Talent Edge Weekly - Issue New #238

Critical roles, hybrid work policies, return-to-office, AI in the workplace, and "the meeting after the meeting."


Welcome to Talent Edge Weekly and to the 412 NEW readers who subscribed to the newsletter this past week!

A special shout-out to April Breeden, Global Director, Human Resources at IHG, for referring new subscribers to Talent Edge Weekly. Thank you, April, for your support of this newsletter!

Thanks to those who’ve participated in the contest in which I am giving away 10 copies of the new book Strategic Workforce Planning: Best Practices and Emerging Directions (where I authored one of the chapters).

I will contact the 10 winners via email and share their names in next week’s issue. If the winners don’t respond, I will contact the runners-up—so keep referring subscribers until the winners are confirmed!

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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 new template to help identify critical roles, estimate related risks, and inform talent planning.

While there has been a much-needed shift in broadening our view of work beyond jobs and roles, an organization’s ability to identify and plan for its critical roles remains important for effective workforce planning and talent management. Yet, organizations encounter challenges when identifying critical roles, such as assessing criticality based on a role’s job level rather than its impact on strategic objectives and stakeholder value. Beyond mere identification, evaluating various risk factors associated with these roles is crucial. Against this backdrop, here is my new editable template designed to help organizations identify critical roles and estimate related risks. The template allows users to enter roles to evaluate and simply click a box to indicate when any of the indicators are descriptive of the roles. Although I've previously shared individual tools for critical role identification and risk assessment, I've combined them into this single template. As with all the templates and worksheets I provide, the aim is to jumpstart conversations that lead to more informed talent decisions. Simply discussing these areas, even without completing the template, can unveil opportunities for more impactful talent planning.


Shares findings from Ernst & Young’s (EY U.S.) data-driven approach to hybrid work, comparing the performance and well-being of its hybrid employees to their fully in-person and remote worker counterparts.

Organizations continue to struggle with decisions regarding hybrid work and return to office (RTO). Stanford Economist Nick Bloom, who has studied remote work for over two decades, recently presented data (see slide 12) showing that some firms revised their RTO guidance multiple times since 2020, some changing it up to five times. As leaders navigate the RTO landscape, this new HBR article offers insights. It examines Ernst & Young LLP's (EY U.S.) data-driven approach to hybrid work, comparing the performance and well-being of its hybrid employees to fully in-person and remote workers. The findings indicate that employees spending 40% to 60% of their time in person report higher levels of well-being, belonging, engagement, and skills development compared to their fully remote or in-person counterparts. Based on responses from over 27,000 employees, in-person aspects of hybrid work foster a stronger sense of psychological safety to voice concerns and offer more on-the-job learning and real-time feedback, promoting equitable opportunities. Regarding the benefits of the remote aspects of hybrid work, employees feel more recognized and appreciated than those who are fully in-person, potentially due to perceiving a culture of care and respect facilitated by hybrid work. Other ideas are discussed. As a bonus, I am resharing my post on Cisco’s hybrid work study, based on three years of data from over 13,000 Cisco employees.


Covers results from a study on the impact of RTO on employee turnover, particularly senior-level employees.

As HR and talent practitioners utilize research-based studies to inform workplace practices, this new working paper sheds light on the impact of return to office (RTO) mandates on employee turnover, particularly senior-level employees. It focuses on Microsoft, Apple, and SpaceX because they were “among the first large American tech companies to implement RTO mandates.” A key finding is that RTO mandates coincide with longer-tenured and more senior employees leaving their organizations; many of the departing employees are being hired by direct competitors. The authors note: “our results suggest that RTO policies can lead to an outflow of senior employees, posing a potential threat to the productivity, innovation, and competitiveness of the wider firm." As a bonus, I am resharing: 1)study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh that reveals no significant changes in S&P 500 firms' financial performance or stock market value post-RTO mandates but identifies a decline in employee satisfaction. 2) Research from the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California indicates that a 10% increase in work-from-home opportunities corresponds with a 0.78 percentage point (or 0.94%) increase in mothers' employment relative to other women. Empirical research can foster more informed decision-making that minimizes reliance on trends, biases, and anecdotal information.


A new 38-page report that shares insights about the growing integration of AI in the workplace and its implications for organizations.

