Whether it’s an emerging startup’s acquisition by a well-known industry player or an international corporation’s massive merger years in the making, successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A) require a significant amount of time, energy, and resources from stakeholders across the organization.
During times of busy M&A activity, senior executives often focus on tangible assets like increased financials, improved products, and expanded client portfolios. As a result, focus can unintentionally soften on the company’s most valuable asset: its people.
Dedicating the same care and consideration to human capital as financial capital is critical to a smooth and successful transition, and who better to lead the charge on people strategy than HR? Thanks to its deep knowledge of the workforce and corporate culture and its experience in everything from processes to payroll, HR has the (often overlooked) power to help facilitate a seamless M&A transition.
Here’s how HR pros can leverage that power for the organization’s benefit:
1. Grab an Early Seat at the Table
HR should ideally be involved in the planning and due diligence process of any M&A deal. If HR is left out of early conversations, organizational leaders may make decisions without having all the necessary information and people-based insights. That, of course, leads to less than optimal outcomes.
HR leaders know the company, the skill sets of employees, and the behind-the-scenes processes that make the company run. When HR is involved in an M&A from the start, decision-makers have access to this vital information and can better guide M&A process development.
2. Communication Preparedness Is Key
A merger or acquisition indicates growth and should be a positive experience for a company. However, when communication between leadership and employees isn’t honest and transparent, uncertainty and confusion follow.
The best way to ensure a successful transition is to communicate truthfully, early, and often. Leadership at all levels of the company must be readily available to listen to and address the concerns of their teams. Being prepared with responses to employee concerns can prevent issues from snowballing. HR can be the catalyst for effective communication by equipping leadership with accurate and appropriate answers to likely or outstanding employee questions.
3. Provide a Central Source of Truth and Facilitate Employee Questions
Being available in person is important, but HR should also offer digital resources that are accessible around the clock to help facilitate a smooth transition. A robust employee engagement portal can educate all staff by serving as a source of truthful M&A-related information.
The portal should serve as a hub for company information, potentially including a letter from the CEO, an M&A timeline, FAQs, and any supplementary documents. It should be routinely updated with relevant information, and perhaps most importantly, it should offer employees the ability to ask questions anonymously. A Q&A section where employees can confidentially ask questions they might not be comfortable asking in person clearly demonstrates that the company values and appreciates what its employees have to say….