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M&A Integration: Communication as a Best Practice to Mitigate Attrition

Posted on May 25, 2016
Madelyne D'AngeloWritten by Madelyne D'Angelo | Email author

Regardless of the nature of the transaction, during a merger or acquisition, all employees find themselves surrounded by change, impacting everything from organizational culture to the snacks in the kitchen.   From here it is an exercise in simple logic – with change, comes uncertainly – with uncertainty, comes attrition.  Is there no way to interrupt this equation?

How to Minimize Attrition During Mergers & Acquisitions

Minimizing attrition during a merger or acquisition is critical for many reasons.  The most imperative, however, are the continuity of operations, the preservation of intellectual capital, and the safeguarding of key client relationships.

attritionOrganizations who have been through mergers and acquisitions recognize there is a certain amount of attrition that must be expected with any transaction.  It is inevitable that there will be changes in the direction of the business, leadership, and individual roles, and some employees upon understanding the new direction may decide it is not conducive to their career plans.  Transaction attrition resulting from legitimate changes to the business operations is necessary and healthy, and not an area where an organization in the midst of change should spend its energy.

Where are the opportunities to mitigate transaction attrition? One opportunity lies in addressing and minimizing uncertainty, specifically the unknowns and confusion within the control of the organization to eliminate.  Frequently, we hear exiting employees say, “I didn’t know if I was going to have a job”, “I didn’t know what was going to happen to my benefits”, or “I didn’t know where the organization was going.”  When employees don’t know, or feel confused, resumes hit the job boards and networks start buzzing.

M&A Communications Strategy

Developing and executing a proactive communications strategy can ensure that organizations experiencing change are effectively addressing as many “unknowns” as possible, thus alleviating superfluous transaction attrition.  The organization’s strategy should start with a strong value proposition and drive as many early decisions regarding organizational structure, employment, compensation, benefits, and any other areas that impact employees as possible.  It should also identify what decisions cannot be made at this time and the timeline for those decisions.  When executing the plan, multiple communication avenues should be utilized, including face-to-face conversations and meetings.  The strategy should also incorporate activities to check the intended messages were received and clearly understood by employees.

Through our own experience supporting clients in their communications efforts during periods of change, Helios HR recognizes the challenge of driving relevant decisions and timelines during periods when everyone is strained.  This upfront investment of time, resources, and/or the cost of additional support, however, is well spent when considering the cost and disruption of unnecessary transaction attrition.

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