Employee FAQ's for Acquisition

Rick Bigelow's Profile

Common Employee Questions During Acquisition

Does anyone have a template of FAQ's that can be used in addressing employee questions after an acquisition?  I cannot locate the list I formulated years ago.

Any assistance will be of great help. Regards... Rick


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The time to address employee questions is before the acquisition. The acquiring company should be willing to hear employees of the target company from the outset because it is a highly stressful time for them. If questions are not invited and answered forthrightly and honestly, talent will look for the exit before the deal is inked and rumors will fill the vacuum left by the lack of information. One of the best indicators of whether an acquisition will be successful is how well the pre-acquisition employee process is handled.

With that in mind, the range of questions is too large to put on paper. If, on the other hand, you're referring to more technical questions such as how to transfer benefits, that is as much a matter of pre-acquisition due-diligence as post-acquisition management.

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I agree, Douglas

Having been part of a number of mergers and acquisitions (on both sides of those transactions), I recognize that the success or failure is often dependent on how well this is done.

I think the process starts as soon as a letter of intent is signed, or as soon as it is permissible to go public with the planned transaction -- and it is critical to win over the employees of the acquired company as soon as possible.

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Rick, you might want to check out this free whitepaper on this very topic:

"Guide to Mergers & Acquisitions: Frequently Asked Questions"

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These questions may help. Obviously, the answers depend on the acquisition and how it's being handledm, so these are only questions:

-Who is acquiring us?
-What do they do and how do they do it?
-Why are they acquiring us?
-What will happen to my job?
-What will happen to my department or project?
-What will happen to my stock (options)?
-What will happen to my other compensation?
-What is the compensation structure at the acquiring company?
-What will happen to our benefits (health, 401k, etc.)?
-What will happen to my PTO/Vacation time?
-How does the acquiring company handle PTO/Vacation/Sick pay?
-Who will my boss be?
-Will our office move?
-Will I have to move?
-How are employees measured and rewarded at the acquiring company?
-What will happen to our current leadership?

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I realize that providing a FAQ is helpful communication to employees, but I would also advocate not depriving them of the chance to actually ask about some of the things that would show up on the FAQ. The question and response activity helps to solidify the employee relationship, and the responsiveness is a great way to demoonstrate management credibiity.

Topic Expert
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Rick.....all are great suggestions.

If possible - you can set up a system wherein the employees can ask the questions anonymously to the senior management. This process can be as simple as setting up a drop box as employees might fear that they might be tracked down if submitting the questions on the web.

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Sunil - Great point...though we can always get their fingerprints that way! :)

Kidding aside, some people will not mind being public with their questions, and others will. Sometimes using a third party site can provide the required anonymity buffer, though from the company perspective it needs to pass any security / confidentiality concerns.

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Mergers and acquisitions are often like Rorschach tests - they can be interpreted in many different ways by employees.... many of those interpretations are not a plus for the organization unless proactive steps are taken.

With that in mind, I would resist the temptation to over do it. Be as honest as possible, even if not all of it is absolutely good news.

Employees are not children and know when they are being aggressively soothed. Expansive claims about how essentially nothing bad will happen, sound worse than a more realistic approach.

For instance, if duties, methods and responsibilities will be changing, admit that employees will be asked to do things differently. Being told to expect to be asked to do things differently is better than "nothing much will change" or just a communication void.

If possible, try to give some examples of known changes. This will help fill in the void. The known is better than the fear of the unknown.