4 HR Challenges and Solutions for Mergers and Acquisitions

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Sam WillisBusiness and Finance Writer

Friday, June 25, 2021

Working in HR can feel like you're constantly fighting an uphill battle, and at no time is that more difficult than significant company changes.

Article 4 Minutes
4 HR Challenges and Solutions for Mergers and Acquisitions

For example, mergers and acquisitions turn companies on their head and leave many questions and confused employees that HR usually doesn't have to contend with.

Although taking the helm and guiding employees through this transition can be challenging, it's not impossible. Here top difficulties human resources have to face during these changes and how to make them go smoother.

1. Finding answers to things that haven’t been decided

After employees have worked with a company for a couple of years, they may feel like they know every inch of how the business is run and what to expect from it. However, a significant change like a merger or acquisition turns that on its head. Suddenly every employee will start asking questions that human resources don't have answers to. Things like whether this changes some of the most important benefits to employees, or if it will mess with their hours and days that they work.

If you don't have the answer, it's okay to admit that: but you have to have a solution for when you'll know.

This isn't a time that human resources can play dumb. Be honest about the information you don't know, but study ahead and try to learn anything you can before employees even approach you. Schedule meetings to speak with those who decide funding for benefits and care and advocate for this information to get hammered out first.

2. Helping employees transition to new roles

Changes in the company mean an upheaval of what roles everyone fills and what jobs they're asked to complete. Unfortunately, not everyone will like their new positions, and some employees may not fit in with the company's unique structure at all. This can cause difficulty for human resources because they will often have to help with these changes.

For employees who are unhappy with their sudden and new roles, the best action to do is tell them that they're being trusted with this because the company has faith in them and wants them to succeed. Let them know how valuable they are to the business and that they're being given this responsibility as a promotion of sorts.

“If the employee has to be let go, the best course of action is to try and give them the tools necessary to help them move towards their next job. Whether that means offering to review their resume or giving them tips on interviews, this type of employee will be the most difficult to talk to, but frame it as a good thing for them.” - Marla Di Carlo, CEO of Raincatcher.

 

3. Instilling a sense of confidence in employees

Change can leave people feeling unsure and unprepared. Human resources have a duty to the employees to help keep them on even footing, excited about the next step.  To do that, it's essential to instill a sense of confidence in those who aren't a part of decision-making.

To help employees feel confident in their new surroundings, there are a few steps every human resources department should take:

  • Tell employees why the company kept them. Whether it’s because the business trusts them because they've worked hard for it in the past, or if it’s because they always turn out incredible work: let them know. Showing that the company is moving forward with them because they’re trusted is a great way to excite and build confidence.
  • Boost the pay and benefits of employees making a move. Of course, not every company can afford an increased cost of employee benefits, but if you're moving employees from one business to another through mergers or acquisitions, show the company is investing in them. This could mean more benefits or simply furthering the ones currently available to them.

4. Having clear information for managers and supervisors

After navigating the main groups of employees, setting aside their worries and answering their questions, human resources must communicate with shift leads, supervisors and managers.

These employees will usually be transplants from the previous company, so they're going to be familiar with the general employees but may have many questions about the company's rules and approach to corporate culture. Naturally, these questions will be easier to answer, and it's okay to be frank and honest about everything you know.

There’s no simple merger or acquisition

Although life would be simpler if an acquisition or merger were simply a change of name: nothing is ever that easy. Instead, it's essential to keep in mind how much work is ahead and how much of it can be handled piece by piece.

Breaking the large projects into smaller and more palatable pieces will make it so that human resources can handle anything thrown at it. As long as you move forward with honesty, an open attitude towards employees and a team attitude, you can conquer this merger or acquisition and ensure that the business comes out unscathed on the other side.

Human resources are the string that holds an entire company together: by handling mergers and acquisitions with aplomb, you'll be able to prove it.

Sam Willis

Business and Finance Writer

Sam is a business and finance writer that focuses on helping small business owners increase the value of their business. He specializes in topics related to business valuation, business management and business acquisitions.

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