Focus on HR - Post Merger Tips for Successful Staff Integration

By Hedley Lawson, Jr.
Integrating staff after your lab has been acquired may be more of an art than a science. Successful lab integration depends heavily on awareness of what the staff’s concerns, feelings, and challenges are, and on communication. Positive progress in other more “technical” integration areas, such as purchasing, production, inventory control, finance, HR, marketing and sales, IT and other key areas can often lead to improved employee morale and a greater sense of teamwork among individuals from different pre-merger organizations. That said, the organization’s leaders can do several things to make staff integration go more smoothly. Here are but a few key people issues you can consider in the event your lab is acquired:

· Address employee concerns

· Communicate early and often

· Work to align organizational and employee interests

· Clarify new roles

Address employee concerns The list of questions most employees want to know most about should come as no surprise.

1. What’s my job and role

2. Will my job title change

3. Who will be my boss

4. Will I be a part of a new team

5. Will my office change

6. Will my compensation change

7. Will there be a change in my benefits

8. How will this change affect my career or my future in the company

The human resources group, integration team and organizational leadership should be capable of providing leadership and integration expertise to alleviate these issues before they arise. How can this be achieved?

Communicate early and often If you do not keep employees informed of impending changes, they will make up interpretations on their own, and these interpretations will seldom be completely accurate or positive. Even when you do a stellar job of keeping people informed—communicating consistently the latest information from the integration team—you still have to create processes for clarification and response to questions. As an “insider” to the integration process, what may seem obvious or clear to you may be quite obscure or confusing to an employee. Therefore, you must put in place consistent and frequent communications processes that allow employees to know what is transpiring with the integration as well as provide a forum to air concerns to leadership, ask questions, and question rumors.

Work to align organizational and employee interests

Historically, organizations often make one of two major mistakes: ignoring the needs, requirements, and perceptions of staff members; or making those same needs, requirements, and perceptions the defining factor in leadership decisions. It is important to balance the needs and concerns of staff with the needs and requirements of the organization. The next question is how those staff-defined concerns stack up against your sense of the organization’s needs. For example, staff may believe very strongly that the great retirement plan or insurance benefits offered by the acquiring company should be continued and extended to everyone in the newly acquired company.

Clarify new roles

Many roles change following a business transaction. The role transitions that occur need to be made specific and clear to affected employees. Changes to roles are best communicated individually, beginning in the early stages of integration. While each person’s role may be quite clear in your mind as a leader of or participant on the integration team, it is quite possible that it is less than perfectly clear in the mind of other employees.

A few basic ways individual roles change post-merger include:

· Reporting relationships. Each person may have a different overall role in the reporting structure post-merger.

· Function. The actual work done by an employee may change, either slightly or entirely, post-merger.

· Accountability and authority. As an organization changes, it is not uncommon for people to be asked to take on additional authority.

In each of these areas, it is important to tell the affected employee what to expect in the new organization. Greater independence may be a relief, but not if it is perceived simply as neglect.


Labtalk June 2020