Employee engagement is a continuous process to attract, hire, and retain talent. Tackling emotions during M&As is a much-needed challenging task to overcome.

 “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace,” says Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s soup.

Business employers owning talented employees gain success. Employee engagement is critical to a company’s success and it starts from the onboarding process to the exit process, including mergers and acquisitions.

When employee engagement is taken care of as the employees onboard a new company, they understand the company goals and values at an early stage, which prevents absenteeism and lowers attrition rate later on. Any decisions that affect the employee career path and livelihoods will drive attrition. When employees’ questions go unanswered or rumors fly, employees feel anxious and pessimistic. This prompts them to update their resume on the side.

Moreover, things may turn topsy turvy when there occur mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Workforce integration is the greatest challenge during M&As. The two companies transition as a single operating unit will create friction and stress. Mergers involve joining of two cultures and processes, while acquisitions involve a complete takeover.

At this juncture, it is crucial to invest time to learn employee experiences and issues that employers were not aware of or processes that might have got omitted oversight.

During workforce integration, the management has to consider these pointers for a smooth transition.

  • Ensure emotional commitment on both sides of the ‘new’ company
  • Boost high employee morale and make them feel secure
  • Keep employees engaged and productive during and after the transition

This reduces the frustrations and helps to achieve a better outcome for the company and also gain new skills. Navigating employee emotions is one of the important employee retention strategies that help the company to have a smooth transition. Let’s dwell on the emotions and how to tackle them here.

Tackling employee emotions during Merger and Acquisitions


A massive and abrupt disruption can put anyone in a state of anxiety. As an employee, the first anxiety would be job security and a new reporting manager. Uncertainty, fear, and rumors drive employees crazy. It affects productivity or employees may jump ship.

A multi-tiered and intentional internal communication is the solution to add clarity. Think about what employees must know and the means to deliver it. Listen continuously and address questions or concerns that keeps popping out.


There are employees who look forward to the new change in the hope that lies ahead. There occurs a gap between the people, leaders, and managers. It is crucial to share accurate information and keep people on the same page.

You can vouch on excited people to onboard other employees too. Task volunteers and nomination by managers encourage employees to get accommodated with the new transition.

Pride and grief

During M&A, some may quit, job profile may change overnight, or the existing culture would dissolve. It impacts the psychology of the employee. The employees of the acquired company may have a superior feeling. It is necessary to channelize the pride and grief. Engage to retain. Be human in communication and be sensitive.

Take Away

M&As present various challenges to employee engagement. Honest communication, empathy towards employees, keeping employees in the loop, and guiding the actions will take your company a long way. Continue to connect people with purpose, mission, and values. Show people that you care for them.

Ariaa Reeds is a professional writer, a blogger who writes for a variety of online publications. She is also an acclaimed blogger outreach expert and content marketer. She loves writing blogs and promoting websites related to education like HR Professionals, HR and talent management, Human Resource, chief HR officers and other HR-related topics. Follow me on Twitter.

Employee emotion stock photo by fizkes/Shutterstock