Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #229

Return-to-office, recruiting older workers, a playlist of 5 workplace reports from Q124, driving change through small wins, and how HR can enable an AI-empowered culture.


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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. ⬇️



Shares why leaders should focus on employee outcomes and accountability rather than in-office appearances.

Organizations continue to announce updates to their return-to-office (RTO) mandates, addressing various aspects such as 1) increasing the number of required in-office days (e.g., UPS’s corporate employees recently shifted from a 3-day to 5-day in-office schedule), 2) restricting specific days to work remotely (e.g., Deutsche Bank announced that workers are no longer able to work from home on Fridays and Mondays), 3) impact of RTO adherence on performance (e.g., US Bank informed its workers that their adherence to a 3-days in-office mandate will now be factored into their performance evaluation), and 4) impact of RTO on promotion opportunities and internal mobility (e.g., Dell informed workers that they can stay fully remote, but that fully remote workers will not be considered for promotions or be able to change roles unless they reclassify as "hybrid onsite." I’ve shared other recent examples of RTO mandates, many of which cite productivity as the reason behind mandates despite growing research that mandates don’t improve financial performance. This new MIT Sloan article addresses why too many organizational cultures use face time at the office as their metric for productivity. It makes the case for focusing on outcomes while providing trust and flexibility about where and when to get work done, allowing individuals and organizations to thrive. With this as the backdrop, I am resharing a recent study by Cisco, where the company used a data-driven approach to understand how the company could provide flexible work arrangements while ensuring accountability and productivity.


Provides strategies for recruiting older workers who are willing to work during “retirement.”

Many organizations continue to struggle to find workers to meet organizational talent needs. However, there is a massive group of ‘hidden workers’—those with the desire and skills to make invaluable contributions to organizations— that often get overlooked for work opportunities. This new HBR article addresses one of those segments: older workers. It notes that many older individuals are willing to continue working, with nearly 60% receptive to working during the traditional retirement age. However, to tap into this talent pool, many employers must first dispel misconceptions about older workers that often prevent them from being hired, such as "older people don't learn as fast or struggle with new technology." The article shares various strategies to tap into this talent pool, including phased retirement programs, refresher courses, and recruitment through retiree networks. As a bonus resource, I am resharing this 17-page paper by the Burning Glass Institute and AARP, A Playbook for the Inclusive Hiring of Later-Career Workers. It addresses solutions to current recruiting and screening practices that often disadvantage older workers, including age-biased language in job descriptions, such as ‘digital native,’ ‘recent graduate, or ‘maximum years of experience,’ which can exclude many qualified older workers from consideration.


My one-page playlist of five workplace reports that were published in Q124.

As I continue to receive requests for various talent and workplace reports, I have created this one-page playlist of five reports published in Q124. This PDF includes hyperlinks to each report and a summary of its contents. A few of the reports and select highlights include the 2024 Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report, which found that employees cited “too much busy work—tasks that lack value” and “too many interruptions/not enough thinking time” as factors hindering productivity at work. The 2024 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report includes a section on microcultures, beginning on page 79, emphasizing that organizations should embrace a “culture of cultures” rather than pursue a singular common culture. This approach tailors cultures to the unique needs of local teams while aligning with overarching organizational values. The 2024 Korn Ferry Talent Acquisition Trends Report highlights six trends in talent acquisition for 2024, one of which is the intersection of AI and recruiters, with AI streamlining time-consuming recruiting tasks, such as assessments and scheduling. This practice enables recruiters to prioritize the candidate experience, relationship management, and innovative talent sourcing. Other sources include LinkedIn's 2024 Workplace Learning report and the World Economic Forum’s report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


AT&T’s CTO shares how addressing seemingly minor frustrations with tools, processes, and systems can have a significant impact on ways of working and organizational outcomes.

