Key takeaways in this post:

  • Make sure you involve your communication team from the beginning.
  • Work with the legal team to get approvals for messages.
  • Tell people what you can when you can. Promise to give more details later.
  • Have in-person meetings where employees can ask questions and hear answers from leaders.
  • Use apps, newsletters and websites to share updates.

Mergers or acquisitions can be hard on employees. There’s the uncertainty of organizational changes. There’s also the fear about job security and changes to company culture. But healthcare organizations that deploy effective employee communication can ease worries and ensure a smoother transition.

Effective employee communication was among the five tips I shared in my earlier WG Content blog post on ensuring brand voice consistency during a merger or acquisition. I ranked it fourth. But I believe it’s the most important.

Organizational change is stressful. We’ve all seen how the pandemic changed our lives and workplaces.

But work stress was high even before the pandemic. According to a 2017 study, workers were twice as likely to report stress due to changes at work.

Study participants also reported mistrusting management and doubting communications about their motives. This is why clear, genuine communication is key. It helps build trust and reduce stress.

Mergers and acquisitions change company culture. They also change job duties and reporting.

That’s why how you communicate these changes is important.

Set yourself up for success by taking the following steps:

  • Engage in early discussions
  • Use a variety of tactics to reach people where they are
  • Commit to transparency and honesty

Here are seven tips to help you communicate with employees.

1. Make sure you have a seat at the table.

Involve your communications team early and often. Invite them to meetings. You can’t communicate in an effective way if you don’t know all the details.

Avoid playing catch-up or creating quick-turn communications. Knowing what’s coming is valuable, even if deals or details aren’t final.

You can use what you learn to create drafts for communication. Or you can write FAQs for employees.

2. Make friends with your legal team.

Communications may need approval from legal counsel. If you haven’t already, introduce yourself to the legal team. Ask about their processes.

Learn how they like to get information and how much time they need for content review. Legal and communications teams should work together. This helps build your organization’s reputation. It also helps manage risk.

Remember, legal considerations are important. But so are the views of your communications team.

Not providing clear, consistent communication has risks that can hinder the success of any merger or acquisition.

3. Share what you can, when you can

Being prompt helps you control the message. But it may mean not including all the specifics.

It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers as long as you’re upfront, honest and commit to following up. Create a detailed plan to help you stay focused. It will also make you accountable.

Make sure your plan includes these strategies:

  • Key messages
  • Audience targeting
  • Timelines

Keep the plan handy to check your progress.

4. Meet people in person.

Plan employee forums or feedback sessions. Host these events at various stages of the process.

If you have more than one location, schedule sessions at each. Remember to schedule them across different shifts. This ensures that everyone has a chance to attend.

Ask employees to submit questions beforehand so your leaders have time to prepare answers.

5. Take advantage of the tools you have.

If you have an employee newsletter, intranet or app, use it to your advantage. Create a dedicated space within your specific tool for regular updates.

Here are a few ideas for what you can use the tool for:

  • Show changes.
  • Share timelines.
  • Answer questions.

6. Partner with managers and human resources (HR).

Managers and HR staff have a direct line to employees. Prepare your managers and HR team to answer questions and give them talking points.

7. Have a plan for your social channels and website.

Your employees may be following you on social media. Decide how social media will affect your plan.

Check your profiles for feedback or comments, and respond if needed.

Along these lines, don’t forget your website. Make sure it’s up to date with the information you need to share.

If you have to merge two websites, take steps to save time and valuable content.

All levels of your organization should see you as a trusted partner. When announcing a merger to employees, you can build buy-in and trust, which affects the well-being of every employee.

If you need internal comms support, WG Content can help. Reach out any time to learn more.

Focus on being transparent and open about the reasons for the merger and how it will help the organization. Consider hosting informational sessions or workshops to educate employees and address any questions or concerns they may have.

Involve your marketing team in the communication planning process. They can provide valuable insights and make sure that all messaging is consistent with your brand’s voice and strategy.

Use various forms of communication such as email, video conferencing, or company-wide newsletters to keep remote employees in the loop. Schedule regular check-ins with them to address any concerns and provide updates.

Acknowledge concerns and try to understand their perspective. Communicate the benefits and how the merger or acquisition can lead to employee growth opportunities. Provide support and resources for employees who may be struggling with the changes.

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