The Criticality of Employee Communication during M&A

The Criticality of Employee Communication during M&A

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The COVID-19 pandemic and market volatility may lower an organization’s and individual’s readiness to implement new programs, practices, or policies. For example, employees with low resiliency and readiness may not be psychologically prepared to adopt a necessary technology change and adjust how they perform their responsibilities, nor be positive participants in a merger integration process.

If so, they may perceive any change negatively and avoid or resist any or all change initiatives. They may choose to fight, freeze, or flee (i.e., leave their company) without understanding or accepting why a change may be necessary.

So how can organizations and leaders build a change-ready and resilient workforce? My Crowe colleague Lisa Roen co-authored the “4 Keys to Building a More Resilient Workforce” article found at https://www.crowe.com/insights/4-keys-to-building-a-more-resilient-workforce-brs. Within this post, and others to follow over the next three months, I will review one of the four keys to resiliency.  Today’s topic is employee communications.

An effective employee communications process has two components – a compelling story and a robust implementation plan. The compelling story, developed collaboratively among the senior leadership team, would include anticipated organization, customer, and employee benefits and if appropriate a high-level summary of transaction and integration strategies or goals. The story might also include market factors, business drivers, and transaction strategy (ex. enter new geographical markets) and success criteria.

The employee communications implementation plan should include:

  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities. For example, a dedicated employee communications workstream or the acquiring company’s human resources or marketing function
  • A communication calendar identifying the audience (ex. all employees or middle managers), the methods (ex. email, webcast), and the timing
  • Key messages and sample talking points
  • Answers to anticipated frequently asked questions (FAQs), and “holding statements” to respond when answers are unknown or confidential
  • An event schedule (ex. town hall meetings) with “go live” milestones
  • Rehearsal events for leaders to practice and refine the key messages

A listening strategy is an integral part of the communication plan, as employee feedback will improve future clarity. A 5-7 question multiple choice survey will also provide quantitative benchmarks to measure your ongoing progress.

A committed and engaged leadership communication team adds the “secret sauce” to the communication recipe. You may comment on effective or ineffective employee communication practices you have led or experienced below. 

Author

Mark Walztoni

Managing Director, M&A HR Due Diligence & Integration & Change Leadership – Crowe