Mergers and acquisitions can be exciting to deal partners. Your staff, however, may see a merger as little more than a threat to their job. There’s good reason for them to feel this way. Mergers and acquisitions frequently require trimming the fat, identifying who really brings value, and getting rid of role redundancies. So what if you have to lay people off? Here’s how to handle it in a way that doesn’t alienate other workers or undermine the deal as you move to sell a business.
Evaluate Every Position
Many companies make the mistake of taking an across-the-board approach to terminations. They’ll fire everyone who falls below a certain threshold on the corporate hierarchy, or who didn’t hit certain benchmarks or goals. But often, the most important people in your company have positions that don’t reflect that importance. So before announcing layoffs, it’s important to critically evaluate each and every position. Consider the following questions:
Give as Much Notice as Possible
No matter how you feel about each individual employee, the way they feel about their termination can affect your brand reputation, and ultimately the merger itself. Your goal should be to be kind by giving them as much notice as possible. If you know there may be layoffs, you can let your team know early. And once you have a list of whose job is on the chopping block, tell them as early as is practical. This allows them time to search for a new job, which may actually open new space in your budget earlier.
No one wants to work for a stingy employer who mistreats their staff. And a group of angry ex-staff never look great in media coverage of a merger. The more you can do to help your departing staff have a soft landing, the better. Offer a good reference (if it is warranted), a fair severance package, and a kind approach to termination.
Don’t forget about the team members who are staying, though. A generous approach with them is critical to the survival of the merger. Incentivize key players with a compensation package if they stay for a set period of time. And make sure that the people you need most know that their jobs are secure. You can up the ante even further by asking what, if anything, you can do to improve their working environment.
Communicate Openly With Everyone Else
A solid communication plan is integral to a merger or acquisition. If you don’t communicate with key stakeholders, the rumor mill will happily do it for you. So develop a communication plan that progressively unveils all key data points as early as possible. Regular town halls, one-on-ones, and an open approach to communication can help ease minds and buy team loyalty as you transition to this next chapter.