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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Aligning Your Employee Experience in Merger Situations

By Tim Stahl — VP, Employee Experience

Companies that grow through acquisition or merger require the ability to bring teams together in many factors, but the two most important are culture and technology. Leadership will understandably focus more on the financial components of a deal, but considerations must be made for integration, knowledge transfer and the cultural impact on both companies. Each of the organizations that are being brought into the overall corporate umbrella have their own sense of self identity and it is important to make them feel whole, as one team. 

Thought: Aligning Your Employee Experience in Merger Situations
Aligning Your Employee Experience in Merger SituationsVP, Employee Experience — Tim Stahl
Thought: Aligning Your Employee Experience in Merger Situations

After mergers and acquisitions, organizations can expect a 23% increase in actively disengaged employees and for the number of engaged employees to be halved.

AON Hewett

Leaders need to be aligned and act as the driving force in effecting positive change – leading by example. You must foster trust in leadership and ensure there is adoption of a shared vision between the NewCo organization and the entire workforce. The absence of a shared culture can quickly lead to an “us vs. them” perspective that can put the success of a merge at risk. Quickly understanding and building your new shared culture, and working to efficiently transfer knowledge, is vital in these situation – both to reduce attrition and to protect your company from losing the knowledge and expertise held by your employees.

1 in 5 employees voluntarily resign following merger announcements.

Business Insider

42% of the skills and expertise required to capably perform in a given position will be known only by the person currently in that position.

HR Daily Advisor

The technological complexity of M&A will most likely be challenging beyond merely platforms, duplicative intranets, and integrations – it can include processes, governance, content, and enterprise architecture. A detailed strategy must be developed in order to create a realistic and actionable roadmap for full integration. Several factors must be considered for overall success, the most important being your people. Much like culture, an organization should understand the employee expectations and needs of their digital workspace paired with the requirements of the business to reduce friction within daily tasks. Creating a workspace that is beneficial to those being acquired will minimize losses in productivity and maximize adoption and positive employee sentiment.

95% of executives describe cultural fit as critical to the success of integration. Yet 25 percent cite a lack of cultural cohesion and alignment as the primary reason integration efforts fail.

Important aspects of your digital workspace to M&A

Quickly connect your entire workforce to information that is critical to their work and the business

Creating a platform that provides everyone with the tools and information they need to do their job is a day one need, but that does not stop there. The changes your organization will need to adapt to during the entirety of the integration is the hidden challenge of M&A. Nimble and timely adjustments must be made on the fly and the experience you create must have the ability to react to changing processes, needs, and information in order to ensure productivity remains positive.

Develop a shared brand for your new modern workspace

Connecting people to the new company can be as much emotional as it is rational. A well-developed internal brand connects people to one another as well as to the company identity, but a weak or nonexistent intranet brand leads to poor credibility, adoption, and acceptance. When a new intranet is created, it is a best practice to develop a new identity and fresh design that will give all your employees something new and exciting to share that helps signify their new shared experience together. That brand and experience will pay dividends to unification and adoption.

Empower the voice of your employees

Employees need to feel they have a voice in the direction of their company. This starts with assessing the needs of your workforce through two-way communication. Your employees need to be able to share their honest thoughts and expectations without repercussion in order to create the best experience overall. This can include employee interviews, the creation of personas, user testing, employee surveys, and employee sentiment AI tools. When they have a voice, they are more likely to adopt and adapt.

Combine your cultures

Mergers are typically greenlighted based on a set of financial parameters, but it is easy to forget that your bottom line typically rests with your employees – and they are human beings. The challenges they face with being acquired are typically at a very personal level. By adapting your culture to include some of their previous values, you will help them to still feel at home in their new organization.

Use data to make informed decisions

Set metrics and monitor employee sentiment, productivity, and usage through data and analytics. Understanding your employees and the effectiveness of the experiences you develop will provide you with real-time information to react properly and efficiently throughout the life of your company.

Client Stories

Exelon – 34,000 Employees

Exelon has grown through acquisition over the course of many years and each company they have acquired has developed a cultural disposition of “us vs them” especially in the way information is shared and policies were developed. Each acquisition required a change to processes and systems that were typically not approached with adoption in mind. Exelon had also fallen victim to a plethora of separate intranets across the company allowing many of their acquired companies to manage and run their own localized sites further crippling the ability to unify the company. 

We created a company-wide intranet that started with understanding employee needs and expectations in order to develop an experience that considered the people using it. We struck a balance between business requirements and user preferences through deep personalization. This developed into a dashboard of tools relevant to each user, personalized news feeds based on operating company, location and role while still enabling corporate communications to consistently keep all employees informed to what they deemed important. We also developed Employee Resource Group (ERG) pages, event calendars, social sharing, and employee feedback resources to connect people all across the organization.

Aon – 65,000 Employees

Aon grew rapidly through many strategic acquisitions and were left with many disparate systems that were old and outdated. The intranet they were utilizing had no ability to personalize and had no collaborative tools, which led to low adoption across the organization. 

We developed an overarching strategy to address the needs and capability across the company to ensure each group within the global company had the ability to collaborate and engage with each other. This stared with a roadmap that aligned business and user needs, designed an engaging interface that was scalable and flexible for future development, and built the experience from start to finish that included user testing to validate the outcomes. This resulted in an engaged and connected global workforce that was empowered to collaborate, connect with one another, and easily share expertise and knowledge.

Contact us if you would like to discuss how Rightpoint can help you help you deliver a connected and impactful employee experience.