Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #139

This issue covers boomerang employees, internal mobility, increasing HR business partner impact, using assignments to assess candidates, and addressing toxic cultures.

Welcome to this week’s issue of Talent Edge Weeklythe weekly newsletter for human resources practitioners, bringing together insights about work, the workplace, and the workforce from various sources.

If you find value in this issue or any of its resources, please share them with your network by using the social media icons at the top of the newsletter.

Have a great week, and I look forward to sharing more ideas in next week’s Edge!


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


  • Boomerang Employees Make a Comeback: A Data-based Approach to Rehiring Top Talent | Visier | Provides a few data-based insights to inform the re-recruitment of former top talent employees.

  • 6 Resources for Enabling Internal Mobility | Multiple Resources | A one-page PDF that includes links to 6 resources to help unlock internal mobility.

  • How to Identify and Overcome Barriers to Strategic HRBP Impact | Gartner | Offers 5 questions Chief Human Resources Officers can ask to determine what barriers prevent HRBPs from reaching their full strategic potential.

  • When Hiring, Prioritize Assignments Over Interviews | Harvard Business Review | Shares how organizations should give candidates— who make it past an initial screening— a small assignment to demonstrate the primary skills the job requires rather than over-rely on interviews.

  • How to Fix a Toxic Culture | MIT Sloan Management Review | An in-depth article that shares research on three critical drivers leaders should focus on to address toxicity in the workplace. I share two bonus articles on culture.


As many organizations continue to face challenges in hiring top talent, it’s essential for talent acquisition (TA) professionals to help their organizations identify and source from untapped talent pools. One overlooked talent pool is former employees—often called boomerang employees—who have the skills their former organization values, and a desire to return to their previous employer. And with many TA practitioners relying increasingly on data to inform their strategies and tactics, this paper provides data-based insights for rehiring former top talent employees. One insight is that the average time away for employees resigning from and returning to their previous employer is 13 months. And while it can take up to 36 months or longer before a former employee is rehired, the chances of them returning drop sharply after they have been away for 16 months. These data points suggest that 13 to 16 months is a critical time frame for rehiring former employees. Given that more than a quarter of boomerang employees were rated high performers when they left their organizations, TA teams can identify former top-performing employees within the critical rehire timeframe and re-recruit them. Since it’s important to cultivate relationships with these former employees to make it easier for them to return to the organization, I am resharing this bonus HBR article, Leave the Door Open for Employees to Return to Your Organization, that includes several practices.

One finding from the new 27-page Microsoft Work Trend Index Pulse report (which I shared last week) is that 55 percent of employees say changing companies is the best way to develop their skills. These employees also say they would stay longer at their company if it were easier to change jobs internally (68%) or if they could benefit more from learning and career development support (76%). As internal mobilitythe movement of employees across different roles and opportunities (e.g., projects assignments, etc.) within an organization — becomes a more prominent component of a firm’s talent strategy, I have created this one-page PDF that includes six resources from which they can draw. While the one-page document provides a convenient reference for accessing each of the resources, you can also access the resources here through their direct links. They include: 1) How to Make the Internal Labor Market More Equitable | Gartner, 2) Activating the Internal Talent Marketplace | Deloitte Insights, 3) Let Your Top Performers Move Around the Company | HBR, 4) Stop Offering Career Ladders. Start Offering Career Portfolios | HBR, 5)What Stops Employees From Applying for Internal Roles | HBR, 6) Book: The Inside Gig: How Sharing Untapped Talent Across Boundaries Unleashes Organizational Capacity | Edie Goldberg & Kelley Steven-Waiss. I hope you find these resources helpful as you unlock the potential of internal mobility in your organizations.


The Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) plays a vital role in the HR function and is one that many business leaders rely on and value. Although the HRBP role has become increasingly strategic in many organizations, barriers prevent HRBPs from reaching their full strategic potential. And while CHROs might cite the burden of operational work as the most significant barrier, this Gartner article suggests that, regardless of the HR operating model and organizational structure, three key barriers hinder HRBPs from maximizing their strategic impact: 1) HRBPs’ interests, skills, or role expectations are unclear or misaligned, 2) Tactical or operational work takes precedence over strategic initiatives, and 3) HR and business unit leaders are misaligned. As CHROs help pinpoint which barriers may detract from an HRBP’s strategic impact, there are five questions they can ask. Figure 1. shows a flowchart for asking these questions sequentially to inform the most relevant action and solution. The first question is: Does the HRBP have an interest in strategic or operational work? If an HRBP does not enjoy the strategic aspects of the role and prefers operational work, it would lead to a different follow-up question on the flowchart than it would for an HRBP that prefers the strategic components. With many CHROs having one of their performance or career check-in discussions with each HRBP direct report around this time of the year, these five questions might spark insights for that discussion.


While undergoing graduate work in industrial and organizational psychology, I learned in one of my first courses on Selection that the interview is generally the most widely used assessment tool but the most invalid. The reasons this is the case range from a) interviewer biases that permeate the assessment process, b) job candidates who are adept at interviewing effectively but don’t have the skills to perform the job at a high level, c) or conversely, job candidates who have the skills and experience to be a top performer but don't perform well on interviews; many other factors can undermine the validity and reliability of "the interview." This article argues that rather than over-rely on interviews when hiring, organizations should try giving candidates who make it past an initial screening a small assignment to demonstrate the primary skill the job requires. "Similar to how startups create a minimum viable product, or MVP, to test consumer demand for a concept before investing in building a polished version, recruiters could use a similar tactic (e.g., ask a coder to solve a small coding project)." While having candidates demonstrate their skills through a real assignment or simulated exercise is not new, it has increased relevance considering how organizations are trying to move more toward skills-based talent practices and away from legacy selection criteria, such as academic credentials or requiring a certain number of years of experience in a specific industry.

As noted in the MIT Sloan Management Review article, Why Every Executive Should Be Focusing on Culture Change Now, culture is defined as a shared set of values (what we care about), beliefs (what we believe to be true), and norms of behavior (how we do things). And while most executives recognize the impact of culture on various outcomes of interest, far fewer are making progress on improving it. To determine which cultural elements are most important to employees, the article 10 Things Your Corporate Culture Needs to Get Right published research last year that analyzed 1.4 million employee reviews on Glassdoor. Of 128 culture topics, the analysis identified five attributes of culture — disrespectful, noninclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive — that rendered a culture toxic in the eyes of employees. As a follow-up to that article, the authors just published this new article that looks at the best ways to address toxicity in the workplace. Their research shows three critical drivers organizations should focus on: 1) leadership, 2) social norms, and 3) work design. This in-depth article dives into each of these sections and provides several ideas. This topic of toxicity in the workplace is critical to address, particularly considering the unwanted attrition many organizations have faced, the focus on environmental social and governance (ESG) and fostering healthy work environments, and organizational efforts to promote respect and dignity for all employees. Each of the three articles provides several insights on actions leaders can take to improve aspects of company culture.



A new and in-depth article that provides several ideas for operationalizing skills-based talent practices. You can also view this post on LinkedIn and join the conversation and/or share with your network!



This past week there were 34 Chief Human Resources announcements posted on CHROs on the Go a subscription that provides the easiest way to stay informed about hires, promotions, and resignations in the CHRO role. This week's CHRO highlight is:

  • SPANX, LLC. (ATLANTA )—the mission-driven womenswear brand founded by Sara Blakely—named Coco Lu as Chief People Officer overseeing all talent and human resource functions at the company. READ MORE

To learn how to gain access to all 20 detailed Chief Human Resources Officer announcements from this past week and +1600 archived announcements, visit CHROs on the Go .

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



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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 6PM EST.