5 Tips for Organizational Integration After a Merger

Companies merge all the time. Whether it’s massive companies like Disney and Pixar or two small local businesses, it takes a lot of work and effort to make an organizational integration successful for all parties.

During an m&a (merger and acquisition), HR teams face challenges such as employee disdain, cultural differences, new group dynamics, and more. Organizational integration is the process of dealing with and addressing these problems to ensure a successful integration of both work cultures.

the inside scoop on team building events

In our latest episode, The Inside Scoop on Team Building Events, we spoke with Kevin Pertusiello about the ins and outs of team building events, how and why they work, and the impact they can have on m&a culture. During our discussion, Pertusiello noted that team building can serve as an effective bridge between two corporate cultures during a merger. He said:

“There may be times that different groups are coming together because they really don’t know each other and that has sometimes fostered some issues when it comes to trust. So it ends up being our job—whether the client knows it or not–—to get people to the same table and be able to see each other for who they are.”

In today’s blog, we’re going to look closely at workplace culture and how it’s affected by a merger, how to prioritize organizational integration, some tips for maintaining organizational integrity, and how team building can help bring your teams together during and after a merger.

Work Culture Considerations Before a Corporate Merger

To start, let’s look at some necessary considerations before a corporate merger. A merger can completely shift a company’s culture and employee sentiment, which raises potential difficulties and challenges leaders need to overcome. Many employees will be upset at the idea of a merger, worried about potential layoffs, a change in culture, and more. This may lead to a toxic work environment if these concerns are left unaddressed.

A merger can also completely change a company’s culture. With two completely different companies merging, it can change standard operating procedures, management, leadership styles, and organizational goals. All of this underlines the importance of m&a culture integration. If you want a merger to be successful, you need to ensure organizational integration—defined as streamlining business processes, facilitating communication with employees, and blending cultures during a merger.

great teamwork

Prioritizing Organizational Integration

So, what is cultural integration in practice, and why is it so important? In function, cultural integration is just integrating separate business cultures together during a merger to ensure a smooth transition. This is essential because there is often a wide gap between the two cultures during a merger. Both of them can be healthy cultures, but there is still going to be a gap. Addressing those differences is key to success. Pertusiello noted this during our podcast, saying:

“Now and again, we’ll get called in as TeamBonding to connect a team that has had some kind of merger or a combination of departments–and it may be two groups of people that really don’t trust each other due to a lack of knowledge.”

As for its importance, there are numerous benefits that come with organizational integration. Integrating cultures can lead to improved communication, trust, engagement, creativity, a better culture, and more.

5 Tips to Maintain Organizational Integrity

Now that you understand why organizational integration is necessary, let’s provide some tips to help you maintain organizational integrity during a merger.

1. Encourage Open Communication

As always in business, open communication plays a big role here. Employees want transparency when going through big organizational changes. They want to ask questions, get more information, and alleviate their fears and concerns. Communication helps build trust in the workplace, which helps a lot during a merger. If employees trust their company and their leaders, they will be much more willing to “go with the flow” and give the merger a fair shot.

To make this happen, leadership can establish open communication channels. Make sure everyone can speak and have their voice heard. Leadership should leave their doors open to all employees, ensuring anyone can talk directly with leaders. This allows for employees to have their concerns heard and addressed quickly, preventing any build-up of negativity or fear. It also smooths out the entire process. This helps ensure that your merger is as effective as possible without any major roadblocks.

2. Focus on Employee Wellbeing

employee wellness program

Another big tip is to focus on employee wellbeing. One of the biggest concerns employees have around a merger is that things like workload, work-life balance, and employee wellbeing will be negatively impacted. Putting a focus on wellbeing during an organizational integration can help address those concerns. It also helps employees feel better in general, which translates into better and more efficient work.

There are many things leaders can do to prioritize wellbeing. Offering wellness programs, providing flexible work hours, taking employee concerns about wellbeing into account, and more all help put employees first. The key here though is to listen to your employees. No one knows how they are feeling better than themselves, so listen to them and empathize. Follow their lead and act on their suggestions.

