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Going through the M&A process is an exciting time for a business. The deal indicates new opportunities, locations and markets that the company can move into. It can be easy for the people at the top to get caught up in the excitement of merging with or acquiring a business, but for the people on the ground this can be a daunting time.
For employees, hearing that your company is approaching an M&A deal will ignite fears of redundancies, having to relocate, take on extra work or move departments. Staff engagement and cultural harmony between two businesses are typical issues that arise after a deal has completed, but employee issues can threaten a deal even reaching that stage. Team members often feel a sense of disillusion and disengagement, and this lack of morale or unwillingness to collaborate with a new company or colleagues can prove to be a very difficult roadblock to successful M&A.
It is for these reasons that HR professionals are tasked with the role of assuring employees that M&A means only positive things for your business. They must look at how the future business will be structured, how this will affect employees and how they can help two workforces to become acquainted with one another to be able to work together successfully.
Effectively communicating a merger or acquisition is a vital component not only in ensuring your employees are happy, but in the deal itself completing. Internal messaging must be clear and consistent throughout the deal process, and should begin long before integration begins. All written correspondence to employees, e.g. letters or emails to employees, should send a positive and collaborative message. Pay close attention to wording or hire a specialist to help alleviate any fears about the future of the business. Regular verbal communication will also help your employees feel as though they are being kept in the loop.
Effective internal messaging is essential, but it’s also important to consider your employer brand and how you appeal to potential employees. A decision must be made in the early stages of the deal about the new company’s identity and employer brand. This must then be translated throughout marketing material, the company’s online presence and internal practices. Attracting new employees to the business is just as important as retaining those already in it, and strong employer branding will ease a potential employee’s concerns or confusion about the company following M&A.
No one ever wants to have their role evaluated, but examining current roles in both companies is the best way to identify the new business’s staffing structure and what the merger or acquisition will demand of employees. There are numerous things to consider: will members of staff have new responsibilities? Will they have fewer responsibilities? Will they need to travel, or relocate to new offices? Will you need to hire more people? The sooner you identify roles within the new business the better, and current employees should be included in the process. Members of staff who feel as though they are involved in any restructuring will be more likely to take a positive approach to M&A.
Mergers and acquisitions can be challenging, but they present exciting opportunities for businesses and their employees. It is, however, critical that HR departments take care when communicating and implementing M&A processes within the business, as it is easy for employees to feel alienated and unmotivated. We would love to hear your thoughts: has your business been through the M&A process, or is thinking of doing so in the future? We can help: connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and let us know.
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