When merger and acquisition activity takes place, it is natural for the employees to feel apprehensive. Fear of the unknown can often adversely affect productivity, making it important for managers to understand the concerns of their employees. Understanding employee perceptions and addressing their concerns can help to soften the impact of the transition and lead to a smoother and more successful integration into the new organization.

To successfully ease the stress of employees during an M&A, managers must recognize the different needs of each individual. Many employees may feel uncertain about their roles in the new organizational structure or if their job is even secure. Additionally, employees may wonder what opportunities they can take advantage of to advance in their new roles.

Creating an open communication channel is essential to ensure employees feel heard and valued. Companies should provide clear information regarding job roles and expectations, as well as career development opportunities, to foster a sense of security and comfort. Taking the time to address concerns and provide up-to-date information can help employees prepare for a merger and feel more confident about their future with the new organization.

1. Keep employees informed during the merger and acquisition process

It is important to keep employees up-to-date and informed throughout an M&A process. Too often, employees find out about mergers and acquisitions after the contracts are signed, and the deal is done, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, betrayal, and anger among staff. To lessen this stress, it is important to ensure that communication is open, honest, and frequent throughout the process.

Providing a timeline of major milestones and explaining the reasons why the M&A is happening is key. Employees should be given as much information as possible and be given the opportunity to ask questions. The more they understand, the more likely they will be to accept the changes. Additionally, it is important to take the time to learn what employees are feeling and what their concerns are, whether it be through one-on-one meetings or group meetings.

In order to ensure a successful transition, organizations should create a welcoming atmosphere. It could be as simple as a large banner to mark the new company or other recognition for employees. This will help employees to feel like their transition is valued and respected. Keeping employees informed and engaged throughout the process will help ensure the transition is as smooth and stress-free as possible.

2. Create and share your transition plan

A transition plan is essential for an effective merger of two companies. It can cover elements such as a new company name, employee email addresses, and a method of ensuring continuing paychecks for acquired company staff. It is important to communicate this to employees so that they understand the upcoming changes and feel less anxious.

Organizational charts are highly beneficial to visualize the transition and merge the two companies together. This chart lets you easily spot individual roles, departments, teams, and locations. It is, therefore, pivotal to share the transition plans and the organizational chart with employees.

There might also be the need for individual meetings with staff to explain the transition and how employees can continue to work in the new company. Doing so could encourage the best talent to remain in the company and become enthusiastic about the transition.

Overall, knowledge is key to helping employees understand the changes resulting from the merger. The more information communicated to them, the less anxious they will be. Communicating the transition plans and organizational chart to employees can ensure a successful integration.

3. Align company culture

Integrating two companies can be challenging, with one of the major concerns being the cultural fit of the two organizations. Research by the International Journal of Innovation and Applied Studies has shown that a lack of a good cultural fit is a major contributing factor to M&A failure. It is important for upper management to assess both companies’ cultures to ensure a successful integration.  

Culture is more than just benefits and general company perks. It involves looking closely at the different ways both organizations get work done. Comparing the cultures of the two companies can help to identify any potential differences that could lead to friction in the integrated entity.

For example, one company may work more slowly on developing new products while the other company may move more quickly. Recognizing any potential discrepancies is key to ensuring a successful integration. This can be done through conducting thoughtful integration planning sessions, during which the employees of both companies can express their needs, wants, and ideas. This open dialogue can help smooth the transition and ensure that all parties involved move forward with a clear and unified understanding of their roles in the new organization.

4. Unify organization objectives and goals

When a purchasing company acquires another, they often come with an attitude of “we bought you, so you are going to do what we say.” This attitude can be detrimental, creating division between the two companies, leaving teams reluctant to share information, hindering training efforts, and negatively impacting production. It is essential for leaders of both organizations to come together, setting goals and objectives that benefit the entire company. Having an open dialogue to reach a consensus is the key to countering any “us versus them” attitudes. When everyone is on the same page, the two companies can start working together more effectively. Achieving the goal of seamless integration through collaboration is integral to success.

5. Be positive

M&A deals continue to be a part of the corporate landscape. For employees of the companies involved in such deals, feelings of anxiousness and confusion may arise due to a lack of understanding of where they fit in the newly merged organization. To keep rumors from taking hold and to help ease apprehension, it is essential to keep the lines of communication open throughout the M&A process.

Organizational charts and visuals are helpful in illustrating to employees their place in the new organization. To help the process of integration, the new company’s brands, technologies, and reputation should be discussed with respect, and potential benefits and challenges should be highlighted. It is also beneficial for employees to be able to talk about how their skills and talents can contribute to the new company’s goals.

Having positive conversations and maintaining a positive attitude will also enable employees to remain productive. Bringing people up to date with regular, frequent communication will help dispel rumors, as well as reassure the employees of their worth, allowing them to confidently “sell” themselves to the new company. Ultimately, keeping the focus on the positives and on the opportunities for growth and development rather than on the negatives helps to ensure a successful M&A experience.