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Planning For Mergers and/or Acquisitions in 2021?

on December 03, 2020

Focus on Theses Three Key Aspects for Success.

While the pandemic may have slowed Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) activities, according to a recent EY survey, 33% of companies have closed an M&A deal since March 15, 2020. Some are claiming that 2021 may be the “year of M&A activity,” as market volatility has made deals attractive. Besides, interest rates are at historic lows and deals are cheaper than ever before.

How do you ensure a smooth transition for employees, the most important aspect of any M&A activity, especially as remote work continues into 2021? As leaders focus on the various aspects of any M&A deal, a failure to focus on cultural differences, employee onboarding, and employee communications can often result in costly attrition of talent and affect the overall success of the transaction.

Here are three key areas of focus for any M&A activity to aid in overall success:

1. Define the target culture of the company.

While this may sound obvious, in cases of either mergers or acquisitions, the two organizational cultural environments need to be examined. Both synergies and shared values need to be identified.

According to Fons Trompenaars, Ph.D. and author of The Global M & A Tango: Cross-Cultural Dimensions of Mergers and Acquisitions, when you start a merger and acquisition process, you need to reconcile differences, examine the corporate values, and work on the corporate identity of your new organization. “Culture is like an onion,” he said. “On the outside you have behavior, and at the core are beliefs and the basic assumptions we have.”

Selecting leaders who have intellectual curiosity and holistic business experience will be key in identifying the ultimate cultural stewards. By gathering the key leadership team members from various parts of the business, you can begin to peel back the onion, gaining consensus along the way, resulting in an organizational development action plan that can be executed as part of the overall M&A project plan.

2. Bring technology into the onboarding and integration process.

Involving IT, Ops and HR upfront during the early planning phase of an acquisition strategy is crucial. Onboarding new employees, from providing basic equipment and tools for their work, to ensuring a smooth transition of benefits and compensation/payroll, requires a great deal of planning and detailed project work. Accomplishing this, however, can be time-consuming and prone to error.

That’s why using data-driven technology, such as HRIS/HCM systems, payroll solutions, and employee experience solutions, are so helpful, as they allow organizations to transform while you transact. Technology integration must occur thoroughly and quickly enough that normal operations never appear disturbed by users.

By using automated processes (electronic forms and enrollment materials) and visual dashboards (providing valuable insights and data), successful onboarding experiences can be obtained, and employee needs can be met. HR teams can react so that key talent can be managed and retained, which is critical to maintaining business continuity as well as laying a foundation for future growth.

When E2open, LLC, a leader in supply-chain optimization technology, completed 14 acquisitions in 3 years, the HR and IT team implemented and utilized MeBeBot’s Intelligent Assistant to help employees with these transitions. As part of their onboarding process, E2open ensured that newly acquired employees (and existing employees) received instant and consistent answers to their questions, related to benefits, payroll, new policies, and IT processes and procedures.

Since many of their new employees were in global locations, E2open was able to extend the reach of their HR and IT team without having to add additional supporting team members. MeBeBot’s Intelligent Assistant answered hundreds of global questions automatically, so that HR and IT’s time was focused on ensuring other strategic projects (like job mapping and compensation plans) to drive successful M&A results.

3. Execute an effective and well-planned communication strategy plan.

According to SHRM
, effective communication involves providing information on:
a) the shared vision for the new company,
b) the strategy/plan for the integration and anticipated benefits, and

c) the outcomes and rough timelines for future decisions.

Communicating clear, consistent and up-to-date information gives employees a sense of control by keeping them informed. It also can increase the coping abilities of employees and minimize the impact on performance. Being honest also includes sharing information about when and how a decision is to be reached. 

By establishing multiple forms of communication (e.g., one-on-one meetings, group sessions, intranet updates, and employee focused chatbots), consistent themes can be communicated and repeated, and progress can be highlighted. In addition, the use of pulse surveys and technology provide opportunities for employee involvement and feedback.

MeBeBot’s Intelligent Assistant is one such solution, that allows for both employees to ask questions and receive immediate consistent answers. With the customer-facing dashboard, real-time data and usage results displayed, HR and IT leaders can ascertain the areas where employees had questions and make sure to address these areas in future communications. MeBeBot customers have gained valuable insights to their employees’ needs and can react quickly to ensure that leadership can take actions to reduce miscommunications or concerns.

Mergers and acquisitions are a complex process and can be a source of added stress and uncertainly for employees. Through careful planning and thoughtful guidance, organizational leaders can execute the essential change management tasks and aid in the success of the mergers and acquisition activity.

Read the case study of how MeBeBot helped E2open's employees through multiple acquisition