Got a Merger Going: Watch Out for These HR Issues

Published: Mar 10, 2009

 Workplace Issues       
Experts point out that during a merger or acquisition, human resources professionals should be involved before, during, and after the transaction. HR systems must be aligned, integrated, and differentiated. Research has demonstrated that mergers for companieswhose HR practices are fully integrated run smoother and employees remain happier during any changeover.<p><strong>Audit systems before the merger</strong></p><p>Selection, performance management and measurement, training and development, and compensation and benefits practices must all fit together to create a whole that is aligned with the new organization's goals. Audits of the HR systems prior to the merger can help identify any unrecognized problems or liabilities. The goal, of course, is to align the HR practices with the new business strategy. HR managers that fail to do enough due diligence beforethe merger will belatedly discover all sorts of problems. For example, are benefits or payroll structure radically different? Will software systems be compatible -and if not - which one will prevail?</p><p><strong>Areas that HR should concentrate on during mergers include:</strong></p><p>- retention of critical talent and key executives,</p><p>-blending of corporate cultures,</p><p>- integrating compensation and benefits differences,</p><p>-team building,</p><p>- downsizing and redeployment,</p><p>-and resistance from labor.</p><p>Corporate mergers fail at alarming rates. What seem to be soft issues, like aligning corporate cultures, can sink a promising merger just as thoroughly as any financial tussle. HR managers should be prepared to take the initiative at the earliest discussions in proposed mergers to minimize the risk of failure.</p>