [NYSE: DPZ]— the largest pizza company in the world— announced the appointment of Maureen Pittenger as EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer. She joins Domino's from Dana Inc., where she most recently served as the company’s SVP, CHRO since 2022.

  • JetBlue (NEW YORK) [NASDAQ: JBLU]—a leading carrier—announced the appointment of Tracy Lawlor as Chief People Officer, effective immediately. Lawlor, with JetBlue for nearly 23 years, has been acting Chief People Officer since March 2024. Lawlor previously served as JetBlue's Chief Strategy and Integration Officer.

  • TruGreen (MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE)— the nation's leading lawn care provider— announced the appointment of Christine Belknap as Chief Human Resources Officer, effective July 15. Christine most recently served as Vice President of Talent, Leadership Development, and DEI for the Nashville-based retailer, Tractor Supply Company.

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