Crisis management stage: What do I take care of next?

A journey through COVID-19

April 16, 2020
 

 

 

Achim Mossmann

Achim Mossmann

Principal, Tax, KPMG LLP (US)

+1 212-954-6812

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

What do I take care of next?

We previously covered our journey through the Fear stage. Our next stop along the COVID-19 curve is Crisis Management. Crisis management describes how an organization deals with a disruptive and unexpected event that threatens to harm the organization or its stakeholders. It  involves taking all of the information gathered from both the Shock and Fear stages and using it to implement a consistent company-wide response.

Now is the time to implement and communicate your Crisis Management plan and create a positive impact for your employees through regular connections and touchpoints. This, in turn, enables them to focus on their job and helps the business to stay agile and effective as conditions evolve.

Crisis Management requires strong leadership and communication at all levels that meets challenges by being accessible and focusing on issues within their control. This, along with learnings from the Shock and Fear stages, allows leadership to craft a more tailored, meaningful, response plan. 

 

Moving forward: Instilling trust and moving forward

As a mobility and/or HR department, you are partnering with cross-functional teams to provide just-in-time communications to your workforce. Crisis Management continues this momentum with an increased emphasis on building confidence and resilience among the employees you support. This begins to transform the conversation from employee physical and psychological well-being to trust and faith that the organization will continue to support them throughout the situation and that the organization is working on a recovery action plan .

A key component of this is fast, consistent communication of goals, objectives, and guardrails. The priority is to determine key commitments, how these will be achieved, and to communicate these items quickly and effectively. This sets expectations, provides structure, and allows employees to act against a set end-goal instead of a moving target.

Mobility and HR professionals, in most cases, will disseminate Crisis Management information to employees and will be responsible for branding the communications and emphasizing employee-centric objectives. This means that you continue to act as the front line for employees and are responsible for three populations: the broader employee or mobile-employee population, your internal teams, and affected vendors.

Ultimately, success for mobility and HR is therefore two-fold: meet the duty of care your employees expect and prioritize business resilience and continuity.

This information, within the following checklist will help you firmly establish Crisis Management techniques and allow you to craft the image of the organization as you move beyond the crisis.

Business Continuity Checklist

People

  • Communicate and support the company’s point of view, policies, and resources through consistent leadership messaging illustrating a commitment to employees
  • Provide work-from-home expectations and establish an ongoing communication cadence as expectations change and organization adapts to the new normal
  • Emphasize employee-centric policy shifts or concerns such as flexibility to accommodate family schedules, how to procure office furnishing or electronics, clarification on who will pay for equipment, CARES Act refunds, etc.
  • For commuting or mobile workers, establish clear objectives for changes in work location or job roles
  • Provide clear instructions in the event an office must be accessed (i.e. access, time, cleaning, communal space protocols, parking, etc.) 

Mobility

  • Review and communicate temporary policies including temporary housing, host payments, evacuation or relocation to different locations for safety reasons, per diems, changes to equalized taxes and expenses, etc.
  • Furlough and/or salary or workforce changes: qualify what is covered as part of these arrangements and how companies will change structures and even withholding based on new compensation plans (i.e. will cost of living (COLA) change in places experiencing inflation)
  • If you haven’t already, initiate move processes in instances where repatriation is necessary and provide location-specific protocols and outreach in hardship locations
  • Launch enhanced mobility portal with employee issue intake process and new policy documentation and resources, as they are updated
  • Confirm supplemental resource needs and long-term staffing plan (i.e. duration of resources, type of resources, number of resources, etc.)
  • Discuss with stakeholder how this “new normal” impacts their current and future mobility needs, employee movement, and costs 

Tax and compliance

  • Communicate new tax implications, (i.e. CARES Act, Tax filing deadlines, IRC Sec. 139, payroll tax deferral, etc.) and how they impact the employee and company
  • Quantify the impact of tax changes, in all global locations, on current business model: will shelter-in-place initiatives impact PE, will temp. expenses increase, etc.
  • Consult impacted employees on changes to their personal tax situation and short-and long-term tax planning opportunities, if appropriate
  • Clarify tax, withholding, and equalization protocols for individuals working outside of their normal office location. Take a broad view on locations looking at state borders, international borders, EU workers, and other non-standard combinations
  • Leverage vendor ecosystem to update targeted stakeholders on current and potential legislation and tax impacts both locally and globally

Immigration

  • Connect with impacted employees using tailored guidance around multiple scenarios such as visa holders who want to move to different states; working for host-based entity from home-country; individuals with expiring passports, visa, or work permits; individuals who have a different immigration status than family members; etc.
  • Release “fast repatriation” checklist to employees. Use empathy in responding when employees elect to move home vs. stay in host location
  • Require immediate, enhanced assistance in location monitoring
  • Alert targeted stakeholders of new legislation that affects the business and/or employees

Technology

  • Release updated single portal, including consumable resources, FAQs, and issue resolution mechanisms. Leverage what you have to offer: online chat, phone numbers, email or contact fields, etc.
  • To the extent possible, provide location specific advice to your employees. Do not overwhelm employees with information that doesn’t affect them
  • IT should communicate equipment and technology requirements to facilitate short-and long-term remote working conditions
  • Ensure IT has expanded resources to field questions from mobile employees and largely expanded virtual workforce

Vendors

  • Use vendors to connect with broader peer network on COVID-19 leading practices
  • Drive vendor action plan with integrated communications to employees – release communications via your single portal
  • Work closely with vendors to ensure you and employees are receiving the right level of support and care: be proactive and make your needs known
  • Gather vendor data to paint picture of current and future business operations (i.e. relocation costs, housing costs, emergency service costs, immigration costs, etc.)
  • Review vendor-created action plan and align proposed plan to organizational response