Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #226

Return-to-office updates, case study on hybrid work, strategic workforce planning, Gen AI use cases in HR, and identifying "hidden" talent.


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SKILLS /by TechWolf is not just another event; it's a gathering of forward-thinking HR leaders on their transformative journey toward a skill-based future.

Join over 100 HR professionals in New York City for an evening of networking and a panel discussion moderated by Dani Johnson, Co-founder and Principal Analyst at RedThread Research, with:

  • Diane Gherson, former CHRO of IBM

  • Nick Statler, Managing Director Talent Acquisition & Talent Management at United Airlines

  • Angela Le Mathon, VP People Data and Analytics at GSK

  • Dan Weiss, VP People Planning & Insight Consultants at MetLife

Learn how practitioners are operationalizing and enabling skill-based talent practices in their organizations!

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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 updates on a segment of organizations that have announced changes to their return-to-office guidance.

A few weeks ago, I shared my one-page cheat sheet of seven organizations that recently announced updates to their return-to-office (RTO) mandates. A few announcements included: Dell (requiring employees to work on-site for at least 39 days a quarter, regardless of their location), Deutsche Bank (workers are no longer able to work from home on Fridays and Mondays), and UPS (corporate employees will move from a three-day hybrid arrangement to a five-day in-office workweek starting March 4). I've expanded the document to encompass a total of eleven organizations, incorporating new additions such as US Bank, which has informed its workers that they must be in the office at least three days a week and that their adherence to the mandate will be factored into their performance evaluation. L’Oréal is requiring its 87,000 employees to be in the office two Fridays every month. This change is in addition to three other days workers must be in the office every week. Rockstar Games, the American video game publisher of games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ is mandating employees to return to the office five days a week starting in April due to productivity and security concerns. The document has links to the source articles, and I’ll continue updating it periodically with new information.


Cisco’s Chief People Officer, Kelly Jones, shares recommendations for unlocking the potential of hybrid work based on learnings from Cisco’s Future of Work Study.

This past week, Kelly Jones, Cisco’s Chief People Officer, shared highlights from Cisco’s Future of Work Study—a study based on three years of data from over 13,000 Cisco employees. The study aimed to understand various aspects of the employee experience, spanning from pre-pandemic times to the pandemic era, office reopening, and beyond. It assisted Cisco in addressing three crucial questions: 1) How can we support people’s well-being while ensuring productivity? 2) How do we provide the desired flexibility to individuals while maintaining accountability? 3) How can people work from any location, time zone, and still stay connected? The findings were distilled into five principles, which are shown in the image of this post. Two principles emphasize granting employees the flexibility to choose their work locations—whether remote or in the office—and establishing in-office requirements based on meaningful moments rather than a fixed number of days. As noted in the article, Cisco’s philosophy is thatthe office should be a magnet, not a mandate," urging periodic gatherings for specific reasons. When requiring employees to be in the office, “prioritize quality over quantity,” clearly communicating goals and emphasizing tasks better suited for the office environment. Aside from the new LinkedIn article, there is also a white paper and a PDF presentation. As a bonus, I am resharing Microsoft WorkLab's article on identifying the moments that matter most for in-person interactions.


Offers tactics for how workforce planning and talent acquisition professionals can partner to drive more effective workforce planning.

Strategic workforce planning (SWP) is a priority for many leaders, but its implementation poses challenges for numerous organizations. A recent 28-page report by BCG and WFPMA evaluating 32 HR and talent practices revealed that SWP ranks second out of 32 HR and talent practices with the most substantial gap between its importance and the organizations’ capability to execute it effectively. One opportunity for closing this gap is strengthening the collaboration and synergies between SWP and talent acquisition (TA) practitioners in organizations. As noted in this 15-page paper, TA is the HR function responsible for finding and hiring new workers, while SWP is the process that identifies the right mix of talent needed to achieve future organizational goals. While TA professionals have much to contribute to this process, surprisingly, they are not always included. It’s essential that TA play an active role in SWP so organizations can reap the benefits of this powerful partnership. One suggestion is providing TA with access to SWP data, which is often “guarded” and not accessible to TA—limiting their ability to contribute to SWP. Another suggestion is for Chief HR Officers to remove barriers to the structural integration of SWP and TA functions, such as aligning them under common leadership. The paper delves into other ideas, including a diagnostic (Figure 2) that helps organizations assess their SWP maturity and outline steps for progress.


