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Mergers and acquisitions are common in today’s global marketplace. They are a way for companies to acquire technologies or products, improve profits and productivity, while reducing overall expenses. They may not allow for long adjustment periods, however, so the best approach is to plan. Your overall organizational plan should include all areas which are bound to impact your workforce, including staffing, communication, training, and customer relationships, just to name a few.

Employees and staffing: When corporations merge, there are usually instances of redundancy. In these cases, redundancy can lead to lay–offs, or may require shifting roles of your employees. While lay–offs most often cannot be avoided, reducing uncertainty amongst employees is best. Those employees that are being laid off should be told immediately and be provided with severance packages, if possible, and most importantly treated in a respectful manner.

Remaining employees should have clear guidelines on their role within the new organization, and a development plan that will help them adjust to subsequent changes.

Focus on training: All employees should be made aware of new processes, policies and procedures that result from the merger. This will require a training plan, which may include making employees familiar with everything from processes for submitting purchase orders and new reporting procedures, all the way up to new technology platforms.

Your training plan can include one–on–one training seminars with an instructor, web–based training such as webinars, or newly developed or revised training guides.

Prepare employees for a culture shift: The culture of the organization is bound to be impacted, and this may negatively affect the morale of your employees. The uncertainty can lead good employees to seek employment with competitors, or other employees to take on an unmotivated attitude. Either scenario can lead to disruption in the workforce.

Communicate as openly as possible, and provide employees with the vision and mission for the new organization as early as you can. Mapping out the changes that will occur in a clear manner keeps employees informed, reduces uncertainty, and minimizes the disruptions. It may even help them view the changes as positive.

Motivate your employees during this difficult time. While a merger and acquisition is not the most optimal time for employees, there are ways to increase motivation and productivity. Be sure to set aside time for employees if they wish to discuss concerns or issues with the new merger; open discussions usually prevent confusion about roles and responsibilities. Recognize and reward employees for their roles in managing change. Rewards do not always have to be in the form of bonuses, but can be small gifts, or recognition among peers.

Lastly, and most importantly, set aside time so that all employees – in the old organization and the new – have the opportunity to connect with each other. This can be in the form of company–wide meetings, smaller social gatherings, or encouraging employees with shared interests to start groups to foster team building, such as a baseball team or reading club.

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