Remembering your people amidst mergers and acquisitions

The merge between Nine and Fairfax has been at the forefront of many people’s minds over the last few weeks. Of course, only time will tell if the merger is successful – a good merger is dependent on so many factors, only the very best survive.

In fact, according to a KPMG study 83% of mergers fail. There are plenty of reasons why mergers fail – financial factors, undue diligence or even just a failure to foresee how two organisations might not gel together in the future (even if it seems perfect now). One of the biggest factors in merger failures, however, is the failure to look after the people in both organisations throughout the merger.

Your employees are important

People are your most valuable resource – they’re the powerhouse of your organisation.When everything is operating as it should, your people have the power to transform your organisation for the better, but when there’s a disconnect or things aren’t quite going to plan, people also have the power to bring down your organisation, right in front of your eyes.

We see it most commonly amidst mergers; people in both organisations can feel overlooked, undervalued or left out of the loop while those in the C-suite are more focused on the financials. It’s this disconnect that causes many employees to start to either feel apathetic to the new missions and goals of the merged organisation or actively work against them. This unrest can be fatal for any organisation.

So, what can you do about it?

Every organisation, whether they’re going through a merger or not, needs to keep their employees informed, engaged and motivated. Engagement fosters loyalty and it’s loyalty that will keep your employees on top of things if your organisation ever does go through a merger or acquisition.

During a merger or acquisition, it’s even more important to keep the dialogue open so that employees feel valued and informed throughout the process. We’re including two approaches to keeping that dialogue open and active.

  • Use key influencers

It’s difficult for leaders to speak to everyone in the organisation simultaneously. It is possible but sometimes, it’s impractical. Instead, finding those employees who are natural leaders – sometimes this means they are already in positions of leaderships but other times, they may just be the people to whom other members of your team listen.

It’s important to seek these people out – identify them and have regular discussions with them to take the temperature of the organisation. They have ears on the ground and other employees will feel comfortable voicing concerns to them that they may not want to share with those at the head of the organisation. They are also in a great position to effectively share any new missions and goals that the organisation has after a merger. Naturally things shift and it will take a while for everyone to adjust; having people strategically placed means that they are able to disseminate information effectively.

  1. The town hall meeting

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a meeting where everyone gets together and discusses the ups and downs of how the merger or acquisition is being handled so far. Creating a platform like this where employees are able to voice their concerns, share their challenges and hear the solutions and new vision from the management team means that the dialogue is completely two-way.

Town hall meetings are the perfect opportunity to get your employees to contribute to a situational analysis. Make sure everyone is aware of the meeting beforehand so that no one is excluded and give them notice that they will have the opportunity to share their opinions. Give them the chance to tell you:

  • The things that are working well so far
  • The things that aren’t working
  • Any challenges they have come up against and how they have worked through them
  • Any suggestions for improvements

There are countless number of reasons why mergers and acquisitions are deemed necessary, but, no matter the size of the merger or how it is approached, your people are the biggest asset right throughout the process. Giving them a voice is imperative or else you run the risk of losing them.


Greg Weiss is one of Australia’s most renowned career coaches. He is the author of “So You Got A Job, WTF Is Next”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7 step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at

He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.

Greg also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.

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