With the target company we acquired, they had a lot of communication trust issues even before we merged, so this disengagement sometimes stems from their previous history. We ran into some obstacles with our communication strategies, but implemented some creative solutions as well.
– Only 1/3 of the target company’s employees had a work assigned email address, while it was a requirement at our organization
– They have 240 locations in 26 states and spanning 6 time zones
– Historically, communication practices for the target organization caused trust issues (i.e. they said there’d be no lay-offs then 2 weeks later laid-off over 100 employees from their headquarters; when site visits occurred with executives, people normally were escorted off the premises with the loss of their job, etc.)
– Leadership changes in both organizations were not always announced, so there was confusion of who was responsible for what and who was actually responsible for the employee
– Working on providing all employees an email address (branding is a concern as they are to keep their name until their 100th anniversary coming up in a couple years)
– Scheduled Zoom calls on a weekly basis that allowed for an open forum for employees to listen in on different topics, ask questions, and get to know some of the updates first hand
– All Employee Meetings were established on the target company’s side with the installation of their new President post-merger in which he talks about their service lines specifically and how we continue to be as one – also allows for questions and meeting new leaders
– Send out a weekly (now bi-weekly) integration email to all leaders that can be shared with their employees on happenings with the integration
– Performed a site visit to their only for-profit entity to see how they did things as they are extremely different. Focused on positive conversations and handling staff with “kid-gloves” to begin earning their trust. After day 1 when no one was escorted off the property, they talked about how the mood changed and they were more open to sharing information because they actually believed they were just there to learn more.
Sometimes it takes some extra hand-holding and a lot of additional effort to try to regain employee trust, but you can’t rush them giving you the trust and acceptance. Actions speak louder than words (especially if everyone is bogged down with email), so look for different ways to share information to get employees engaged and hopefully more trusting.