• Blog
  • March 15, 2022

Mergers & acquisitions from a people perspective

Originally posted 15th March 2022, adapted 27th July 2023.

Between January to March 2023, the UK saw 356 completed mergers and acquisitions (M&A) at a total value of £12.7 billion. While this was lower than in the same quarter in 2022, economic and geopolitical instability saw cross-border engagements dip. Either way, it remains important to make sure the M&A process is as smooth as possible – even more so when inflation, recessions and the cost of living crisis unsettles so many of us.

Change can occur for a lot of different reasons; from the challenges of growth and changing global markets to digital developments and customer pressures.

Unfortunately, a lot of M&As are driven from the top with little information communicated to employees, so insecurities can arise.

From an HR and organisational change point of view, managing people during M&As can be broken down into five main areas:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication
  • Company culture
  • Wellbeing in the workplace
  • Tools for success

Conflict resolution

Conflict in the workplace is common, so effective conflict resolution strategies need to be common as well — especially when it comes to mergers and acquisitions.

A January 2020 study by CIPD showed that M&A projects increase the likelihood of destructive conflict in the workplace by up to 34%.

Having a conflict resolution strategy in place can prevent the following:

  • Lost productivity
  • Poor employee health and wellbeing
  • Potential accidents
  • Risk of litigation
  • Increased employee turnover
  • Absenteeism

Communication is key

Effective communication is pivotal during M&A’s because it directly influences the behaviour of employees and the way they perform. There are three easy ways you can improve communication:

Transparency and accountability

Be honest with your workforce and keep them in the loop with changes, both large and small.

Sending out regular communication from the HR and acquisitions team is a clear and concise way to share M&A updates. Using Trickle to support this process provides an opportunity to build on these communications by providing a psychologically safe, judgemental free platform for anyone to voice questions or concerns that otherwise might not be raised.

The platform allows you to ask simple questions such as “Are you finding the weekly update useful?”, giving your people an opportunity to share open and honest feedback – with the option to remain anonymous – that allows you to enact positive change. Trickle also conveniently ranks the top five most pressing issues or suggestions shared by your employees. This insight lets you further tailor your internal processes so that teams can work together to make improvements that last.

Create a dialogue

As an HR or organisational change department, getting as much feedback as you can in real-time will strengthen the collaborative mindset in your organisation.

Allocating time for informal chats or setting up a forum that will give employees a safe space to air their concerns is imperative.

Offering feedback channels will improve inclusivity across the organisation. On Trickle, everyone has the option to post as themselves or anonymously for those who do not feel comfortable speaking up. What matters is that employees feel comfortable to talk through difficult scenarios and come away feeling heard and most importantly, listened to.

Clear direction

Sharing timelines and productivity goals with your teams provides structure and lets them collaborate to reach collective goals. Remember, work gets done quicker when everyone is on the same page.

Nurture company culture

We know that during M&As, employees face extraordinary amounts of change. External pressures can also add to an atmosphere of unease, and diversifying teams can unfortunately come with interpersonal conflict in the workplace.

Creating a company culture that supports both new and existing employees is integral to the success of any business. Employees should feel like they can voice concerns without fear of judgement or exclusion.

Providing a psychologically safe environment, like Trickle, to discuss more sensitive issues is essential in bridging the communication gap between employer and employee.

Building your company culture around open and honest discourse will not only create a healthier work environment, but improve productivity and workflow in the long run.

Boost wellbeing in the workplace

Employee wellbeing is not always at the forefront during the M&A process, often resulting in the workforce feeling undervalued. In the worst case scenarios, businesses can experience loss of their best talent.

Research consistently shows that when employees feel supported, they take a more meaningful approach to their work and are happier day-to-day.

HR and organisational change departments should aim to give workforces the tools they need to embrace change in a way that doesn’t spark stress or trigger anxiety.

Using Trickle’s MoodSense tool lets you take a temperature check on how people are doing in real-time. The tool allows you to then quickly evaluate the feelings across your people and you can decide if further exploration is required, and begin finding ways as a team to make your people feel better equipped to do their jobs — and do them well.

The end goal

Ultimately, it is the HR department’s role to manage the integration of both companies in a way that achieves long-term success and ensures the health and wellbeing of their employees.

There is great importance in driving change together as a team. Keeping your people updated and included in the journey will help them stay motivated and empower them to make their voices heard.