One of the most uncertain and unpredictable times in the lifespan of any company is during the process of a merger/acquisition. Whether two businesses are coming together or consolidating to develop one complete entity, M&As are always a challenging prospect. But in times of instability, even the most chaotic of companies can rely on intranets to restore order.
The process of going through a merger or acquisition often comes paired with a mix of feelings including uncertainty, fear, and excitement. These feelings are not only reserved for upper management but occur at every level of the organization, especially among employees.
M&As put an enormous strain on staff as the gravity of the impact leaves them with conflicting feelings of enthusiasm and resistance.These challenges provide even more incentive to create a single intranet platform to address many of the issues surrounding M&A, including but not limited to:
- Organizational silos
- The absence of a single company culture
- Lack of a consistent medium across organizations
- An increased/dispersed workforce
With statistics placing M&A success at a rather low percentage (70% to 90% of mergers fail) and retention rates suffering from the changes (the average acquired firm loses 40% of its managers during the first 24 months of the merger), organizations must work even harder to overcome the natural obstacles that come with this massive transformation.
To do this, deploying intranet technology is the best way to meet the needs of merging organizations and its workforce. Here are a few ways an intranet can support you through your M&A.
1. Break down silos
During a merger, the divide between current and new staff is to be expected. It may start out as simple as slight tension between strangers and later develop into entirely siloed teams supported by different internal communications strategies.
It is imperative to promote employee communications, especially during M&A. Deploying an intranet is a great way to strengthen these social ties within your workforce and ensure that a unified message is delivered to all.
A social intranet software successfully removes the conflict-driven “us vs. them mindset” and fosters an atmosphere of collaboration and communication in the workforce.
Your intranet software provides key benefits that support integration and makes the human and cultural aspects of M&A easier including:
- Team Spaces that break down silos and simplify group collaboration by providing team spaces on the intranet for groups with common interests or related hobbies.
- People Directory promotes collaboration by helping employees find each other through a variety of criteria including searching by expertise or department
- Integrations with major instant messaging platforms that help remove the barriers of familiarity and give users the ability to communicate and collaborate in real-time from within the intranet
- Ability to follow and @mention colleagues provides feedback on intranet posts and bring others into the conversation. It’s easy for employees to following the activity of anyone in the organization, not just those in their team.
- Rewards system as a peer-to-peer recognition tool that allows users to award points to a colleague acknowledging great work or just as a more open way of saying thanks.
Customer Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) utilized Interact technology on their intranet after merging Notting Hill Housing (NHH) and Genesis Housing Association earlier this year. Upon joining, employees rarely used the legacy intranet, reinforcing the silo working culture, and information was often duplicated.
In response to these challenges, Notting Hill Genesis implemented Interact technology to create their intranet, Hive. They created used features like their ‘Take the Hive tour’ prepped with ten handy top tips to get staff started on Hive including how to set up their profile, search people directory, follow colleagues and join groups they may be interested in.
Hive successfully improved collaboration among employees by making staff members feel more comfortable introducing themselves to other colleagues, celebrating the diversity of their staff and giving more insight into colleague’s work lives.
With a consistent availability and ease of access from any location or time zone, intranets allow for a deeper engagement and encourage further participation in the life of the company and its employees.
2. Increase brand awareness and prevent culture clash
During a merger or acquisition, there is no doubt that integration is the key to a successful process, but the combination of two separate corporate cultures is not always as seamless as one may expect.
Whether two organizations are joining under one banner or going through an entire redefinition, there is going to be a significant impact on the organization’s brand.
According to a study by Marsh Mercer Kroll, 50% of respondents cited “organizational cultural differences” as the most significant post-deal issue they faced. There are numerous reasons why cultures clash, but the first step is to define the culture.
What is the communication style? What procedural methods are in place? What is the company vision? The organizational goals?
(When two organizations unite, there are going to be inevitable differences or even potential conflicts in culture, vision, and internal brand or communication styles. Defining the new approach and communicating it effectively is vital to get employees on board.)
As with employees, the values of two individual entities are hard to mold together, even if they may be similar. The values of the company are adopted alongside all their benefits and challenges.
It will take time for new employees to adjust to the new culture fully, but utilizing an intranet will make for a much smoother process and spread the re-envisioned company brand to all internally.
The best practice for enforcing the company brand into new and current employees is through the use of blogs, employee stories, C-suite videos, etc. This content shared via the intranet is an easy way to share the history of the combined companies as well as help mold an understanding of how the future of the organization will unfold.
Another tool to make use of is your company intranet homepage. Because of its high visibility, it is the perfect place to highlight the company values and vision to all employees. Monthly CEO blogs, employee recognition posts, currents company gains and news all work in tandem to reinforce the message of any newly merged organization.
3. Give easy access to information
One thing that must be carefully monitored during M&A is the flow of information. With so many changes occurring at once it is only natural that people talk, and without knowing any legitimate information, rumors and speculation tends to run rampant.
For companies in this constant state of flux, providing simple and easy access to any information revolving around these corporate changes should take priority. Full-fledged transparency is the best way to ensure employees feel reassured about the M&A process as well as boost their sense of control and stability.
An intranet is a major asset in centralizing employee communication and delivering relevant information in a highly engaging way. One must begin with the consolidation of pertinent documentation, forms, and processes.
Updating useful information from both organizations into a single primary intranet and using Forms and Workflows to ensure that standard methods are understood and followed will be beneficial for the information migration.
The most important thing to remember is not to attempt a merge of existing intranets and risk employee information being lost on different systems. If you want true success, create an intranet that will grow and evolve alongside the merger.
4. Give employees a voice
Providing your employees with access to current and ongoing information is necessary and effective during any M&A. But what about the thoughts and need of the staff? Communication should never be a one-way street, and during a merger or acquisition, the views of your employees are critical to organizational success.
Rather than solely focusing on corporate communications, why not give employees a chance to share their voices, ask management relevant questions regarding the change, and engage and share with their colleagues.
Social tools via your intranet can open up communication from both the top and bottom as well as support communication across teams and other locations. Developing a group that supports and shares with one another can establish a much-needed sense of community for a newly merged organization and will add value for both employee and management.
Mattress Firm and their intranet BEDpost is a great example of the power of two-way feedback.
After experiencing rapid growth through acquisition, Mattress Firm inherited three separate intranet platforms, each with its own share of not only resources but also challenges. An official intranet had yet to be developed, and the multiple systems only served to reinforce a silo culture in the organization.
With the hope of creating a unified front, providing a space for employees to engage with the organization, and to help instill a collective sense of culture, Mattress Firm employed Interact’s Forums to create the Gr8 Ideas forum.
These discussion boards were designed to encourage collaborative idea sharing and give employees a chance to submit ideas for everything from process and product improvements, to “how to” advice and cheat sheets. Success was almost instantaneous with more than 252 threads created and 8,556 visits to GR8 Ideas section reported in the first six months of launch.
(Gr8 Ideas forum saw over 250 threads created within six months of going live)
Thanks to forums and discussion boards, employees inhibited by or resistant to the growth of the organization through acquisition have an opportunity to express their fears and doubts and ultimately receive a solution.
There are a lot of ways to smooth out the transition process of your merger/acquisition, and your intranet is one of the most critical tools in achieving success.
A social intranet equipped with the right features, collaborative functionality, and brand messaging will deliver real productivity gains, enforce your corporate culture and fully support a merged company in the midst of this substantial organizational change.