Facing a Merger or Acquisition? Don’t Let It Make You Miserable

HR and a company’s relocation strategy play a monumental role in not only the successful transition for the employees involved, but also in the fundamental and financial success of the merger or acquisition. Mergers and acquisitions can be a scary and stressful time for all involved. Employees hear the rumors, wonder if they will lose their jobs, and fear the unknown of possibly having to relocate their family. Rather than losing vested years, seniority or job title, benefits, comradery or comfort in the present company by seeking a brand new job opportunity with a different company in the same town, many employees accept relocation packages to the new location in order to stay with their current company after the merger.

An extremely high percentage of all mergers and acquisitions fail, many due to “people problems” or human capital logistics. In order to give your company the best possible chance of a successful merger, top executives and managers need to keep a few things in mind:

  • Communication controls the company climate: Rumors can destroy morale and productivity. Due to SEC guidelines, there are many times that mergers/acquisitions between publicly traded companies cannot be discussed prior to an announcement. Regardless of the circumstance, it’s vitally important to let all employees know what is happening as soon as legally possible. It’s equally important that all managers are on the same page and told identical information regarding the merger to alleviate any miscommunications between offices or other locations.The more upfront and honest management can be with the employees, the better chance of employees maintaining positive attitudes and not prematurely quitting in the midst of the merger. Doing so reduces employee turnover, retains vital employees, and is much more cost effective than recruiting and training new personnel.
  • Plan ahead: Just because the M & A hasn’t been officially announced doesn’t mean you can’t jump ahead on planning and restructuring. Employees need stability and organization. When the higher ups are scattered and frazzled, it is noticed and will provoke a similar response throughout all levels of the company. When the merger is set and known by management, HR and management need to be proactive in choosing employees they wish to relocate and begin the process of coordinating international moves. Providing cultural training can also be extremely beneficial. Require relocating employees to sign NDA’s to maintain confidentiality of the merger. Most merger relocations must be done within a small window of time, usually 30-90 days. Allowing the maximum amount of relocation time will be beneficial all the way around.
  • Personalize relocation packages: Employees are not created equal. They have different needs, home situations, family dynamics, community ties, abilities, etc. A blanket relocation package usually won’t secure as many commitments to relocate as will a customized package. If the company is small, speak with each employee to find out what is important to them. If the company is too large to meet one-on-one, send out an opinion survey via email. This will provide essential feedback on ways to entice relocation. Instead of higher salaries, more time off, paid moving expenses, some employees may be more interested in education reimbursements, return move provisions, or monthly housing allowances. All promises and/or guarantees need to be made in writing and signed by both parties. Happy employees aid in happy mergers.
  • Maintain a strong global HR team– Consistency is important during international relocation. Having a team in place on both ends of the relocation spectrum allows for a smooth transition for employees. It’s essential that both teams are on the same page regarding setting and enforcing the company’s policies and protocol. Clearly defining roles and expectations will eliminate much of the stress and confusion.
  • Employing or outsourcing a company relocation program– There are many benefits to forming and maintaining a partnervisionship with a relocation company. Doing so can be an effective tool in maintaining your strategic . Unless your company has an in-house team that is solely focused on relocations, employing a company that specializes in relocation services can be paramount in the success of employee relocations. Allowing the specialist company to be involved with establishing relocation policy, to focus on organizing shipments of home goods, selling current homes, finding available housing in the new town, scheduling appointments, and many other necessary arrangements for relocating employees, enables the merging company to focus on their own business essentials and the actual merger. Outsourcing relocation tasks eliminates new overhead within the company, saves money in the long run (scalability discounts), provides competitive advantage over similar companies within the industry, boosts employee satisfaction and productivity, and may also provide tax advantages in many circumstances. Retaining key employees definitely has a positive affect on the bottom line.

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