Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #223

Return-to-office updates from 7 organizations, Chief HR Officers, skill-based organizations, employee turnover, and a study on the impact of virtual meetings.


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Below is a glance at this week’s content. A deep dive follows. 

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

Let’s dive in. ⬇️



I share a one-page snapshot of a segment of organizations that have made updates to 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 of the sources 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.


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.


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). The majority 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 will need to make this determination for their organizations on an individual basis, and Marc’s report can help critically evaluate and make informed decisions on this important topic.


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 only 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.


Covers research findings on the impact of virtual meetings on cognitive performance.

As workers utilize various video chat platforms (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) to connect virtually with colleagues, I’ve shared research studies analyzing the effects of this communication channel on various outcomes, such as the energy levels of meeting participants and feelings of burnout. One study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology titled The Fatiguing Effects of Camera Use in Virtual Meetings: A Within-Person Field Experiment, explored how camera usage during virtual meetings contributes to fatigue. Results show: 1) when people had cameras on or were asked to keep cameras on, they reported more fatigue than their non-camera-using counterparts. 2) The effects of fatigue were more substantial for women and employees newer to the organization. This study challenges conventional thinking that suggests cameras heighten engagement levels in virtual meetings. In a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, findings suggest that sleepiness during virtual meetings is caused by mental underload and boredom (rather than mental overload), resulting in a decline in cognitive performance. These and other studies can be used to guide practices on when the use of virtual meetings is optimal and when they are not.


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



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 template can also be used for non-HR functions.


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

Partial view of tracker on brianheger.com

A few job cuts announced this past week:

  • 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.

  • Hershey (NYSE: HSY). Announced a new two-year restructuring program that would 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.

  • SiriusXM (NASDAQ: SIRI). Eleven months after SiriusXM cut 8% of its workforce, the satellite radio company announced that it would eliminate another 3% of its staff. The layoffs will impact about 170 jobs.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


Petco Health and Wellness Company, Inc. (SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA) [NASDAQ: WOOF]—a category-defining health and wellness company focused on improving the lives of pets, pet parents and Petco partners—announced it has appointed Holly May as Chief Human Resources Officer, effective February 4. Prior to joining Petco, May served as EVP & Global Chief Human Resources Officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance. Previously, she held executive leadership roles at Starbucks, Abercrombie & Fitch, Visa and more. ​​​

Holly May

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This 16-page reference includes 100 questions to help organizations think critically about various questions regarding their workforce. It provides criteria for selecting key performance indicators (KPIs) that can show progress toward addressing these questions. The questions span nine talent categories, ranging from recruiting and onboarding to employee experience.


Did you miss the “Best of January” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #220, which includes 18 of the most popular resources from the month. You can also access this issue on LinkedIn and share it with others.


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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. You can connect with Brian on Linkedin, X, and brianheger.com