Engagement: How can I continue to make a difference?

A journey through COVID-19

May 7, 2020



Katherine Avery

Katherine Avery

Principal, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-2237

Robert Smith

Robert Smith

Senior Manager, Tax, Global Mobility Services, KPMG US

+1 408-367-2787

Continuing to learn and adapt

As we discussed in Realization, it’s important to analyze past actions and to identify ways to transform business. Whether through continuing certain processes as-is or completly revamping them, the goal is the same: Emerge stronger from COVID-19.  In this article, we cover Engagement - a time of increased productivity where we take learnings from the COVID-19 journey. This phase reignites personal and organizational growth and the adoption of a change mindset. We cannot move forward with the status quo but must commit to changing the way we operate.

The idea of engagement is not new. However, for many organizations, engagement has historically been benchmarked against industry standards. COVID-19 has flipped this on its head and requires that engagement, at its foundation, creates a sense of physical and psychological safety that is more personalized, proactive, and company-specific.

A new lens on engagement and call-to-action is emerging triggered by an expansion of mobile employees to encompass most, if not all of, your organization. Being engaged and engaging your mobile workforce is more important than ever because COVID-19 has highlighted that we work in a world of constant change where the “new normal”, or target, is moving in ways we never anticipated.

Engagement: Change for the better


A key theme brought about by COVID-19 is the need to change and adapt. Change has the ability to be both a negative and positive disruptor within organizations. The goal at this point is to maximize positive change and transform negative disruptions into opportunities.

As the mobility organization seeks ways to increase engagement, both short-and long-term measures must be considered.  This is the time to raise the bar and reset expectations to a higher level. An imperative in raising this bar is being in tune with stakeholders, understanding their expectations, and strategizing how immediate changes will impact long-term performance.

COVID-19 has identified, for many of us, holes that exist in our current operations. This is true to everyone, but it’s really what you do with this information that will shape the future of your mobility as a service offering. Mobility programs with their sights on the needs of the future will take this information, validate their findings and successfully transform. They will be the trail blazers and practice leaders in mobility.

Our call-to-action is to use this time and available qualitative and quantitative data to overcome these challenges to create a launchpad for transformation into the future.

Since Engagement is a critical component to transformation, our checklist this week centers on key areas that have emerged around employee engagement and work. Please reach out to KPMG for assistance in answering any of the questions below.

Key focus areas for increased engagement checklist

Reframe the value for the employee:

It’s important to sharpen and reinforce the employee value proposition by taking a holistic approach to adding value from their point of view, including compensation, benefits, and rewards; development and advancement opportunities; and worker’s physical and mental health and safety. This involves improving the mobile employee experience including the end-to-end move process, home and host team dynamics, connections back to home, and workplace realities in the new normal.

Questions you should be asking:

  • Have we anticipated needs? Work with your business stakeholders to understand how COVID-19 will affect their future operations and anticipate their talent and location needs. Use this information to forecast how move volumes and/or move mix may change and what new policies and practices (i.e. work from anywhere and remote worker) need to be created or updated to accommodate new mobile worker categories.
  • Have we created a globally consistent duty of care standard that allows us to remain compliant, especially in cases where we have workers in multiple and/or virtual locations? Where it’s inconsistent, can we justify the rationale?
  • Have we provided the right mix and level of options to our mobile workers?  For example, did we provide the right measures such as enhanced allowances or a change of location by request during our response to COVID-19?
  • Are we doing everything we can to get value out of mobility for the business and the employee?

Prepare workers for the future:

An employee’s skillsets and well-being will need to be flexible to adapt to changes that lie ahead. It is therefore important to understand current stresses and gaps in training and capabilities that keep employees from performing at their personal best.

Questions you should be asking:

  • Do we understand the current responsibilities placed on our mobile workforce and have these responsibilities changed? How do we prepare employees to adapt accordingly?
  • Are mobile workers seeing increased or unique levels of stress and if so, what can we do to minimize this?
  • Do you need to step up your listening efforts at this time such as with surveys or focus groups? It’s important to hear what’s going on and aligning your ideas for change with on-the-ground experience.
  • How are we maintaining, or in some cases, restarting compliance efforts in the midst of a forced work anywhere culture

Collaberation and fullfillment:

Perhaps surprisingly, COVID-19 has created a trend where employees are more engaged, more collaborative, and more fulfilled in their roles. This trend is due greatly to how companies have responded with an employee-centric mindset.

Questions you should be asking:

  • Does our technology enable collaboration across the globe? Effective mobile working requires the best technology solutions.
  • Have the roles of employees changed since the emergence of COVID-19? If so, are we providing the right tools and collaboration mechanisms to meet new needs?
  • Have we considered the unique needs of mobile workers and how their mobile assignment aligns to their long-term career development goals? 

Don't just recover, succeed:

COVID-19 has been a true disruptor which can lead to transformation as part of recovery. It’s imperative that the business begin to look at both how to recover from this situation, but also how-to future-proof the workforce for what lies ahead. In our next article, we will cover Validation, the point at which we take our learnings and insight and prepare to emerge into a new world post COVID-19.