What Does an Acquisition Mean for Your Employees?

February 15, 2017 Pete Jansons

Top view of businesspeople shaking hands after sealing a deal. High angle view of casual businesswomen shaking hands after concluding business agreement.

Upon learning that the small business at which they work has been acquired, employees are bound to have a variety of feelings and questions. While they might be excited over the possible opportunities this action may produce, they likely also worry about the effect it will have on them personally.

As the small business’s owner, you may be thrust into the role of middleman. Having grown close to your staff, you undoubtedly have their interests in mind. But new ownership oftentimes spells changes you no longer control. Dealing with the situation is going to be challenging, but these strategies can help ease the transition:

Discourage the rumor mill

In the absence of clear information, employees will turn wherever they can for details about the acquisition. But pieced-together tidbits gathered from network connections and other sources tend to be filled with errors and speculation. Ensure your small business employees that they needn’t go that route because you will keep them in the loop as much as possible.

Prepare for questions

Frequent, truthful communication will help with morale and productivity during the transition. Top on the list of concerns will be job security. Your small business employees want to know if they’re in danger of elimination, pay or benefit cuts, or relocation. Secondly, they will be thinking about how the acquisition affects office life, such as changes to roles, responsibilities, leadership, mission, and company culture.

Answer what you can, and admit that some things won’t be settled until down the line. For instance, you may be able to ensure that anyone laid off will be entitled to a severance package, but you may not know the number or type of positions being cut (if any).

Promote interaction and open-mindedness

A natural reaction from your small business staff may be to distrust or shun the “outsiders” invading the office. Being distant, however, is not going to make the transition easier on anyone, so encourage your team to get to know their new colleagues and leaders. Your team may discover the newcomers have exciting ideas or better ways of doing things. Likewise, learning what has made your office a great place to work in the past will help shape company culture moving forward.

Stress the positive

Finally, remember that people generally fear change. Because of this uneasiness, they tend to focus on the potential negatives of disrupting the status quo. Remind your small business employees of their past successes. Then, help them to see the benefits of the acquisition. Perhaps projects will have more funding or employees won’t have to juggle as many roles. This new chapter might be more than good news for the small business; it might be a substantial chance for talented individuals to take their skills and innovation to new heights.


Has your small business undergone an acquisition? Share your tips with me on Twitter at @CBpetej

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