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Develop an HR Plan to Effectively Manage the Merger or Acquisition Process

The human capital aspects of M&A are crucial to successful integration and goal realization. Be sure that HR is prepared for the challenge.


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  • Phil Buckley, Managing Director at Change with Confidence Incorporated and author of Change with Confidence
  • Ellen Cohen, Director, Human Resources, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Jim Diotte, Vice President Human Resources Safety & Environment, SaskPower
  • Dr. B. Rajesh Kumar, Associate Professor, Institute of Management Technology, Dubai and author of Mega Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Dr. M.L. Marks, Professor, San Francisco State University, author of Joining Forces: Making One Plus One Equal Three in Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances, and President,
  • Debbie Musar, Human Resources Manager, FIS
  • Christine Thrussell, Director Human Resources, Certified Management Accountants of Ontario

Your Challenge

  • Estimates put the probability of M&A failure rate at between 50% and 70% - not an encouraging statistic.
  • The human capital aspects of M&A are crucial to successful integration and goal realization.
  • Give your merger or acquisition the best chance for success by thoroughly managing the process from due diligence well into the first year post-deal. Be sure that HR is prepared for the challenge.
  • Use our research to develop an HR plan to effectively manage the merger or acquisition process including up-front work, communication, cultural integration, workforce planning, and terms and conditions planning.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Culture clashes are a value destroyer in M&A. Plan to give culture the attention it deserves by committing to a cultural alignment assessment and ensuring that any misalignment is communicated and followed-up on.
  • A consistent, justifiable process for determining who will fill new roles and who should exit the organization helps ensure that M&A goals are met and negative outcomes (litigation, discrimination, etc.) are avoided.

Impact and Result

  • Streamline your M&A HR approach and avoid unintended negative consequences such as unforeseen financial issues, cultural integration issues, labor disputes, and even litigation.

Research & Tools

1. Understand the benefits of rigorous M&A HR planning and gather the information and resources required to get started

Get ready for effective M&A HR planning.

2. Create an M&A Project & Communication Plan

Lower the anxiety of your workforce, encourage retention during transition, and reduce the negative impact of distraction on productivity.

3. Assess cultural alignment of the two organizations

Inform all aspects of M&A HR planning from communication to the selection of terms & conditions.

4. Identify required roles and FTE for the new organization, and identify and retain key players and plan for any terminations

Design a new workforce plan.

5. Identify discrepancies between the two organizations’ terms & conditions and select a desired position for each

Select terms and conditions.

Guided Implementations

This guided implementation is a three call advisory process.

Call #1 - Create a communication plan.

Discuss any issues or concerns regarding M&A communication. Review the ownership for different kinds of M&A communication. Discuss key messages by target audience and identify communication options for specific M&A events.

Call #2 - Assess cultural alignment and integrate.

Review the results of the M&A Organizational Culture Diagnostic Tool. Discuss how the degree of alignment or misalignment will impact your communication and workforce planning as well as the selection of terms & conditions.

Call #3 - Design the new workforce plan.

Discuss any issues or concerns arising from your workforce planning estimate and departmental review. Review your retention plans for key players. Discuss costing of your termination plans.

Onsite Workshop

Discuss This Workshop

Book Your Workshop

Onsite workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost onsite delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Get Ready for M&A HR Planning

The Purpose

To understand:

  • The benefits of HR M&A planning.
  • The people and information necessary to begin M&A HR planning.
  • Critical elements of a communication plan.
  • How the degree of cultural alignment impacts M&A HR planning. 

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Documented baseline information for your M&A HR plan.
  • A communication plan tailored to key audiences.
  • Assessment of the degree of cultural alignment between the two organizations.




Make the case for M&A HR planning


Get ready for M&A HR planning


Create an M&A communication plan

  • M&A Communication Plan

Assess the degree of cultural alignment

  • M&A Organizational Cultural Diagnostic

Module 2: Develop an HR Plan for the M&A

The Purpose

After completing this section, you will understand:

  • The influencing factors of workforce planning and who to include in your M&A workforce planning team.
  • How to identify the process you will use to determine the best employee for each job in the new entity.
  • Factors in retaining key players through the M&A process.
  • How to determine timing of employee transfers to the new entity, and/or exit packages if appropriate.
  • McLean & Company’s process to evaluate and select Terms & Conditions for transitioning employees.

Key Benefits Achieved

Having engaged in this process, you will be able to:

  • Design a workforce plan for the new organization.
  • Evaluate and select terms & conditions of employment for the acquired employees.




Design a new workforce plan

  • M&A Workforce Plan

Evaluate and select Terms & Conditions

  • M&A Terms & Conditions Inventory

Search Code: 73840
Published: December 2, 2013
Last Revised: December 2, 2013