This new article by Jeremy Legg, Chief Technology Officer for AT&T, has several insights that can prompt leaders and organizations to identify small opportunities—that, when addressed collectively—can have a significant impact on ways of working and organizational outcomes. Jeremy discusses how AT&T embarked on ‘Project Raindrop’ due to an annual employee survey that revealed employees’ frustration with the company’s tools, processes, and systems. The raindrop metaphor is described as follows: A raindrop is an annoying policy, an outdated process, or a tool that’s no longer useful — anything that hinders rather than helps you and your organization move forward. One or two of these may be tedious but bearable; pool enough of them, however, and a day at work can make people feel as if they’re drowning in bureaucracy. Every raindrop wastes time, energy, and/or money. Fixing or getting rid of such raindrops has saved AT&T 3.6 million hours over the past three and a half years and helped the company avoid more than $230 million in costs. Jeremy shares three ways organizations might be able to replicate AT&T’s process, which is informal, driven by employees, and supported by leadership. One question to ask at your next team meeting: What are the ‘raindrops’ in our direct control that can help solve and address larger organizational issues?


A 20-page paper on how HR can facilitate an AI-empowered culture. Includes 10 ‘calls to action.’

This new report identifies 10 “calls to action” (CTAs) for how human resources practitioners can help their organizations pivot to an AI-driven culture. The CTAs range from collaborating on AI strategies that foster a culture of responsible AI to helping managers serve as ambassadors for change. As HR leaders and their teams identify opportunities for implementing various CTAs, I am resharing three other resources for integrating AI into the workplace. An Oliver Wyman Forum analysis showing how GenAI’s impact on productivity is likely to occur in three phases: Individual Benefit (Time horizon: 1 year; Productivity Benefit: Low), Scaling Up (Time horizon: 1-5 yrs; Productivity Benefit: Medium), and Workplace Maturity (Time horizon: 6-10 yrs; Productivity Benefit: High. A Deloitte AI Institute report, which includes a framework for determining which work tasks are best performed by a) AI, b) humans with the help of AI, and c) humans by themselves. An Accenture report, which includes a framework for categorizing four types of impacts that AI can have on jobs and work tasks.


Do you want the easiest way to stay informed about who is moving in and out of the Chief HR Officer role? Access +3600 (and growing) CHRO announcements. Join my CHROs on the Go subscription today!



CIPD has introduced a new one-page flowchart designed to facilitate a critical assessment of a role's suitability for hybrid work. It helps to identify whether a role might mostly fit one of three scenarios. 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:

  • NextCure (NASDAQ: NXTC). The cancer immunotherapy developer is laying off 37% of its staff and streamlining its research plans. The layoffs will primarily affect drug manufacturing roles, but will impact other parts of the organization as well, including research and development.

  • Stellantis (NYSE: STLA). The automotive manufacturing company will lay off 400 white-collar workers effective March 31. The affected employees work in the tech, software, and engineering fields. The layoffs represent 2% of the workforce in those areas for Stellantis. The company also conducted another round of layoffs in January 2024.

  • Unilever. (NYSE: UL). The consumer goods giant said it would cut 7,500 jobs and spin off its ice cream unit, which includes Ben & Jerry’s, to reduce costs and simplify its portfolio of brands.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


​​​​David Yurman (NEW YORK)—the Luxury jewelry brand— has named Robert Lepere Chief People Officer, leading all aspects of the company’s People & Culture group, including talent acquisition, learning & development, and HR operations. Lepere joins the brand with over 25 years of experience in retail HR. Most recently, he served as Chief People Officer at Casper and Fullbeauty Brands, and held leadership roles at Ascena Retail Group and Gap, Inc.

Robert Lepere

If you want access to +3600 (and growing) detailed announcements of CHROs hired, promoted, and resigning, join CHROs on the Go—a one-stop-shop for knowing who is moving in and out of the Chief HR Officer role.

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This article explores three ways organizations support managers in developing performance management (PM) capabilities. One case study includes SABIC— a chemical manufacturer that integrates sensitive topics like wellbeing and burnout into PM to nurture psychological safety in feedback. 


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