3 M&A mistakes HR leaders make—and what to do instead

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By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

Tips from EVERSANA’s Heidi Brookes on achieving integration post-deal

Mergers and acquisitions present an exciting opportunity for transformation—and an immense challenge for leadership teams. According to Harvard Business Review, 70-90% of M&A activities fail to accomplish the strategic objectives that guided the deal.

So what does it take to beat M&A’s tough odds? Ultimately, uniting your newly acquired workforce post-deal is a key part of the equation. While executives must collaborate cross-functionally to integrate new employees into their organization, HR leaders usually find themselves at the helm of these initiatives.

To empower employees to grow with their organization, visionary HR teams are embracing new AI-powered skills intelligence tools and talent marketplaces to gain insight into the capabilities their workforce has and uncover the best ways to reallocate talent accordingly. As these systems become mainstream, there are a few mistakes leaders must avoid—as well as a handful of best practices that executives can leverage to boost their company’s odds of success post-deal.

How HR’s role in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is evolving

While HR has always played one of the most important support roles during M&A, HR teams haven’t always had the technology needed to support their strategic efforts. Traditionally, there has been a significant manual lift associated with every element of post-M&A talent management processes, from developing compensation strategies to creating new policies to guide the organization.

Today, transformation is the driving force behind most M&A activity. Organizations are re-evaluating their business models and looking to make strategic deals to keep pace with ever-evolving consumer demands and emerging challenges. HR leaders are crucial during this transformation; once a deal is signed, HR plays a pivotal role in creating the foundation and frameworks that will make talent integration a success. That means reimagining the employee value proposition, creating new tactics to strategically upskill and reskill, finding the right way to integrate talent and skills into the org structure, and cultivating a compelling culture that unifies all employees.

To address these critical M&A needs, leaders can no longer rely on manual tools to execute priorities that have become decidedly strategic. Instead, visionary HR executives are turning to AI-powered systems like Gloat’s Agile Workforce OS to get the strategic workforce planning insights they need as well as an action-oriented platform—the talent marketplace—to deploy employees to areas of priority across the organization.

3 common M&A mistakes HR leaders must watch out for—and how to solve them

EVERSANA’s VP of People Development and Learning Heidi Brookes is one of a growing number of HR leaders who’s tapping into emerging technologies to guide her organization’s post-deal integration strategy. She shares some of her best practices, as well as a few mistakes HR leaders should watch out for:

#1. Don’t let siloes hold employees and hiring managers back
All too often leaders struggle to tap into the skills their newly acquired talent possesses. Rather than letting these boundaries hold people back, Brookes suggests harnessing an agile workforce OS to break down siloes.

She explains how EVERSANA uses its platform to power cross-functional collaboration, noting, “It breaks down silos. So that issue that we had of ‘I don’t know what other people in the business do.’ We have project managers across our business but before our agile workforce OS, they didn’t know what kind of opportunities were available to them across the business. So our platform helps break down those siloes so they can explore opportunities.”

#2. The quality of the business case you build plays a major role in determining future success
Even if your HR team recognizes that new technology can help accelerate effective workforce integration  post-M&A, more stakeholders will need to sign off on the platform to make it a success. To get everyone on board, Brookes explains how to use a central company challenge to build a case: “We really focused on building that business case around retention. We were losing a high number of people in their first year of employment with EVERSANA, almost 50%, because they just couldn’t see their career path with EVERSANA,” she explains.

Brookes goes on to discuss how her team approached this challenge, noting, “Any business wants to know about the money we’re going to be saving them. Many of the things we talk about are all connected. Employee development drives employee engagement and employee engagement drives client delight. This was a way for us to start helping them understand that by addressing skills visibility, retention, employee development, and employee engagement, we are going to raise the bar on client delight and there’s a positive financial impact to that.”

#3. Don’t underestimate your workforce’s enthusiasm for getting involved
Brookes has some advice for HR leaders who fear that their workforce will be resistant to the idea of pitching in on projects across the organization. “I think sometimes as organizations, we forget that people are willing to do extra if that means they can grow and develop and get involved in something that’s not their normal day-to-day job. And so we’re giving them that opportunity. They get to meet people that they haven’t met across the organization and they get to do and think about something differently,” she explains.

To encourage newly acquired employees to participate in cross-functional projects, HR leaders must showcase what workers will gain from joining these initiatives. Emphasize the value proposition to your entire workforce so that people from various teams and departments are inspired to get involved.

If you’re looking to learn more about how an agile workforce OS can transform your organization’s post-deal integration strategy, check out our HR leaders’ guide to mergers and acquisitions.

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