Achieving Success Through Change — Mergers and Acquisitions from a People Perspective

15th March 2022

Between September and December last year, the UK saw 453 completed mergers and acquisitions (M&A) at a total value of £3 billion. With more organisations joining forces after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to make sure the M&A process is as smooth as possible.

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 about job status and new management systems can arise.

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

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

This article will outline what HR and organisational change departments can expect during mergers and acquisitions; looking at key ways to make the people at the heart of your business feel respected and supported. 

After all, a happy workforce makes a successful business.

Conflict resolution

Conflict in the workplace is common, so effective HR 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%.

As we have discussed, the uncertainty that often comes with an M&A can raise anxiety and stress levels of an entire workforce, meaning people are more likely to snap at colleagues and upset day-to-day work.  

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 in increasing productivity, 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

Transparency means being honest with your workforce and keeping 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 throughout this process provides an opportunity to monitor the success of these communications. 

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 that allows you to enact positive change. Trickle also conveniently ranks the top 5 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 a variety of channels to provide feedback will improve inclusivity across the organisation, including allowing anonymous feedback through Trickle for those who do not feel safe to speak up. What matters is that employees feel comfortable enough 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 with one another 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.

Trickle allows employees to post anonymously, removing the fear of speaking up. Providing a psychologically safe environment 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 teh 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. Simply submit a question to your group — for example, “do you feel supported by your team?” — and let employees rate their feelings for the day with the click of a happy or sad face. 

MoodSense 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 departments’ 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.

Improve the chances of success

Trickle’s “Fathom” service provides you with a deep understanding of what matters most to your people post-acquisition, and helps you make your teams feel more certain and secure in their new environments. 

Our Customer Wellbeing experts work closely with you to deliver insights on the top improvement opportunities from the perspective of your employees, so that you can unite your workforce and boost morale as you go. 

The three month exercise is perfect for organisations of 100+ staff. Your investment of £7,500 for this package is quickly paid back by providing you with a clear view of the priority themes you can address and tackle together to convert unsettled employees into thriving and loyal teammates. The insights report you will be provided with will also indicate the potential staff churn costs (disruption, recruitment and training) you may face in replacing staff at risk of leaving your organisation. 

Throughout the process, we will provide weekly check-ins to monitor progress and our reports will outline the key findings so that you can take action together and improve day-to-day wellbeing. 

Every month during the exercise, our team of experts will meet your stakeholder team to present and discuss insights and what improvements you can make moving forward – and most importantly, how to make them last. 

Put your people first through any merger or acquisition. Contact us today to see a sample employee insights report and take a personalised demo of how Trickle can bring your new teams together.

To find out how Trickle can help you add more fun to your organisation, get in touch for more information or to book a short 20 minute demo.

Alternatively you can trial Trickle absolutely FREEclick here to find out more.

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