M&A: How to Avoid Employee Communication Problems
Change is everywhere. We see it all of the time. And let’s face it, change is scary. At Helios, our clients are constantly faced with changes. One of the biggest and scariest of these changes is a merger and acquisition. So how do you keep your employees motivated and engaged when going through such a big change as a merger and acquisition?
Below are some helpful guidelines for communicating during a merger and acquisition:
Adequate communication is essential for a successful merger and acquisition:
- A communication plan should be developed to show employees they are respected and valued throughout the process.
- Communication should be relevant and meaningful.
- The earlier you communicate, the better.
Plan Before the Announcement:
- The reason behind the merger should be explained to employees, shareholders, government agencies, and customers.
- Communication tools such as community press releases, letters, emails, employee intranet announcements, brochures for customers, and FAQs should be used.
- It is important to keep in mind that the announcement of the merger will not excite everyone. In fact, the employees of the firm being acquired may find the news to be devastating.
Help to manage the psychological effects on the employees:
- Acquisition will mean significant changes and resistance to these changes for employees.
- Employees may leave the new organization due to fear and shock, while the employees that stay will experience a great deal of stress.
Manage the Endings:
- Be prepared to explain the reasoning behind the acquisition.
- Make clear what each employee stands to lose.
- Plan for resistance to the changes.
- Give the employees a scheduled timeline and plan.
- Employees will need to grieve the loss of their former organization, the loss of co-workers, and the loss of their daily routines and feelings of comfort.
When the merger is officially announced:
- Both organizations will need to be aware that this change will bring about resistance and communicate openly and honestly, and as consistently and frequently as possible.
- Understanding the competitive strategy and motive of the merger and acquisition will enable you to develop a valuable communication strategy.
- During a major change such as a merger, employees are in need of information that will bring clarity to their specific situation.
- Communication should be constant and delivered in a variety of ways such as email, FAQs, meetings, a dedicated website, videos, conference calls, town hall meetings, etc.
Employees are the key to a successful merger. Change is scary and resistance to change should be expected. The fears and feelings of loss experienced by employees should be prepared for and addressed. In order to maintain stability and ensure a smooth transition, a strategic vision and constant open and honest communication are critical.