How your intranet can streamline merger and acquisitions in the remote work era

After an initial nosedive at the start of 2020, global M&A activity has bounced back. With this resurgence comes new opportunities for growth that may help enterprises build back better. But is your organization prepared to navigate the reoccurring cultural challenges that can threaten to undermine any new deal?

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Looking to M&A for post-pandemic recovery

2020 was a roller coaster for M&A activity. During the first 6 months, lockdowns put many deals on ice. Yet, mergers came back with a bang, starting with a record-breaking third quarter that saw more than $1t worth of global transactions.

What caused such a rapid turnaround? Efforts to transform and thrive in the post-pandemic world are a significant catalyst. The rise in non-traditional deals like cross-sector alliances and bids for sustainable technologies indicate that many leaders are looking to the future. More than one fourth of CFOs plan on using M&A to rebuild and enhance their company’s revenue streams.

Encountering an old challenge in the new world of work

From home offices to virtual conferences, the world of work has changed rapidly. Yet, when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, the most pressing challenge stayed the same. Employee engagement often plummets after a new deal, so much so that it has earned its own name: Merger Syndrome.

Given the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding such a major change, mergers often lead to a rise in turnover. 1 in 5 employees voluntarily resign following the announcement of a merger. To make matters worse, M&A activity is linked with a 23% increase in actively disengaged employees.

Unfortunately, employees may be particularly susceptible to Merger Syndrome now, during a time when disengagement and workplace stress are on the rise. 58% of employees currently report feeling burnt out and more than one third say it is attributable to the pandemic. Between dispersed workplaces and heightened uncertainty, is it even possible to keep your employees engaged during a merger?

Turning to digital solutions in the digital age

The success of remote work hinges on digital technology. In response to COVID-19 and the mass transition to telecommuting, more than 40% of enterprises have expedited their move to the cloud. Many organizations are already seeing the benefits, with 82% of leaders noting that cloud-based collaboration tools help businesses execute faster and better than would be possible otherwise.

The same technology that eased the transition to remote work will help employees navigate the changes that occur during a merger. However, your employees need more than a handful of disparate tools designed to boost productivity and streamline collaboration. Particularly during a merger, your workforce is looking for a single source of truth and a gateway to the systems and information they need, which is exactly where your intranet software comes in.

5 tips for using your intranet to navigate a merger

Organizational change is never simple, but it is possible to keep your employees engaged throughout this uncertain time. From centralizing data to communicating key updates, your enterprise intranet software can play a central role in helping your enterprise navigate a merger. Consider the following insights for a smooth transition:

#1. Create a shared space

With so many other tools in competition and transition, make your digital employee experience a point of stability. Robust employee experience platforms can bring people together in one system, no matter what technology they are using to login with.

The first step in uniting your people is to give them a shared digital space. Once this has been achieved, consider providing a digital launchpad that is tailored to your different audiences. With new tools coming in and old tools on their way out, keeping track of all those links can be a nightmare productivity drain for your people. A simple thing like personal quick links can help manage this mayhem.

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Case Study

dormakaba — Nielsen Norman Best Intranet 2016

Discover how dormakaba navigated a global merger using their intranet to seamlessly merge two cultures into one.

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#2. Emphasize transparency

Without adequate information about the changes they are going to encounter, your employees will come to their own conclusions, which often means imagining the worst. Prevent the rumor mill from spinning out of control by keeping employees updated about the merger from early on.

Your intranet can serve as every user’s one-stop shop for information about the transition. Use mandatory content reads to ensure your entire workforce reads critical updates by a designated date. Include messaging from senior leadership so that employees can hear about upcoming changes straight from the source.

#3. Forget the 'us versus them' mindset

An “us versus them” mentality can spell disaster during M&A. Your current employees and their new team members need to work together and get on the same page as quickly as possible if you want your merger to be successful.

The remote work era adds another layer to this challenge. Your employees won’t be able to bond with their new colleagues over shared drinks or get to know each other during traditional team building activities.

Instead, you can utilize social networking capabilities to turn your intranet into a virtual water cooler. Launch social channels on a variety of topics to give team members to a platform to connect with colleagues over shared interests. Encourage your employees to update their user profiles with a photo and information about their background and hobbies so that their colleagues can build a more personal connection with the new faces they will be working with.

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#4. Prevent a culture clash

Integration is key to successful M&As, and your culture is no exception. This is often one of the biggest challenges during a transition, with 50% of respondents citing “organizational cultural differences” as the most significant post-deal issue they faced.

When two organizations merge into one, there are going to be inevitable differences in how you approach work and the ways you get things done. The only way to get everyone on board is by creating a new strategy that brings the best of both worlds into your organization. Use blog and video content to share the history of your combined organizations and demonstrate the values you will share going forward.

#5. Prioritize two-way comms

With so many changes occurring at once, some employees may feel like they have no voice in the direction your organization is heading towards. Given that employees who feel heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to perform to the best of their abilities, it’s in every leaders’ interest to prioritize two-way communications.

Take advantage of suggestion boxes and feedback forms to give your workforce the opportunity to share their insights about your transition. Monitor employee sentiment by using your intranet to send out pulse surveys, which can help leaders assess engagement levels during and after their merger.

Are you ready to upgrade engagement during your next merger?

There’s no doubt that the transitional period during M&A activity can prove challenging. However, leaders can minimize growing pains and keep employees aligned by launching a next-gen intranet that will serve as every user’s single source of truth. If you’re interested in debuting a new solution to help your workforce navigate a merger, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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