You’ve worked hard to build a great company culture, but after a major restructuring, you might need to make changes to help the business move forward.
After an organizational shift, it’s normal for employees to feel concerned and unsure of what will happen next. And while you may have had a great open culture, when employees are being laid off or your company merges with—or is bought out by—a different one, trust can be shaken. While it’s true that these decisions generally need to take place behind closed doors, the aftermath of a disillusioned workforce can’t be ignored.
That’s why significant organizational changes must be accompanied by a company culture revamp, even if you were pleased with the way things were before. Because if you just went through a series of layoffs, there are fewer people left to do the job. Or if you bought a new company, a plan must be developed for those employees to integrate. And if you were bought out, you’ll need to know basics like do you now defer to your new owners when it comes to strategic decisions?
All of these scenarios can be addressed with shifts to your company culture. And while each organizational shift comes with its own unique challenges, here are some general guidelines that can help you get through these transitional times.
In accordance with federal law, you had to keep the merger quiet until it was approved. But now that it’s happened, it’s time to be completely honest with your staff. In doing so, you should have answers to the following questions:
- What will the new company structure look like?
- How will you integrate systems?
- Will there be additional layoffs? When, and approximately how many?
- Will HR look at pay rates to make sure things are equitable across both organizations?
Ask for Input
It’s impossible to sort through all of the cultural changes before an organizational shift. But you can set guidelines and even create a mission statement. But the really important thing to do after a big change is to pay attention to how things settle.
For example, you may assume now that company A is owned by company B, that company B’s leaders should fill the senior positions, only to find that may not be the best fit. Or, employees from company A may think, “Of course we’ll stick with our two-hour long Thursday staff meetings,” only to realize that people from company B are used to a strict 30-minute staff meeting once a month.
In these situations, there can be contentious feelings on both sides. That’s when you should speak to your employees, ask their opinions and take them seriously. They are coming to work every day—so make sure it’s a good environment for them by considering their feedback before making any more changes.
Treat Everyone Fairly
In a layoff, help support both your terminated and remaining employees. Sometimes the thing people need the most after a big change is help moving forward. Treat those who were laid off well: Make sure you provide severance, help them apply for unemployment and give positive references. These three things will help your former employees move on with their lives and help the remaining staff feel assured that they will continue to be treated with integrity.
The same mindset applies to mergers and acquisitions. You’ll have to build new departmental structures as groups are combined. Focus on merit, and give people time to settle in. If there are salary discrepancies between the two groups, shore up compensation through raises—never reduce pay.
No matter how well you plan, there will be lots of unexpected changes when an organizational shift happens. To change company culture, you’ll need to keep communication channels open. Let people speak their piece, and do not punish people for being upset over the change. Change is hard for everyone. Build around the things that make your company great, and your new culture can be even better than your old one.
Searching for new tools and resources that can help your coworkers manage their benefits? Explore the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.