Validation: How can I continue to do the right thing?

A journey through COVID-19

May 20, 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

The first steps to actionable validation

Validation is affirmation and obtaining the knowledge that you are doing the right thing. But, that’s only half the story. Validation is also an ongoing call to action that helps you use past findings to anticipate future change. Therefore, validation helps you identify and prioritize future initiatives that can transform your business.  In this week’s article, we will discuss why data-driven Validation is the key to transformation and emerging stronger in the new reality. 

Organizations today have more information from more sources than ever before. On one hand, this statement is empowering 

as it means that companies today have more resources and measurement mechanisms at their disposal. We’ve seen this illustrated throughout the COVID-19 journey with up-to-the-minute analytics on case numbers and historic trend data.

On the other hand, the amount of data can be overwhelming and confusing. Many organizations continue to struggle with harnessing the true power of their data, which can lead to data overload and a loss of analytic accuracy.

This can happen when an organization is unable to connect disparate data sets leading to incomplete analysis—leveraging only a portion of available, predominantly historical data. Because of the concentration on lagging indicators, an analysis can lack a transformative or future-focused outlook. 

As we’ve seen with COVID-19, data needs to prepare us for the unknown, not just affirm things we already believe and understand. This has led to the creation of COVID-19 peak trends and has provided many governments and private agencies with  predictions on when states or countries can begin to reopen their economies, get people back to work, and continue to protect human lives.

A broadened, trusted data set provides a mechanism to reframe analytics by identifying past trends that can lead to future predictions.

Future ready mobility insight

With millions of people working outside of their home country, actionable data is critical to optimize your workforce and help ensure that you meet the correct balance between short- and long-term career planning and costs. In fact, while information may be available, it’s critical to understand that many global mobility departments are just now leveraging analytics to validate the total number of their mobile employees, confirm how much they’re spending on these individuals, or why talent is even being sent abroad in the first place. 

COVID-19 has, for many, been a wake-up call—a time when prescriptive data is critically needed to keep operations moving and has led to the realization that data is de-centralized, data is missing, or that data was not used effectively to arrive at useful answers. At the onset of COVID-19, many organizations realized that they did not have basic data on their employees’ location, let alone prescriptive data. In a new reality, global mobility will need to transition to achieve actionable, manageable insights and emphasize quality over quantity analytics to ensure duty of care and help make future talent lifecycle and mobility predictions. 

In fact, it’s this future-focused approach that will allow you to review your Realization and Engagement phase initiatives and assess their current and future impacts. 

COVID-19 has also expressed the importance of connecting across talent management and/or business strategy  

groups with an emphasis on sharing data. In fact, many companies are already doing this to respond to COVID-19 employee needs. These cross-functional relationships are becoming more important as we emerge from the immediate circumstances presented by COVID-19. It will require global mobility to work more closely and more transparently with these stakeholder groups to predict and respond to fast-paced shifts in company business and talent priorities. 

These relationships, cross-functional data, and concentration on future-focused analytics are critical to validate the success of global mobility and help to define global mobility’s strategic future within the company. 

This week’s Validation checklist is focused on action-oriented questions that will help you drive value within your global mobility program. These questions will help focus your Validation story and ongoing action plan to ultimately Emerge Stronger.

Focusing on analytics: Key areas for sucess checklist

The cost of global mobility:

Global mobility is one of the most expensive employee programs within a company. While most organizations have some indication, or an estimate of assignment costs, few truly understand the overall costs related to supporting talent mobility globally. 

Food for thought:

  • At the most basic level, do you have the tools and processes to track your exceptions?
  • Are your exceptions—volume and spend—where they should be? Have they gone up over time? — Have the reasons for your policy exceptions changed? Do you expect an uptick in policy exceptions and costs as you recover from COVID-19?
  • Are reasons for approving exceptions based on objective and standardized procedures or an ad-hoc approach? How consistently are exceptions granted across the company?
  • Are you ensuring that retroactive payments are for approved exceptions only? If so, are you tracking and reporting on trending exceptions and associated costs so you can anticipate future increases?
  • Are assignment extensions justified against business need? Are these exceptions regular enough for you to require a policy review?
  • Are assignments beginning and ending as planned? If not, have changes to assignment lengths impacted your assignment costs such as tax payments, immigration costs, housing costs, etc.?

