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Jul 13, 2015

Whether your company is a serial acquirer or you’re just now going through your first acquisition, the potential to experience employee fallout can be disastrous if you don’t take a thoughtful approach to managing employee questions throughout the process.

The talent base that exists within the acquired company is usually a significant value driver in deciding whether to purchase a company, therefore it should be a top priority to retain that talent to get the best return on your investment.

Once the deal is announced, the questions start. These potential employees immediately begin to assess their own worth in the current company and question whether they will have a role in the new company.

Rumors will run rampant and they will begin to turn to their internal network to try to get more information, and most of the information they get will be inaccurate.  It is extremely difficult for employees to stay focused when issues that directly affect them are unresolved.

Remember, the employees did not ask to be acquired. Everything they know is about to change, and let’s face it, not everyone thrives on change. Addressing the questions plaguing your potential employees can head off serious productivity issues that degrade the value of the company you are buying, so the sooner you answer them, the better.

10 most common employee questions

  1. Will there be a job for me in the new company or will my position be eliminated?
  2. If my position is eliminated, will I receive a severance package?
  3. Will my role and responsibilities change?
  4. If my role changes and it’s not what I want to do, what other options are available to me?
  5. Will my pay change (base compensation, bonus, commission, etc.)?
  6. How will my benefits be impacted?
  7. What will the new organizational structure look like?
  8. Will I report to a new manager or department?
  9. What is the culture of the new company and will it be a fit for me?
  10. Will they keep my office open, or will they require me to commute farther or relocate?

You need a communications plan

Depending on your company’s size and reputation, some may be excited to become a part of the new organization; while others may grieve the loss of the company they have been working to build and may not know where to place their loyalty.

How should you answer these questions?

It may take some time before you are able to fully answer all of these questions, so you need to make sure you have a detailed communication plan.

  • Be open and truthful; if you don’t have the answers yet, let them know when you will.
  • Be clear and concise with communications; don’t leave things open to interpretation.
  • Be timely; try to stay ahead of the rumor mill. If you have a communication calendar, stick to it (if details you planned to discuss are still unresolved, say so.)
  • Be empathetic and caring; some people will weather the changes better than others — you are affecting their livelihood.
  • Flexible dialogue; company meetings, one-on-ones, Q & A’s, and a point person to field questions are some ways that this can be accomplished.

What’s in it for them?

By being forthright and open, you will help to build trust.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the details of the deal, but taking the time to address any concerns or questions will go a long way in creating a positive impression of the merger.

The bottom line is you will need to answer what’s in it for them.  Once they know, they will be able to move forward and get back to business, which is paramount to the success of the deal.

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