How to Maintain Attraction and Engagement with Your Employer Brand in the Midst of Organizational Change
The uncertainty that accompanies reorganizations can damage attraction, engagement, and retention with your employer brand unless managed proactively by HR and line management. Here, you discover how to navigate reorganizations, acquisitions, and mergers while maintaining the strength of your employer brand.
Navigating a reorganization and how it affects employer branding
Given the constant need to adapt to changes in the market environment, many companies must reengineer, restructure, and right-size their organizations on a regular basis. Ideally, these organizational changes are planned in advance in order to seize future opportunities, but the reality is that companies are just as likely to be reacting to changes they would rather have avoided.
To maintain positive internal and external employer brand perceptions through these challenging times, do the following:
- Be sure you have a clear rationale for making the change. Very often leadership teams spend too much time communicating what needs to change and not enough time explaining why. By helping employees make sense of the changes required, leaders promote a stronger sense of involvement, ownership, and engagement.
- Clarify the future destination. Even though changes may be driven by apparently negative forces such as competitor success or failing demand, establish clear future objectives. Linking change to future goals signals proactive leadership and promotes a greater sense of confidence, forward momentum, and engagement among employees.
- Provide support. Change can be stressful and difficult, but it can also be reinvigorating depending on how well supported employees feel to make the necessary change. When organizational change is required, provide sufficient change management to ensure that employees receive the necessary training and support to make the required transition.
- Signal continuity as well as change. Organizational change can represent a significant moment of truth for the EVP and employer brand. Where possible, do your best to keep faith with the existing pillars of the employment deal, even though sacrifices may be required elsewhere. For example, when a company is downsizing, the company must maintain its promises to remaining employees in key areas such as training and development.
- Look for the upside in your external communication. Prospective candidates recognize that organizational change can represent improved opportunities, as well as potential risks. Incorporate any significant internal change programs into your external recruitment communication and sell the upsides of the change. For example, a company that’s shedding certain types of employees may signal a positive response to technological change, particularly if it’s increasing its hiring in other areas. Just be sure you’re delivering your rationale for the change both internally and externally as clearly and constructively as you can.
Smoothing the transition during an acquisition
When experiencing a merger and acquisition, employees recognize very quickly that mergers of equals are relatively rare. For organizations that have grown through acquisition, incorporating smaller rivals or simply extending their geographical footprint, there tends to be little argument over which employer brand is going to dominate. In such a case, the process is most akin to employee orientation.
Though the acquired organization may keep its name for a period of time, a key objective is for the acquired company to adopt the company values and the employer brand identity of the more dominant company as quickly as possible.
To smooth the transition, set out a clear migratory path to the new identity, alongside a clear and positive statement of the new EVP/employment deal that acquired employees are entering into.
Rebranding a merger of equals
Where a merger and acquisition is being more overtly positioned to employees as a merger of equals, most clearly marked by a corporate rebranding, the argument is stronger for developing a new EVP and employer brand. In this case, EVP development should represent an important part of the merger-and-acquisition process, signaling that both leadership teams and employee populations have an equal say in the marriage.
When this is managed effectively, the likelihood of maintaining engagement is much greater, because the new EVP serves as a tangible signal of the companies’ joint desire to forge not only a new corporation but a new culture and identity, drawing on the best of both parties.