Provides a framework for prioritizing 20 use cases for AI in HR. I share a bonus resource.

This Gartner article provides a framework for evaluating and prioritizing AI use cases in HR. Figure 1 details 20 AI in HR use cases, including job description generation and learning content generation, to name a few. These use cases are ranked based on two factors: 1) Business value (e.g., operational efficiency) and 2) Feasibility (e.g., organizational readiness). The strategic ranking of each use case provides an additional viewpoint to consider as decisions are made for prioritizing different use cases. Additionally, I'm resharing my editable PDF containing 10 AI in HR use cases, each accompanied by a concise statement of the use case, associated risk, and a practical recommendation for risk mitigation. Consider the example of Employee Onboarding, which entails automating administrative tasks and delivering personalized training. A conceivable risk involves decreased employee engagement due to a lack of human interaction. To address this, organizations can seamlessly integrate AI-driven onboarding with human touchpoints, ensuring a comprehensive and engaging onboarding experience. Each page and use case includes a text box to document your notes.


Discusses how Applicant Tracking Systems relying on algorithms can exclude potentially qualified candidates from job opportunities.

The article explores the hurdles organizations face in recruiting candidates for vacant positions, attributing some challenges to the limitations of their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These systems, designed for large-scale applicant management, may unintentionally exclude qualified individuals whose resumes don't precisely align with specific job description criteria. By often focusing on candidates within the standard bell curve, the ATS might miss individuals with unconventional resumes (backgrounds) who are capable of bringing significant value to a team. The article advocates for reintegrating human elements into the hiring process, urging managers to explore diverse talent pools and unconventional career paths. With this as the backdrop, I am resharing this Harvard Business School paper, How to Tap the Talent Automated HR Platforms Miss. The article provides a few ideas, such as updating recycled job descriptions and hiring criteria more regularly to reflect the essential skills and experiences required to succeed in a position, while eliminating superfluous “nice to have” or dated qualifications. Such adjustments could prevent competitive candidates from being prematurely eliminated from consideration.


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An editable template to identify and address 10 talent and workforce risks.

As HR leaders and their teams take a more expansive view of 10 talent and workforce risks that can pose threats to their organizations, this editable template can help teams facilitate a discussion on this topic. You can also view this post on LinkedIn and join the discussion!


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:

  • Bumble (NASDAQ: BMBL). The dating app company announced it will lay off 30% of its staff, which is around 350 employees.

  • Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA). The video game producer is laying off 5% of its workforce, impacting approximately 670 jobs.

  • Expedia Group (NASDAQ: EXPE). The travel company plans to cut 1,500 roles this year, more than 8% of its workforce.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


​​​Nielsen (NEW YORK) [NYSE: NLSN]— the global leader in audience measurement, data, and analytics, announced that Nicolina Marzicola will now serve as Nielsen’s Chief People Officer. Marzicola will report to Karthik Rao, Nielsen’s CEO. Ms. Marzicola was most recently the Global Head of HR, Commercial Organization and Global Head of HR Operations at HP.

Nicolina Marzicola

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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. This article shares several insights into how organizations can make their talent reviews more effective.


Did you miss the “Best of February” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #225, which includes 18 of the most popular resources from the month.


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brianheger.com provides free access to +1,300 curated articles, research reports, podcasts, and more that help practitioners drive better business results through strategic human resources and talent management.

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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