Blog

EAT OR EATEN: M&A AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

by | Mar 23, 2021

How mergers and acquisitions change the internal communications strategy

Fast growth brings great change to organizational cultures, and it generally puts pressure on effective internal communications. And when the growth comes through mergers, acquisition or being acquired by a larger company, it increases the pressure dramatically – or it at least increases the need to get out in front of the changes with communications.

Growth like this can present lots of fun and interesting opportunities for internal communications. Working to figure out the best strategies for integrating cultures and driving employee engagement can be a particularly rewarding challenge. But when the growth comes through acquisition, the challenges can come at you pretty darn quickly.

Driving engagement

At Tribe, we believe that employee engagement is primarily driven by a few factors: 1) being on board with what the company is all about, 2) feeling that the company treats employees well and 3) understanding how one’s particular role contributes to the company’s success.

And as we often say in these blogs, the main role of internal communications to align the day-to-day actions of employees with what leadership is trying to achieve – the vision.

Every employee plays a role in the company’s success

Our point of view at Tribe is that if a company hires well, it takes 100 percent of its employees to succeed in its vision. Therefore, every employee – every role – contributes to the company’s success in a tangible (and hopefully measurable) way. A key role of employee communications is to helping employees understand the importance of their role and what they should be focused on when they come to work.

When we’re thinking about employee engagement before or after a merger or acquisition, the math varies a bit based on whether a company is doing the acquiring or if it’s being acquired. So it’s an important time to reevaluate the audience matrix.

Clarifying new expectations

As an example, if you add a thousand employees in Germany, how does their contribution add to the success of the new company? And does their addition change the expectations for legacy employees in any way? Helping employees understand how the merger or acquisition supports leadership’s vision and how it might affect roles or expectations will be key in building or maintaining employee engagement.

If your company is being acquired by a larger company, the core issue is largely the same. Your employees may already know how they contribute to success of the pre-merger vision. But now you’ll have to figure out and communicate the benefits of being acquired and how roles and expectations change in this new reality.

By the way, sometimes the communications will be good news, and sometimes the communications will be less positive. Regardless, you can be sure that employees will be making decisions on how they feel about this new situation and whether they can trust their new leaders.

Best of both worlds

What’s really important is to remember that culture is a fluid thing. It can’t be imposed. The acquired company will not immediately take on your culture. In most cases, the reality of an acquisition is that there will be an evolved culture. The opportunity for your team (and the fun and the creativity) will be to figure out what’s great about your culture and what’s great about their culture. Then figure out the best of both worlds.

Interested in aligning new cultures in your organization? Tribe can help.

Subscribe to our internal communications blog