Talent Edge Weekly - Issue #233

Scenario planning in workforce planning, re-recruiting former employees, HR effectiveness, high-potential employee identification, and reduced stigma of career breaks.


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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. ⬇️



My one-page worksheet for thinking through workforce planning responses to different scenarios.

Does your organization's strategic workforce planning (SWP) consider different scenarios? While SWP for one scenario is challenging enough to execute, preparing for multiple scenarios through SP can enable organizations to respond more effectively when situations change. And although SP has varying levels of sophistication, simply discussing scenarios and responses can be a good start. This worksheet can guide discussions that help answer: 1) Base Scenario. What scenario will likely occur? (e.g., FDA approval of drug X). What are the key elements of the workforce plan for this scenario? (e.g., a 19% increase in sales reps in regions A, C, & F). 2) Alternative Scenarios. What are two other possible scenarios? 3) Triggers. What indicators (e.g., economic shifts, increased competition, etc.) would serve as a signal that the alternate scenario is more likely to occur? 4) Action. If an alternate scenario occurs, how will our workforce plan change? There is more to SP than outlined here. Start with this information and evolve as you go. Lastly, business scenarios should come from an organization’s strategic business planning process (and the business team responsible for this work) to ensure workforce plans are based on realistic scenarios.


I share reasons why recruiting former employees can help organizations meet their talent needs. Includes my template to support this effort.

Many organizations seek ways to identify and recruit from untapped talent pools to gain a talent advantage. However, one talent segment that is often underutilized is former employees, sometimes referred to as ‘boomerang employees.’ While not all former employees should be re-recruited, some may desire to return to their previous organization, bringing with them in-demand skills. These individuals can also offer organizations a performance advantage upon rehire. A study published in the Academy of Management Journal revealed that former employees often outperform new hires, especially in roles requiring strong relational skills and internal coordination. And there may be an optimal timeframe for re-recruiting former employees. A Visier analysis of 3 million employee records across 120 organizations over a four-year period discovered that the average time away for employees resigning from and returning to their previous employer is 13 months. The likelihood of a former employee returning sharply declines after being away for 16 months. These data points suggest that the critical time frame for rehiring former employees falls between 13 to 16 months. Does your organization have a strategy to identify and re-recruit former employees? Use my template to begin to identify employees you may want to target for re-recruitment.


A new article by Peter Cappelli and Ranya Nehmeh on how HR can show leaders the true costs of outdated workplace policies, practices, and mindsets.

This article by Peter Cappelli and Ranya Nehmeh discusses how HR can play a critical role in showing leaders the true costs and impact of outdated workplace policies, practices, and mindsets. They highlight several topics, including employee retention, underscoring HR's role in helping leaders understand the “real costs” of employee turnover and the reasons behind employee departures. Challenging the commonly cited turnover cost statistic of $4,000 per employee, the authors contend that this figure does not capture other substantial costs, such as new hire training, the diminished initial performance of new hires, and the time investment of existing staff in the hiring process. The referenced Neiman Marcus case study underscores how uncovering full turnover costs can create urgency for making talent investments. Neiman's Chief People Officer, Eric Severson, presented top management with turnover costs and retention benefits data, leveraging marketing tools to determine what drove turnover and successful hiring at the company. Based on the findings, the company implemented a generous paid parental and family leave policy for all associates, positively impacting retention in a predominantly female workforce. As HR teams consider what data they might use to help leaders better understand aspects of the workplace and workforce, I am resharing this 16-page SAP reference, which includes 100 people analytics questions spanning nine categories.


My one-page cheat sheet of five resources that inform aspects of high-potential identification.

Many organizations conduct a talent review process, where one of the goals is to accurately identify and develop employees with the greatest leadership potential. However, this task can be challenging due to the lack of objective criteria for determining potential. In response to numerous inquiries on this topic, I've compiled an updated one-page playlist featuring five resources from thought leaders Allan Church, Rob Silzer, and Marc Effron. Each resource is accompanied by a direct link and a sample point extracted from the article or resource. Sample questions explored in these resources include: 1) What are the indicators of potential? 2) Should we change how we define and measure potential to align with the changing nature of work and the workplace? 3) Are there different types of potential? 4) What are examples of how high-potential employees can go undetected? 5) Is there an optimal “number of boxes” that should be used during a talent review to categorize performance/potential? For example, Marc Effron points to scientific research on how the core components of potential, such as intellect and personality, still have the same power to predict potential; intellect accounts for 35 to 45%, and personality covers up to 25% of variances in potential. Other research-backed ideas are discussed across these five resources.


Addresses the diminishing stigma attached to career breaks and gaps in work history.

The article delves into the changing perceptions and practices surrounding career breaks and re-entering the workforce. Once stigmatized, career breaks are now being viewed with more empathy, with platforms like LinkedIn incorporating features to showcase them positively. Additionally, several major employers, including Chevron, Intel, Dell, Wells Fargo, Amazon, IBM, and PepsiCo, have implemented returnship programs to offer paid opportunities for skill enhancement and reintegration into the workforce. According to the article, this shift in attitude particularly benefits women and minority groups, who are often more likely to take career breaks frequently due to caregiving responsibilities. ‘Women are nearly twice as likely as men to take a career break, citing reasons such as full-time parenting, health and wellness, caregiving, and professional development.’ The article highlights specific company practices, such as Chevron's "Welcome Back Returnship Program," which assists experienced professionals in re-entering the workforce after a career break. The program offers a 12-week paid "returnship" with learning components and mentoring, and the possibility of full-time employment and benefits upon completion. Other company examples are provided, including IBM and PepsiCo.



Strategic workforce planning (SWP) remains a priority for many organizations, yet practitioners still struggle to implement it effectively. One reason for this challenge is the overwhelming nature of deciding where to begin. In such instances, simple frameworks can provide invaluable guidance. Here is my one-page visual that comprises six key questions to steer SWP efforts.


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:

  • Checkr. The background screening platform company, last valued at $5B, will reduce its workforce by 32%, or 382 employees.

  • Novartis (NYSE: NVS). The Swiss pharmaceutical company has announced plans for a broader restructuring initiative that may see approximately 8,000 positions eliminated from Novartis’s global workforce of 78,000 employees over the next two to three years.

  • Thermo Fisher (NYSE: TMO). Starting May 31, 2024, the company will cut 74 jobs at its California plasmid manufacturing location. The layoffs are part of the company’s efforts to adjust staffing levels at the plant.

Click here to access all listed announcements.


GXO Logistics, Inc. (GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT) [NYSE: GXO]— the world’s largest pure-play contract logistics provider— announced the appointment of Corinna Refsgaard as Chief Human Resources Officer. Previously, Refsgaard served as Group Chief People and Culture Officer at ISS, one of the world’s leading workplace experience and facility management companies.  Refsgaard’s experience also includes HR roles at firms, including Kontron, Fujitsu Technology Solutions, EADS, and Mercedes-Benz. 

Corinna Refsgaard

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This article proposes a three-step approach to assist companies in better evaluating the “return on learning investment” (ROLI) of upskilling and reskilling. The suggested steps include: 1) Clearly define upfront the business outcomes or impact they intend to achieve; 2) establish metrics to hold the program accountable and measure progress; and 3) determine whether the desired impact has been realized. Exhibit 1 showcases various metrics for assessing the impact of learning programs.


Did you miss the “Best of March” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #230, which includes 15 of the most popular resources from the month.


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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