Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #219

2024 work trends, talent planning worksheets, diversity equity inclusion practices, study on return-to-office mandates, and organizational transformation.


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Everyone is talking about skills. But what does it mean?

Fewer than 1 in 5 companies have started the journey to becoming a skill-based organization. Even as business and HR leaders recognize the strategic importance of skills, many find themselves not knowing where to begin amid information overload and feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of the work ahead.

Our latest guide aims to help you cut through the noise and the buzzwords with just three practical tips, enabling you to kickstart your journey towards a skill-based approach.

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Here’s a glance at this week’s content. A deep dive is in the section that follows.

Also, check out the job cuts tracker & Chief HR Officer hire of the week.

Let’s dive in. ⬇️



This new article, authored by researchers from Gartner, offers insights into nine trends shaping work in 2024 and beyond. These trends encompass familiar topics such as AI in the workplace, the 4-day workweek, and the ascendancy of hiring for skills over credentials, such as academic degrees. They also cover less-discussed topics such as trend 9: Traditional stereotypes of career paths will collapse in face of workforce change. This trend highlights the imperative for organizations to dismantle barriers and challenge stereotypes associated with the employability of various workforce segments, such as individuals who had a career break and are reentering the workforce (e.g., caregivers who took time off). The authors reference organizations, such as United Technologies, Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson, offering returnships or rotational programs for caregivers reentering the workforce. I also believe one untapped talent acquisition strategy is recruiting back former employees who have the skills their former organization values and a desire to return to their previous employer. With this in mind, I am resharing the HBR article, Leave the Door Open for Employees to Return to Your Organization, which includes tactics for recruiting back former employees.


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, and this set of worksheets is just one tool that might prove effective. Feel free to use it if you feel it can support your efforts.


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).


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 these 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 like employee turnover and talent attraction challenges. In line with this, I am resharing my post that references two studies involving Nick Bloom, a Professor of Economics at Stanford University who has been researching work from home for over 20 years, revealing how managers tend to underestimate the performance of remote workers.


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.


In this guide, we offer 5 common considerations many companies will want to take into account when building standards for employee usage of Gen AI. Download guide!

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I share my new one-page template for identifying critical roles based on the extent to which they enable an organization’s strategic capabilities. The editable template allows an organization to list 4 to 5 strategic capabilities vital to its business strategy and evaluate roles against them.


Partial view of tracker on brianheger.com

Check out my tracker of announcements from a segment of organizations that have conducted job cuts and layoffs since the start of 2023.

A few firms announcing job cuts this past week include:

  • eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY). The online retailer will cut about 1,000 roles or an estimated 9% of its current workforce. In addition to the job cuts, the company will scale back the number of contracts within its “alternative workforce.”

  • Levi Strauss (NYSE:LEVI). The clothing company will lay off between 10% and 15% of corporate employees as part of the company’s plan to reduce operating costs. These layoffs are set to take place in the first half of 2024.

  • Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). Announced plans to lay off 1,900 workers within its video game division, or around 9% of headcount, including Activision Blizzard, which it acquired at the end of late last year.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


​​Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HOUSTON, TEXAS) [NYSE: HPE]— the global edge-to-cloud company—has named Kristin Major as Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, effective February 1, 2024, reporting to President and CEO Antonio Neri. Major has been with HPE since 2011, most recently serving as Chief Talent Officer. Major succeeds Alan May, who held the CPO role since joining the company in 2015.

Kristin Major

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Organizations are rapidly integrating AI tools into their hiring and employment strategies to better match candidates with appropriate roles and streamline decisions in recruitment, hiring, and career progression. However, these tools carry inherent risks that, if unaddressed, could adversely affect job candidates and hiring organizations. This 18-page report outlines best practices for the development, implementation, or expansion of AI tools in employment decisions.


Did you miss the “Best of December” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #215, which includes 13 of the most popular resources from December.


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

Talent Edge Weekly is written by Brian Heger, an internal human resources practitioner with a Fortune 150 organization. You can connect with Brian on Linkedin, X, and brianheger.com