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HR news this week: From menopause leave to ChatGPT

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

This week, the HR news we’re seeing is quite varied. The effects of pandemic hiring, Australia Day substitution legalities, menopause leave, AI chatbots, and energy drainers all featured in recent HR-related media.

Pandemic-hiring implications

As reported by TechTarget on 18 January, Microsoft is letting go of 10,000 positions with the COVID-19 rush slowing down.


According to TechTarget, the pandemic created a large demand for tech industry workers, resulting in many organisations increasing headcount. Microsoft’s team grew 36 per cent between 2020 and 2022, jumping from 163,000 workers to 221,000.

Now with IT spending and computer sales dropping, TechTarget says Microsoft is set to lose almost 5 per cent of its workforce.

TechTarget referenced a blog post from Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella, who said: “We saw customers accelerate their digital spend during the pandemic, we’re now seeing them optimise their digital spend to do more with less … as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one.”

Legal issues with substituting Australia Day

Michael Byrnes, partner at Swaab, shared a recent article he’d penned on how substituting Australia Day may have legal implications.

Published on 23 January by Swaab, some organisations, such as Woolworths, Telstra, and Network 10 are giving staff the choice of replacing the 26 January date with another of their choosing.

Swaab said these decisions are due to the ongoing debate of when Australia Day should be held, as well as an increased demand for flexibility from workers.

As commented by Swaab, employers that allow for substitution shouldn’t then project their own beliefs on staff: “Exhortations from management such as: ‘We expect employees to do the right thing’ or ‘this is a time to show you are aligned with the values of the organisation’ should be scrupulously avoided,” said Swaab.

UK government rejects menopause leave trial

As seen in a 24 January article by People Management, the UK government has rejected a pilot program that could see menopause leave become national policy for organisations.

The Women and Equalities Committee called the decision a “missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce”.

The government’s reasoning behind the decision included that they didn’t want to create discrimination risks for men who are suffering from medical conditions.

ChatGPT in the workplace

ABC News reported on 25 January that the popular AI software ChatGPT is being used in various professions to make work easier.

Financial Review discussed ChatGPT, saying the “generative AI” was released on 30 November but has been worked on since the 1950s. It is essentially a chatbot that is capable of having conversations and answering complex questions.

According to ABC News, plenty of industries are using this technology to make their lives easier. Architectures, events teams, lawyers, software developers, and students are using ChatGPT instead of Google to answer questions and figure out problems. Some are even saying it’s better than asking an expert.

ABC News reported that some schools have already banned the software as it is considered cheating. “AI isn’t just the future of work — it’s already here”, they said.

Workplace energy drainers

This week, HR Leader noted AHRI’s article that details the five types of energy drainers you can encounter in the workplace.

An energy drainer, as described by AHRI, is someone who takes away the energy, fun, or buzz at work.

The five you may come across, as listed by AHRI, are:

  • The pessimist
  • The egotist
  • The perfectionist
  • The oversharer
  • The keen bean

AHRI reported that energy is “contagious”, and you can do your part by bringing your best self to the workplace.




Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.