How To Thrive During a Merger or Acquisition

If a merger or acquisition is on your horizon, prepare for one of the most challenging times in your HR career.

Not only will you encounter competing cultures and potentially conflicting management styles, you will likely be working with incompatible Human Capital Management (HCM) systems.

This makes it tricky when you need to get an accurate, single inventory of all the people and determine new roles, compensation levels and titles. Executives will also need to understand how much the new combination of talent will cost -- not an easy task when the data is floating around in several different places.

Here are tips that will help you thrive during the situation, and emerge as a trusted partner to your (current AND future) senior executive team:


During a merger or acquisition, any analysis of the combined workforces is typically handled using spreadsheets. However, several studies have revealed that 9 out of 10 spreadsheets contain errors, sometimes injected by people trying to make something look better than the reality.

Before day one of the merger/acquisition, choose a solution that can integrate data from incompatible systems (and other related sources) and will provide HR, Finance and other users with a single version of the truth. Just as you will need to create synergy between teams, you will need to get data from multiple systems to work together. This will make it easier to perform key tasks, such as identifying top talent employees who are critical to continue to operate the acquired and combined business operations.


A merger or acquisition is a high stakes game -- executives are expected by shareholders to generate high returns from this type of investment. This is where an accurate view of your combined organizations’ accurate Total Cost of Workforce (TCOW), the planned future workforce costs, and the optimized models that outline the path from today to the desired future outcome will be crucial. When HR can access a TCOW, it gains a complete view into what is driving talent costs and can plan more accurately for the future. Critically, it puts HR in the position of having the facts to support the talent needs of the combined organization when these issues are debated with Finance and the C-suite.

M&A: Your Problem or Opportunity?

By following the above suggestions during a merger or acquisition, you will be in a better position to translate people resources into an accurate view of costs and cost projections, or conversely, be able to optimize people resources within the available budgets. This will make you a vital contributor to the complex M&A integration process.

Moreover, there will no longer be a debate as to whose numbers are right. If the workforce data comes from the very current record of everyone who is on board and every open position in the firm, along with the attendant compensation and benefits, HR can draw a picture of both talent and cost implications to deliver a unique, business-linked point of view.



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