“Dear colleagues, I’m excited to announce that we’ve agreed to be acquired by Company X! We have an exciting future ahead and are looking forward to sharing more information in short order.”
– Executive Leader, Company Y
Historically, HR has not been involved in the early stages of strategy and planning during a merger, acquisition (M&A), or divestiture, sometimes joining the conversation just before the company-wide announcement. This delay can result in HR having little time to prepare for the onslaught of employee inquiries, such as: “What does this mean for me? What is the impact to my job? What will I have to do as part of this change? Where can I learn more?”
For many employees, the answers to their questions come via a barrage of information from different sources, such as e-mails, checklists, and town halls.
The nature of M&A transactions can make it challenging to connect the buyer and acquired employee populations in an organized and cohesive way. Multiple workstreams with competing priorities and timelines, rapidly evolving information with cross-functional impacts, and disconnected technology platforms often contribute to the confusion and disruption to leaders and employees on both sides of a deal.
Most M&As fail. Poor communications and cultural integration are often the cause. Read “How You Handle the Cultures Will Make Or Break A Merger.”
Not surprisingly, Deloitte surveys of companies show that organizations are challenged to effectively manage the flow of information to employees, despite employee communications and change management being top value drivers for M&A transactions.
Fortunately, with the recent explosion of technology in the HR marketplace, companies now have access to products and tools which can create a distinctive employee experience to manage the impact of M&A.
Digital tools are available
A digital workplace – using analytics and technologies which offer social, mobile, and cloud capabilities and are well-integrated with existing HR data – is one way to transform the employee experience and for HR to play an active role.
Digital tools create pathways to communicate with employees more easily and efficiently and support communications that are timely and targeted, while also simplifying and increasing the user-friendliness of moving through key processes.
Imagine a M&A world where:
- Communications can be tailored to specific employees – and employee populations – based on content, timing, and need. Micro-segmentation using personas and other HR data for each employee creates further opportunity to tailor communications.
- Employees can receive communications via preferred delivery mechanisms, with fewer duplicate messages. Analytics makes it possible to identify the number of people who have read a communication, enabling organizations to act with agility in reinforcing a message or changing the communication delivery mechanism to be more effective.
- Employees are proactively guided through the “Moments that Matter” during key processes in a just-in-time, user-friendly fashion, helping to minimize employee and manager disruption and increasing the number of mandatory activities completed on or ahead of schedule
- Organizations can reduce their overall spend associated with a M&A transaction by minimizing the number of people needed to create, deliver, and manage communications and processes, thus accelerating the ability to obtain value from the transaction
Personalize the messaging
M&A is not slowing down. The good news? A number of technologies in the marketplace can enable a digital workplace during a transaction and enhance the employee experience. These technologies use existing HR data to create a personalized experience for each employee, while enabling organizations to use analytics to understand how well they are connecting with employees and adjust an approach mid-process to be more effective.
It is important to remember that our employees are one of the biggest assets organizations have. Turnover from an M&A transaction can lead to loss of valued team members, reduced productivity, and high recruitment and lost time costs — all of which affect the bottom line. By making an M&A transaction a smooth one for employees, where their needs are met and their voices heard, the entire transition is able to be more successful.
Next time your organization is preparing to announce a M&A transaction, take a step back to ask, “Are the tools we have in place going to create a positive employee experience for employees on both sides of the deal?” If the answer is no, consider how to leverage the digital workplace to help improve the employee experience, and drive deal value.
Imagine that instead of the barrage of questions and required tasks to be completed following the M&A announcement, organizations could:
- Have customized, just in time communications delivered via one source vs. experiencing a barrage of overlapping, duplicate messages from multiple sources.
- Utilize a system which delivers a proactive, user friendly, digital guide through key processes vs. spending time on manual and labor intensive processes requiring multiple systems and forms.
- Accelerate time to value by focusing their M&A integration budgets on strategic, impactful areas vs. spending money on transactional activities which can lead to business disruption if not managed effectively.