This new 38-page report by Microsoft and LinkedIn shares insights about the growing integration of AI at work, its impact on the labor market, the rise of AI power users, and the importance of embracing AI to drive business transformation. Drawing from the survey responses of approximately 31,000 individuals across 31 countries, LinkedIn labor and hiring trends data, trillions of Microsoft productivity signals, and research with Fortune 500 customers, the report reveals significant trends. One finding includes that 75% of knowledge workers are now using AI at work, with 78% of them adopting Bring Your Own AI (BYOAI) practices, often without guidance or clearance from leadership. This approach risks missing out on the benefits of strategic AI implementation at scale and exposes company data to security risks. A primary driver for BYOAI is the struggle with the pace and volume of work, with 68% of individuals expressing difficulty and 46% feeling burned out, leading many to turn to AI for relief. While implementing AI may seem daunting, the report recommends that leaders start by identifying a business problem to which AI can be applied, citing examples such as Estée Lauder leveraging AI for product development and customer experience enhancement and Dentsu utilizing AI in creative development. Other ideas are discussed.


Shares 5 strategies for minimizing the need for the “meeting after the meeting”—when several participants informally gather to make sense of the meeting they just attended.

This article delves into the phenomenon of "the meeting after the meeting," “when several participants informally (and often spontaneously) carry on a candid, sensemaking conversation about the meeting they just attended.” Given that these post-meeting discussions can often push team dynamics and culture in a toxic direction, the author provides five strategies leaders can employ before, during, and after the formal meeting. One of the strategies is elevating the value of pushback in the formal meeting, where leaders should encourage debate and dissent during the formal meeting to address concerns in real time and prevent them from escalating into post-meeting discussions. This article could be a good resource to share with team members. If you are a team leader, at your next team meeting, here are three questions I suggest you ask: 1) How often do you believe our team engages in the “meeting after the meeting?” 2) Why do you believe this occurs? 3) What could I do better as a leader, and then us as a team, to ensure that we are addressing all concerns and questions directly in the formal meeting? I share this article as many leaders and teams continue to express concern about employee wellbeing, heavy workloads, and employee burnout—all of which can partially be alleviated by addressing "the meeting after the meeting.” Is this a topic for your next team meeting?



My one-page editable worksheet to help practitioners evaluate opportunities for improving the impact of talent reviews.

As many organizations prepare for talent reviews, I've created this editable worksheet to assist practitioners in identifying opportunities to enhance the impact of their talent review practices.


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 were announced this past week:

  • Enovix (NASDAQ: ENVX). The battery development company is laying off roughly one-third of staff in cost-cutting efforts. 170 workers at its Fremont, California, factory are impacted. The move comes seven months after Enovix laid off 185 engineers and other staff in Fremont.

  • Kenvue (NYSE: KVUE). The former division of Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to reduce its global workforce by 4%. The layoffs are expected to affect some 920 workers. The cuts come as a “transition service agreement” with J&J winds down.

  • Vacasa (NASDAQ: VCSA). The vacation rental management platform operator announced another round of layoffs. The company plans to cut 800 jobs, or 13% of its current workforce. This covers 40% of its corporate and central operations roles. The layoffs also affect 6% of its “local market field positions.”

Click here to access all listed announcements.


Mattel, Inc. (EL SEGUNDO, CALIFORNIA) [NASDAQ: MAT]—a leading global toy and family entertainment company— announced that Karen Ancira has been appointed Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, effective May 15, 2024. Ms. Ancira will report to Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel. Joining Mattel following 11 years with Yum! Brands, Ms. Ancira was most recently Chief People and Culture Officer, KFC, US and previously for KFC in Australia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. 

Karen Ancira

If you want access to +3500 (and growing) detailed announcements of CHROs hired, promoted, and resigning, join my CHROs on the Go subscription—a one-stop-shop for knowing who is moving in and out of the Chief HR Officer role.

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Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp, shares four ways in which firms can create a culture that encourages internal mobility, such as having managers develop a performance goal of consistently rotating internal talent (especially top talent) out of their team and into other internal groups.


Did you miss the “Best of April ” issue of Talent Edge Weekly? If so, check out issue #236, which includes 16 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