The right workforce:

Having the right talent in the right place is critical to business success. A critical component of this is working with your talent management teams to ensure that the right person is being selected for each position in line with overarching talent development objectives and that future plans account for additional costs or complexities in moving key employees.

Food for thought:

  • Are you connecting pre-move information such as candidate skills, level, and location, with our talent management system to ensure skill sets and talent considerations are correctly matched? If so, are you connecting post-move information with the talent database for validation?
  • Are you paying to move employees with specific skills that already exist in the host location? How can this information help define future costs or program considerations?
  • Are you aware of the skill sets available in all global locations and are you making sound ecommendations when moves are necessary? How are recommendations affecting business operations and employee career development?
  • Are you using past data along with company growth expectations to correctly predict move volumes, including mapping emerging and focus locations?
  • Are job objectives monitored and met in the host location and are newly-acquired skills being applied in the home location post-move?

Assignment preparation:

Preparing to move an individual from one location to another is one of the most time-consuming portions of the overall move process. Not only does this include selecting the right talent, but it also requires taking into account both regulatory and legal requirements which can slow or even cancel a move before it begins. Understanding how your talent identification and initiation processes are working is critical.

Food for thought:

  • Do you have efficiently structured and automated mobility initiation processes and are they effective in meeting requested move dates?
  • Are you predicting and tracking expenditures related to global compliance, such as immigration and tax to unfavorable regulatory conditions between home and host locations?
  • Do you know how easy it is to send an individual from location A to location B? Do you have any country to country location combinations that may constitute a “no go” scenario?
  • Are you leveraging all available tax planning resources such as totalization agreements, tax treaties, and other mechanisms to manage assignment costs? How could a review of these items or move locations assist in decreasing expenditures?
  • Are you making impactful recommendations on how to balance assignment objectives while decreasing costs?
  • Are you providing your service vendors with the right data to assist in mitigating exposure risks?

Employee retention:

Global mobility, while one of the most expensive, is also one of the most personal development opportunities an employee will experience during his/her career. A key measure of success for many organizations is how a global move will impact the employee’s development, post-assignment retention and career trajectory with the company. 

Food for thought:

  • Do you have a definition of assignment success and a defined measurement strategy (such as an assignment goal plan)?
  • Are agreed key stakeholder roles and responsibilities regarding performance management and post-assignment planning clearly defined?
  • Is there an understanding of key talent impacts which must be proactively managed across assignment phases to best support performance, development and employee experience?
  • Do you understand attrition rates of international assignees compared to domestic employees and the reasons for the departures? 
  • How do mobile workers perform against their peers in both short- and long-term performance indicators prior to and post-move?
  • Do specific jobs or country locations result in more employee dissatisfaction or assignment failures?
  • Do your mobile workers feel that their skills and value to the company have been enhanced by Their mobile work experience?

Work anywhere:

Work anywhere is now emerging in response to the challenges of COVID-19 to enable continuing employment and global business operations. It’s therefore important that we protect employees while maximizing productivity thorough work location flexibility.

Food for thought:

  • Are you connecting with your employee population to see how they are feeling, identify specific concerns and monitor performance? 
  • Are you leveraging public health data to identify continuing COVID-19 hotspots or areas with emerging concern?
  • Have you worked with payroll to identify compensation reporting changes and requirements related to COVID-19 legislative changes globally?
  • Are you leveraging legacy travel and assignment data to support predictions of COVID-19 related tax and immigration law changes will impact new work anywhere arrangements?
  • Are you positioned to leverage future travel data to ensure ongoing payroll withholding and tax requireemnts are maintained both domestically and internationally?