When two people get married, everyone they know is almost always happy for them. But it’s completely opposite when two companies merge. Employees are restless and anxious, fearing that they would lose their jobs. Others won’t be thrilled with the competition they will get from their new colleagues, while some may not be looking forward to having a new boss.
Employee engagement will also be affected by mergers and acquisitions. According to HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt, mergers can increase the number of actively disengaged employees by up to 23 percent. Moreover it would take three years after a merger for a company to bring back the number or percentage of highly engaged employees.
Communication plays a huge role in making employees understand why their firms have to be merged with or acquire another company. More importantly, it can help appease worried workers who are threatened by the changes happening in the workplace.
If you are part of a communications unit and you’re company is about to be merged with or acquire another firm, you will have to come up with solid corporate communications strategy to communicate with the employees.
While there are a lot of things to be considered in drafting a corporate communications strategy, here are some pointers to help get you started:
1. Tell a story
One effective way to make the employees understand the merger or acquisition is to tell a story. The story should simply tell why the company is merging or acquiring another entity. When a quick, relevant, and memorable story is imparted, there is a chance for leadership to connect to all stakeholders.
Focus on the benefits of the merger not only for the employees but for the institution itself. For example, say that if company A is to merge with company B, the resulting firm would be the biggest in the industry. Being the biggest would translate to better pay for employees or better services to clients, for instance.
2. Timing is critical
A good corporate communications strategy will go to naught if employees had learned about the merger from other sources like the media. The employees should be the first to know about mergers and acquisitions so as to avoid rumors from negatively affecting employee morale and engagement.
Even before a merger or acquisition is finalized, there should be a corporate communications strategy in place. It should have an action plan and a timeline. The former must include the coordination efforts for both companies. It must also have assigned roles and responsibilities. The timeline ensures that key milestone dates and deadlines won’t be missed.
3. Managers will play a huge role
Managers and HR supervisors should be kept in the loop throughout the merger or acquisition process. After all, they are the people that employees will turn to if they have questions. Managers should be quipped to positively address any issues or concerns that employees have. They should know what to say and what not to say when asked by their staff.
4. Be transparent
Employees should know what is happening. To do so, your team can develop and implement various communication techniques. One way is to create a FAQ and disseminate it with the rest of the organization. You can share it via email or through your company’s Intranet. You can also have town hall meetings where issues can be thoroughly addressed, and where employees can raise their concerns.
Mergers and acquisitions are two subjects that will never be popular among employees. But if properly communicated, companies will be able to make their staffers understand better these issues and more importantly keep engaged employees focused on their jobs.