Inaction: What happens if I do nothing?

A journey through COVID-19

April 22, 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

Doing nothing is ok. Inaction is part of the process.

We previously covered our journey through the Crisis Management stage. Our next stop along the COVID-19 curve is Inaction, a critical, yet many times, overlooked or under-appreciated response.

At this point, everyone is tired of sheltering in place and may have transitioned from experiencing on the job-related stress to new, home and virtual work-related stressors.  This creates a situation where it is impossible to compartmentalize our work and personal lives, contributing to a sense of fatigue and even burnout. You’re tired of fixing.  You’re tired of doing.  You just want to stop.

Inaction may also represent a feeling of being disenfranchised with social, economic, and even organizational responses to the pandemic at hand.

Within HR/Mobility roles, you’ve spent your time taking care of others, concentrating on the physical and psychological well-being of your employees and their families, while neglecting or putting yourself, your job, family, friends, etc. second.

Having just moved through fast-paced, relentless Crisis Management, it’s natural to need a break. These new stressors, the lack of personal care, and the shock of adjusting to a new normal have led to a feeling of overload, and one where doing nothing may seem enticing.

Taking a moment: Recharge for a stronger outcome

We want you to understand that Inaction is critical to moving forward. It centers on self-reflection and an internal desire to assess and reorganize thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Keep in mind: Inaction is only a pause, a moment in time, and gives each of us a chance to reflect on the past and prepare ourselves for the future. Inaction is not apathy or laziness, it’s recharge.

While we believe that this phase is one that each individual within the organization will experience on their own terms, it’s also a key tipping point in your journey along the COVID Curve and a point where you can either move forward into Realization or regress into Fear.

And it is this tipping point that makes Inaction key to your future success within the organization. Now is the time to help individuals move quickly through this phase with the right leadership and communication to emerge re-energized and emerge stronger.

Because of Inaction’s critical role and its differing effect on people, we have re-aligned our checklist to concentrate on you, your team, your mobile workforce, the businesses you support, and your vendors. This checklist is about focusing on the human connection.

Business Continuity Checklist


  • Connect with people you care about and may have neglected during the initial phases of the COVID Curve such as your family, your social network, and community
  • Feel empowered to let your priorities wander. Try a new hobby, read the book that has been on your nightstand for six months, bake some bread (if you can find flour)
  • Create a sense of normalcy and routine by eating your favorite foods, finding new ways to stay in touch, and continuing with both personal and social traditions (i.e. virtual happy hours, online exercise, etc.)
  • Prioritize self-care and getting the physical, psychological, and emotional nourishment you need
  • Embrace change and take note of how you adapt
  • Begin to understand that life will continue though it may look different on the other side of the curve

Your team:

  • Connect with your team members on a more personal level, deepening relationships and understanding what each person needs during this time
  • Empower your team to do what is right for them and role model that behavior (i.e. taking time off, taking scheduled breaks during the day, etc.)
  • Help team members understand that everyone responds differently and to not let small hiccups in process or communication derail you
  • Encourage team members to communicate with you when they are ready. Do not see silence as a negative, see it as their way to recharge in a meaningful way
  • Use team calls to get a pulse on how people are feeling
  • Make positive suggestions when you see team members regressing into fear or shock

Your mobile workforce:

  • Understand that mobile employees are continuing to adjust to the new normal and may take frustrations or emotions out on you or your team
  • Reiterate resources available to employees that help manage emotional and psychological well-being such as employee assistance programs, paid leave policies, and other company benefits
  • Use this time to proactively connect with employees in new ways such as unsolicited check-ins and quick supportive email messages
  • Continue to provide transparency to employees around what the company is doing to support them
  • Begin to establish a sense of collective well-being helping your workforce understand that they are not alone and that you are truly all in this together

The business you support:

  • Understand that Inaction is universal. The businesses you support will also go through this phase. Note: Depending on your industry, the responses and cycles going through the curve may vary significantly
  • Listen to your businesses and use this as a time to begin asking impactful, action-oriented questions such as, “What is your immediate plan? How will this impact your business model?, What are your employee concerns?, and How can I help?”
  • Discuss current employee sentiment and ways to turn Inaction into Action

Your vendors:

  • Let your partners know where you, your team, and your organization is in the COVID Curve and leverage their resources to take over immediately needed work and communication
  • Elicit feedback and information from your vendors on how to move the organization forward. Concentrate on positive, actionable content
  • Understand that vendors may be going through a similar phase at this time and responses may be delayed
  • Rely on your vendor’s network to help find resources or information that would be helpful to you, your business, and mobile employees such as social groups, well-being resources, etc.

Remember, the cure for Inaction is Action. As we move into the next phase, Realization, we will discuss how to create timely and relevant action to make your HR and mobility programs stronger.