Positive Employee Experience is Key to Successful M&A

Employee experience is one of the most important aspects of a deal and yet, often overlooked. After the deal is done and most employees have left, people ask the question; what did they do wrong. Key people leaving your company can destroy the overall value of the deal. Focusing on employee experience is in your best interest if you want to retain your employees and the value of your acquired company. Educating us how to achieve a positive employee experience are:

  • Cole Breidenbach- Head of M&A Integration at Okta
  • Josh Olson- Head of solution sales at the Americas at VMware
  • Amy Gannaway- Vice President, Global Compensation, Benefits and HRIS at VMware
"The powerful combination of technology and then leading with trust and inclusion. That together is where all the magic happens and where true value is created." - Amy Gannaway.

Setting the Tone for Trust

Most of the time, employees feel powerless when they are acquired. They do not get to choose who they want to work for, and frequently, they have no idea who the acquiring company is. Getting employees' trust is crucial if you're going to retain these people. 

To gain people's trust, transparency is vital. Be upfront about your plans for the company and discuss what will happen to their pay and benefits. Also, walk them through what they should be expecting after the transition. If you can't assure the company's future and their job security, they will become disengaged. Your main goal is to calm everyone's nerves as they are probably scared, shocked, and stressed. 

Tools integration

"Employee experience is so much bigger than technology, but it's a technology that enables so much of it." - Josh Olson.

As you are trying to introduce new systems, technologies, and tools to the acquired company, it is essential to show empathy. You have to understand that these people are going through massive changes that are affecting their lives. Try not to force your tools on day one. Instead, give them time to adjust to their new reality and get comfortable with it. 

It doesn't make sense to force your tools on day one, rock the boat even more, and risk the employees leaving. Let them use their tools for a while, so they are more productive and get that sense of importance and purpose in your company. You can consolidate your tools later on. 

Human Interaction

Don't forget the power of human interaction. Have 1-on-1 meetings or conversations as much as you can. Get to know the person and understand what their challenges are and their perceptions. 

It is also highly beneficial to connect with an internal leader in the acquired company. It will extend that trust to their entire team because they will represent you in a different light. A message coming from someone they trust is louder than a company that just acquired them. 

Onboarding Process  

Even though the employees have been a part of the company for a long time, you have to consider them new hires. You need to execute a thoughtful onboarding process and make them feel valued and wanted. Speak in their language to make sure that your message resonates with your people. 

Be inclusive in your approach and talk about what are the programs and the timelines that are important to your company; whether it's HR things, product team, or sales team, talk about the purpose of everything. 

Also, don't just force one way of doing it. Instead, give the acquired leadership and team a platform to tell their stories. Let them tell their values and what matters to them. You will learn a lot from them just by listening. 

Conclusion

A positive employee experience is crucial in keeping the employees of the target company. You need to build trust by being transparent from the beginning, be empathic during integration, and thoughtful in the onboarding process.

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