3. Emphasize Employee Engagement

Employee engagement also plays an important role in maintaining organizational integrity during a merger. Engaged employees are happier, more productive, and more willing to work through the challenges associated with a merger.

There are many ways to emphasize engagement. Engagement activities can help shape a positive workplace while boosting employee engagement. Gamification in the workplace can foster engagement and employee development. Another way is to reward and recognize employees for their hard work. This shows employees that their efforts are valued, which can help motivate them and boost engagement across the organization.

Just make sure that your employees are being engaged during the merger. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on the big picture and numbers, but you need to take the time to focus on employees as well.

4. Lead by Example

Employees tend to mirror their managers; if you have a bad attitude, your employees probably will too. That means one of the best ways to navigate cultural integration is leading by example. Pertusiello emphasized this point heavily when he said:

“I can tell right away how a company is doing by watching what the management-level people do when they come to these events. I can’t count how many events we’ve hosted where the managers or leadership say, ‘We’re not going to play. We want them to play, we’re just going to take pictures and go.’ I say, ‘No, you’re not. You’re staying, you’re playing, and you’re going to have a good time. They need to get to know you as much as you need to get to know them.’”

Leaders need to lead with kindness, embody the company’s values, and demonstrate resilience during hard times. They also need to be examples of adaptability and growth. If you’re setting a good example, your employees will follow and do the same.

5. Foster Collaboration

Last but not least, collaboration is also incredibly important. With two different companies and cultures with different sets of employees and teams coming together, collaboration is one of the best ways to bring them together.

Encouraging collaboration—whether that be within existing teams, cross-departmental collaborations, or for new teams/team members—helps employees learn more about each other, build bonds, and ultimately ensure a smoother organizational integration. This can be as simple as having two different teams come together to plan a party, or it can be as complicated as having them work together on an incredibly important project across departments.

Team building can also be a good option here. Having employees engage with each other through team building helps develop relationships that foster understanding, communication, and collaboration. Though the “how” is important here, the main focus is that you’re bringing people together and encouraging collaboration. That goes a long way in helping your cultures integrate smoothly during a merger.

Bonding Ideas After a Corporate Merger

If you’re looking for bonding ideas after a corporate merger to help with managing culture and organizational integration, we’ve got you covered. Let’s go over some potential ways you can build bonds and strengthen your teams after a merger.

Breaking Barriers is a popular team bonding event that helps employees overcome barriers and fears while shifting to focus on their goals, all while bringing people together and building lasting bonds.

Another event well suited for a merger is Bridging the Divide. This event puts a focus on the idea that all organizations and departments are vital to the company’s success. This can elevate employee connection, break barriers, and bridge the divide between teams.

Bridging the Divide

Emotional intelligence is also key during a merger, which makes Emotional Intelligence for Teams a great resource. As the name suggests, this event is also about prioritizing emotional intelligence, which helps your teams more effectively integrate.

And to wrap things up, Charity Team Building Activities are another great option. What better way to bond with new coworkers than by doing good in the community? Charitable team building is an effective way to bond even the most disjointed teams. Pertusiello talked about how effective these events can be during our discussion, noting:

“The fact that you’re able to get your team together while being able to help a local organization of kids, soldiers, or people who are dealing with illness. The fact that you’re able to help your team and others at the same time within one event, it’s a knockout of the park every time.”

Ensure a Smooth Cultural Integration

Organizational integration can be a challenge, but you can ensure a smooth transition by empowering employees and bringing them together. Through prioritizing open communication, employee wellbeing, engagement, collaboration, and strong leaders that lead by example, you can effectively integrate cultures and help set up a merger for success.

While that may seem difficult, team building events can be extremely effective at getting a team in a positive and trusting headspace after a merger while also bringing employees together. At TeamBonding, we put a fun spin on team building events while focusing on specific takeaways that can help you and your team navigate a merger. Get in touch with us to help make your merger as smooth and successful as possible.

Camille VanBuskirk

Team Contributor

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