Post-Merger Integration: What HR Needs to Consider

February 11, 2019 by Josh Hrala

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During any merger, there are a lot of moving parts that need to be accounted for. However, one of the biggest pitfalls of the event comes after it has happened, during the actual merging of the two businesses, which is commonly referred to as ‘post-merger integration.’

Basically, HR has a huge task ahead of them to bring two completely different workforces together in a way that will thrive long into the future. This means that if things do not start out on the right foot, the teams may never fully mesh, causing an increase in turnover, the loss of key talent, and – if things are never addressed – the downfall of the entire business move.

So what does HR need to consider when coming up with a post-merger integration plan?

This is the question we will explore here today. Also, if you’d like to get a sample post-merger integration checklist, you can download ours here:

post-acquisition integration checklist

First, What Is Post-Merger Integration?

Post-merger integration is the act of combining both organizations together under one banner. As you can probably guess, this process can be extremely complicated because there are tons of roles, teams, managers, contractors, and others working at both organizations.

By integrating preexisting teams and creating a new, stronger one, your business will hopefully receive a boost. On the other hand, like we mentioned above, failing to integrate teams properly is a big reason why these sorts of business moves fall short of their goals.

Given that the stakes are rather high, it makes sense to have what you need written down in advance so you can use it when you need it. Proper planning goes a long way in situations like this so don’t try to skip it.

What You Need to Cover During Post-Integration

Like we briefly mentioned above, the best way to handle post-merger integration is by using a post-merger integration checklist.

A checklist can seriously help you stay on track during these trying times. Without a proper plan on paper, it can be hard to hit every single goal you want.

Post-Merger Integration

The best way to think about creating your checklist is to break it down into sections, which is what we’ll do here so it’s easier to think about.

The first part of the checklist is all about hiring processes with the first item on the list being the development of a new hiring process for both the short term (for your immediate needs) and the long term (for your overall strategy).

You also need to note the things you’ll need to actually integrate these new hires by creating documents such as, onboarding documentation, benefits overviews, and new-hire packets. Remember, the name of the game here is to ensure that those joining your team will be ready and able to perform their jobs without a bunch of friction.

You’ll also need to develop compensation packages and benefits plans if they are changing during the merger or acquisition.

This section can look something like this:

  • Develop a new hiring process
  • Short term for immediate needs
  • Long term for overall strategy
  • Prepare for new hires
  • Onboarding documentation
  • Benefits overview packets
  • New hire packets
  • Create a plan for onboarding union workers if need be (reach out to unions for assistance here)

From there, you need to examine your current workforce to see if there are any redundancies inside your organization.

Post-Merger Integration: Redundancies

It’s a sad fact that mergers and acquisitions cause a ton of redundancies. It’s just the nature of the move. You have to be able to clearly identity which departments have these redundancies and develop a clear system to start offboarding them or moving them to different roles.

This means that you will likely have to deal with a lot of turnover in the first few months of the merger. You will likely have employees that will leave on their own terms, redundant workers than no longer have a role, and other reduction events that will pop up.

Post-Merger Integration

At the same time, you need to retain key talent to help the business move meet it’s goals. For this, we recommend using a retention bonus, which you can read about here.

So, when it comes to this section of the post-merger integration plan, you need to cover these specific things:

  • Identify and make a plan to eliminate redundancies
  • Prepare severance documents and outplacement support
  • File WARN Act notice if needed
  • Perform your downsizing event

You may also need further documents to handle these reductions. You can find a bunch of reduction resources here. And you can download our layoff resources here:

Download Our Layoff Script Here! Download Our Guide To Improving Severance Agreements!

Post-Merger Integration: The Org Chart, IT, and More

While the obvious role of HR in this process is to handle the actual integration of teams while paying close attention to corporate culture clashes a long the way, they also need to do some administrative work when it comes to org charts and general data-keeping so that the business is lean and has a clear chain of command.

You’ll also have to work closely with IT so that all of the systems that are in use have the proper people onboarded to them.

For example, your IT team will likely have to onboard a ton of people into the different systems that your business uses, such as creating new email accounts, giving proper security access, and things of that nature.

This is a simple section of the post-merger integration plan, but it’s very important if you want the merger or acquisition to go well. It can look, simply, like this:

  • Develop new org chart
  • Partner with key IT stakeholders to create a process and timeline for merging HR systems (and others that need to be added for employees)

Post-Merger Integration Checklist: Part Four, Performance and Communication

Again, one of the most important tasks HR has is to make sure that the integration is running smoothly. And for this to work out, you need to have clear performance goals on the books so that the teams understand their responsibilities, who their manager is, and what is expected of them.

This will seriously help your teams get back to working at full capacity.

The first thing you need to come up with is a review process. This could be using KPIs or other performance metrics – it largely depends on how your business operates.

For new hires or people in new roles, you’ll also need to have a plan to train and develop them so that they can completely perform their new roles. Without training, how are people supposed to meet their goals and deadlines? Again, this is something that is specific to your organization and you will have to meet with teams and leaders to understand what needs to be done.

Post-Merger Integration

Finally, you need to make sure you have a way to communicate to your staff members in a way that they will notice. Create a communicate pipeline so that you can quickly get the word out about HR changes and things of that nature.

Poor communication is a giant problem when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, attributing largely to the failure rate of the business move. By communicating efficiently with your staff and keeping them in the loop, you will likely retain those you need to retain without a bunch of headaches. No one likes being kept in the dark.

This section of the post-merger integration checklist can look something like this:

  • Create a performance review system
  • Create a training and development plan
  • Develop a communication plan for communicating all HR policy changes to employees and stakeholders

Post-Merger Integration: Putting It All Together

A post-merger integration plan should address every aspect of the integration of two separate companies under one new banner. This involves working on the corporate culture of both, understanding the staffing issues that may come up, and many other things.

To help you fully understand your post-merger integration plan, you should consider using a checklist to keep yourself on track.

You can download our post-merger integration checklist here:

post-acquisition integration checklist
Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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