Get expert advice on every topic you need as a small business owner, from the ideation stage to your eventual exit. Our articles, quick tips, infographics and how-to guides can offer entrepreneurs the most up-to-date information they need to flourish.

Subscribe to our blog

The Employee Journey: How HR Can Improve the M&A Employee Experience

Posted by Devayani Bapat

March 10, 2024

During M&A, it’s crucial to keep the workforces of the companies merging informed.

We’ve all either experienced or heard of the tales of marriage. The union of two hearts intertwined in love, a fusion of souls destined for one another. Yet, it’s also the union of two families, two lives that must now harmonize and adapt from “you and I” to “us.” This transition, albeit romantic, definitely calls for some getting used to, much like the intricacies of a merger and acquisition.

Change, as they say, is the only constant. Yet, it can be intimidating, particularly in the corporate world of mergers and acquisitions. When such corporate maneuvers occur, employers often overlook a critical aspect: the satisfaction of their employees amidst the flux. The employee experience is often ignored and neglected in favor of enhancing a seamless transition for customers. The spotlight shifts to UI/UX, branding, and strategy while the employees clamor for equitable treatment. To uphold employee retention and foster a positive, cohesive work environment, HR must pivot its focus toward facilitating a smooth transition for incoming employees.

Schedule a call today

Before we explore the measures HR should implement to guarantee a smooth transition, let’s familiarize ourselves with the intricacies of mergers and acquisitions.

What is a merger and acquisition?

A merger and acquisition (M&A) occurs when two companies collaborate to become a single entity through various transactional methods. The most common type is an acquisition, which entails one company acquiring another and assuming ownership.

An anxiety spike:

Heightened levels of stress and anxiety often characterize the impact of an acquisition on employees from the acquired company. There’s a pervasive fear of uncertainty—the management structure is altered, familiar faces no longer make decisions, and the chance of potential layoffs or the loss of colleagues to the same looms large. Consequently, productivity dwindles, and motivation to perform diminishes. Nevertheless, as the saying goes, “The show must go on.” However, the journey need not be tedious; this is where HR assumes a critical role. Their task is to ensure a seamless transition, fostering an environment where employees can embrace the positive aspects of change.

Talk to us about how Escalon’s FinOps can help you gain financial insights to make informed decisions.


HR must rise to the challenge:

Indeed, the HR department can alleviate this discomfort and iron out the wrinkles of transition. Below are some initiatives they can undertake to ensure that the M&A culminates in a positive experience for the employee journey.

The leadership has changed, but trust needn’t waver:

Transparency in communication from top management concerning the M&A process is paramount. HR departments must maintain a consistent message regarding the vision and objectives behind the merger or acquisition. Leadership must showcase unwavering dedication to supporting employees throughout the transition period. The prompt and open attitude toward addressing employee concerns aids in instilling confidence in the leadership team’s decision-making abilities.

What will the change look like?

When M&A activities unfold, employees often grapple with uncertainties about the impending changes. To provide some direction, it’s essential that HR communicates the company’s post-M&A strategy with the utmost clarity and illuminates how each employee seamlessly integrates into the revised organizational structure. Although smaller organizations may navigate this process more smoothly, larger entities might encounter communication challenges. In such cases, leveraging tech-driven tools and rolling out a newsletter campaign or weekly presentations can bridge the gap, ensuring all teams and employees stay informed about forthcoming developments. Essential to this navigation is communicating actionable goals and milestones and seamlessly guiding employees through the transition. Further training and resources can also build a positive attitude toward newly assumed roles and responsibilities within the combined entity. Ultimately, aligning individual and team objectives with the broader organizational vision becomes instrumental in nurturing employee focus and motivation amidst the transition.

How do YOU feel?

HR needs to stay on top of the employee’s feelings. These feelings play an extremely pivotal role in shaping productivity and improving the work culture fostered after an M&A has gone through. In extending an invitation for employee feedback, it is essential to establish channels for open and honest communication, providing platforms where employees feel empowered to voice their concerns, suggestions, and feedback freely. Active listening becomes the protagonist in this complicated M&A screenplay. This becomes the weapon that helps apply constructive criticism in critical decision-making. Demonstrating responsiveness is crucial; promptly addressing employee concerns and transparently communicating changes based on feedback will help gain the workforce’s trust and confidence. Therefore, cultivating a culture of continuous improvement is integral, wherein employee insights are valued and acted upon to enhance the overall employee experience throughout the process.

A pat on the back

Apart from everything we’ve said earlier, another crucial factor that helps ease the process is a big pat on the back. This means HR must set up policies and processes that recognize and reward high performance within the workforce. It usually involves establishing clear performance metrics aligning with the company’s post-M&A objectives and core values to help develop an inclusive strategy that excites employees. Recognizing and celebrating achievements that significantly contribute to the success of the merged entity fosters a culture of appreciation and motivation. Substantial, result-oriented reward and recognition programs incentivize employees to excel during the transitional period. This also helps provide avenues for career advancement and development based on individual performance, reinforcing a culture of excellence within the new organization.

Last but not the least, Pulse Surveys:

Pulse surveys are a valuable tool for soliciting employee feedback. The HR department can gauge employee sentiment, concerns, and suggestions throughout the transition process by conducting regular pulse surveys. These surveys provide a platform for employees to express their thoughts openly and anonymously (anonymously being the operative word), fostering transparency and trust. Actively analyzing survey results enables HR to promptly identify and address emerging issues, demonstrating responsiveness to employee concerns. Moreover, pulse surveys facilitate continuous improvement by allowing the organization to adapt its strategies based on real-time feedback, ultimately enhancing the overall employee experience during the M&A.

In conclusion, HR departments must prioritize the well-being of employees within an organization undergoing acquisition to cultivate a positive and productive work culture. The department plays a pivotal role in achieving this objective by implementing measures to maximize efficiency and optimize return on investment. By focusing on employee satisfaction and engagement, HR can create a conducive work environment that fosters happiness and nurtures success.

Schedule a call today

Want to know more? Since 2006, Escalon has helped thousands of startups get off the ground with our back-office solutions for accounting, bookkeeping, taxes, HR, payroll, insurance, and recruiting — and we can help yours, too. Talk to an expert today.


Devayani Bapat
Devayani Bapat

With 6 years of experience in copywriting and social media management across genres, Devayani's heart lies with weaving words into stories and visuals into carefully crafted narratives that’ll keep you wanting more. She carries with her, her pocket notebook, a trusted confidante that goes with her wherever she goes, and scribbles down into it anecdotes on the go. Her secret weapon for keeping all things copy interesting! Apart from writing, Devayani is huge on travelling. You'll find her booking her next adventure while she's on her current one. And while on those adventures, you'll find her devouring true crime books one after the other. Whether it's a low down on a recent case or one that occurred 70 years ago, she can cook up a story narration you'll never forget.

We provide you with essential business services so you can focus on growth.