2013 was a banner year for U.S. businesses involved in mergers and acquisitions. It’s estimated that within the first 9 months, the total sale of mergers and acquisitions approached over $865.1 billion dollars - the highest mark since 2008. 2014 is off to a hot start as well. Just recently, two of the country’s biggest cable providers merged.
Aside from the stock market making noise on “Merger Day,” the businesses involved are faced with how to make changes to their existing operations. Will the logo change, or receive a sub-header? Will products change or be discontinued? What will the Marketing message to consumers be? What will happen to our workforce and productivity? That’s a huge concern for both merging businesses.
From finding ways to communicate change to championing a new message to making sure both IT departments are up to speed on new software, here’s a look at what companies should be mindful of when merging.
Culture Shifts Need to Be Addressed
Company culture changes from mergers go far beyond one company having bean bag chairs and the other having ergonomic office chairs. No, the real company culture shift comes from conflicting leadership styles, contradictory company regulations, different employee collaboration, and how employees are motivated to perform at their best.
If a merger happens, and leadership doesn’t find a way to communicate a message that employees can get behind, prepare for huge morale dips, or worse, a spike in employee turnover. While you can’t please every employee (some employees may resist any change and quit on that basis), it’s paramount you deliver a message to quell confusion that’s sure to come the moment the merger’s announced.
Using ej4’s Thinkzoom is the perfect way to deliver that message. Whether it’s a CEO or another member of the leadership team creating the communication, you create one message and share it often with every employee. Not only is video more appealing than an email, you don’t have to worry about the memo or email getting lost amid the hundreds of other messages each employee sees a day.
Training Programs Must Be Available
Many departments face adversity when a merger happens. Some employees are let go because their role no longer exists or their role becomes duplicative. Other departments take on additional responsibilities and must learn new products/procedures quickly. If there’s no accountability or easy training program in place, your company will be in trouble. That employee confusion I just talked about previously comes full circle and motivation is pushed to its limits. More stressful scenarios from unexplained responsibilities likely means performance levels will crash.
That’s why you must communicate that message the right way. If the IT department of the company that was bought out needs to learn a completely different software platform, make sure they have the right training videos to coach them through it. What about new hires that were brought on shortly before, or during, the merger? How does HR communicate different open enrollment programs or detail job responsibilities clearly?
Thinkzoom is that communication tool where companies can target the right message and help teach the skills that employees need to feel comfortable (re: not likely to quit) and productive for the future.
A company merger is a big test. While stock prices tend to trend up with the announcement, it’s what goes on afterwards that companies must be keen on to prevent taking unnecessary financial hits. Keeping tabs on employee morale through better communication is the first step. Informing the staff of new duties, changes to current ones and having an easy platform to discuss new company regulations will help to eradicate employee fears and confusion. Above all else, it’s imperative that communication is easy, frequent and front-facing to keep employee turnover at a minimum and ensure as smooth a transition as possible for the road ahead.