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Preparing Talent Mobility Professionals to Lead Through the first 120 Days of COVID-19

As COVID-19 prompted governments across the world to close borders, restrict travel and implement stay-at-home orders, global talent mobility professionals were tasked with adjusting strategy to meet assignee needs, stay ahead of evolving health and safety regulations and engage company leaders and other stakeholders. Simultaneously, Graebel’s top internal priority was to make sure our own people were well taken care of so that they could feel safe, equipped, empowered and confident to serve our clients and their mobile employees.



  • Provide strategic guidance and tactical support to clients on issues including relocations, real estate transactions, household goods shipments and immigration status, all in the midst of the pandemic
  • Help mobility earn a seat at the table with HR and Talent Management leaders and crisis teams



Planning efforts to help our clients through the pandemic started early, when the first signs of it appeared in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and then following it closely as it progressed through the rest of the world. Graebel helped global mobility leaders respond to COVID-19 by providing strategic guidance and tactical support while adjusting talent mobility programs and strategizing to the new normal of the mobile workforce.

“Graebel as a whole did an outstanding job. The level of information, constant changes, and the updates to my move where handled with the best professional behavior and expertise I’ve ever experienced.” – Employee of an aerospace services supplier

Following the process of the three Rs – rebound, reform and recommit – we offered these solutions to a variety of challenges, including:

  • Repatriation Activated: At the outset of the global outbreak, many companies had to evaluate if repatriating assignees was possible or not and whether they’d give assignees the option or mandate their return home. We provided immigration guidance and coordinated support from supplier partners to get assignees out of their host countries safely, while navigating border closures, customs chaos and airline cancellations.
  • Insights and Knowledge Sharing Enacted: To share knowledge and insights on common challenges, we convened virtual meetings of global mobility professionals from leading companies in various industries, to identify problems and brainstorm solutions – then shared these insights through various channels including a live webinar. We also created the Managing Mobility Through Coronavirus resource center, an online hub for ideas and insights on how to respond to the challenges facing the mobility industry, with materials on everything from the tactical to the strategic.
  • Onboarding and Internships go Virtual: With in-person onboarding for new employees on hold and the fate of summer internships in question, companies struggled to adjust their talent pipelines to new health and safety regulations. We provided guidance on onboarding new employees virtually and how to turn in-person summer internships into virtual internships. This was vital to companies’ talent recruitment and retention strategies, helping to set them up for success in the long term.
  • Stakeholder Communication: In a crisis like a global pandemic, mobility managers are in the eye of the storm. Senior leaders, HR executives, COVID-19 crisis teams and assignees themselves all turn to mobility professionals for information and assistance. We helped mobility managers anticipate issues and challenges and create FAQs on commonly asked questions for various stakeholder groups. Having answers on hand provided information stakeholders needed, and helped senior leaders recognize the value of Mobility.



  • Supplier Network Aligned: Graebel mobilized its supplier network to provide innovative solutions to address unprecedented challenges, such as offering temporary living for quarantine situations or food provisions and restocking through Extended Relief Services and enhanced pre-move-in home cleaning services. These solutions helped ensure an exceptional experience amid the chaos.
  • Immigration Guidance: As consulates and embassies closed their doors, immigration issues began to mount, some requiring rapid solutions. Due to travel restrictions, many assignees around the world, such as the H1-B visa holders in the U.S., overstayed their visas. We guided mobility managers through the process of identifying and prioritizing assignees needing immigration assistance and preparing to take prompt action when consulates re-opened.
  • Mobility Strategy Reimagined: Mobility will be different as a result of COVID-19, both in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic and in the long term. We created a whitepaper, Adjusting Talent Mobility for the World Ahead: Rebound, Reform and Recommit, to address mobility’s new normal and offer strategies to prepare for it.
  • Duty of Care: In keeping with our guiding principles, our account managers remained focused on our duty of care by continuing to provide exceptional experiences throughout the COVID-19 crisis. This included sharing a message from Bill Graebel, our CEO, encouraging mobility professionals and global organizations to remain optimistic about the future. Additionally, our supplier development managers were accessible around the clock to answer questions, problem solve or escalate issues, if needed.

“The whole team was great! We moved in the middle of the COVID-19 issues and they made this a wonderful experience even in such a difficult time. Already recommended to my fellow peers!” – Employee from company fueling America’s propane needs



With Graebel’s guidance, mobility professionals were more prepared, felt more educated and were ready to take a seat at the table and help with the people, processes and technology needed to be successful.

People Focused: We’re committed to focusing on people at Graebel. Assignees and clients benefited from agility and guidance during COVID-19. In fact, between January and May 2020, Graebel’s overall assignee satisfaction score and satisfaction with consultant scores both increased slightly compared 2019 statistics – indicating service and satisfaction remained a high priority throughout COVID.

To help ensure our own Graebel employees were safe, engaged, informed and empowered to help clients and prospects through the COVID-19 crisis, we provided regular employee ‘fireside chats’ and town hall updates, and set up #GraebelStrong to keep employees, clients and partners connected as the work-life balance became more important than ever.



Process Innovation: The innovative adjustments made to navigate COVID-19 challenges resulted in process changes that will positively impact the mobility industry. For example, supplier partners have adopted technology to make household goods shipping more efficient.

Technology and Analytics Supported:

  • Within Graebel’s globalCONNECT technology platform, program and assignee data and reporting capabilities were available in real-time. A custom option for exceptions was created to track COVID-19 related activity for ‘in the moment’ and future reporting with data analytics for each client.
  • Some clients engaged with Graebel Mobility Strategy experts and Business Intelligence scientists to build a comprehensive view of their data using descriptive analytics. This allowed Mobility managers to articulate a technology strategy to their leadership teams to help navigate changes and make informed, data-driven decisions.

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