Mergers occur when two businesses decide to join together, becoming one company. As the businesses consolidate into a single entity, it can mean many changes and new stresses for employees. We’ve compiled a list of the top questions to ask when your company is being acquired to ensure everyone in your business understands what to expect.
Reasons for Mergers
Businesses may merge to acquire a larger piece of the market and eliminate competition. A large business may also acquire a smaller niche business with expertise in a certain area if they want to sell a new product but don’t want to spend money and time breaking into a new market.
There are a number of reasons why a business might decide to buy or join with another business, but the primary reason for a merger is to make or save money. As a result, employees may find their world turned upside down or—due to redundancies—they may be out of a job entirely.
As a business owner or office manager, it’s important to understand that your team will have many important questions about the merger. Don’t let the rumors fly; it’s best to get ahead of these questions as soon as possible. As much as you are able, be transparent with your team and have private meetings with each team member to discuss what the merger means for them and what changes they should expect.
As an employee, you’ll want to find out as much as you can about the merger and how it will affect your role, responsibilities, pay, and if your position will exist at all once the merger is complete. The following questions to ask during a merger will give you insight into what information you should request from your employers and superiors before, during, and after a company merger.
Questions to Ask When Your Company Is Being Acquired
1. Will My Position Continue to Exist?
One of the most important questions and certainly the most pressing one for individuals is if your position at your job will continue to exist.
If your position no longer exists, you need to ask about your options and next steps. If your position still exists in the same or similar form, you can begin to ask the relevant next questions below (skip 2-3)
2. Is There Another Position Available For You?
If your position will cease to exist after the merger, will there be a different position you can be assigned to instead? Find out if there are any similar positions available and how they will differ from your current one. How does the pay compare? How do the benefits compare?
If you will not be assigned another position directly, are there any you are able to apply for? What are the next steps if there are no other options for you at the company?
3. What Severance is Offered For Eliminated Positions?
Finding out your position will no longer exist is tough to swallow. If you hear this unfortunate news, take a deep breath. You will need to ask about severance pay for eliminated positions right away.
Do your own research too. What are you entitled to legally? Read your current employment agreements carefully for information on termination provisions, non-compete agreements, and severance pay. If you are unsure or believe you are being treated unfairly, consult a lawyer about your rights and possible options during the merger.
4. Will My Position Be Shared With Anyone Else?
Your position may still exist, but will you have to share it with someone else? Will your title expand and apply to other employees? In a merger, two companies become one, which means redundancies are bound to exist. Even if you are kept on staff, you may learn you now share responsibilities and authority with someone else or multiple coworkers.
5. Will My Role and Duties Change?
Your role may change due to a number of factors. During a merger, always ask about any differences you might expect in regard to your duties so that you know what to expect during and after the merger. Sharing a role with another person or moving to a larger team may alter what’s expected of you. If your team is downsized during a merger, you may be expected to take on more responsibilities.
You may also want to ask about how your role might change during the transition period. What will be expected of you as the two companies merge? Will you be required to take on additional transition duties? Will you be required or able to work overtime during this time?
6. Will the Merger Affect Who I Report to?
If the business or your team expands, this may change who you report to. You could be reporting to someone from the other merging business instead of the person you’ve got to know over your years at the company. You also may find you lose some of your previous authority in the process of the merger. You once may have reported to one person above you, but now, due to the expanding team, you may need to report to two, three, or four higher-up individuals.
Having additional positions added above yours can be tough to adjust to. A merger brings about many changes, and you may have to face the fact that the ladder above you is now much larger than it was. The silver lining is that there may be more opportunities to grow, now that there are additional opportunities for promotions.
7. Will the Merger Affect My Pay?
Here's one of the big ones. Will your pay be affected during the merger? A change in pay isn’t always a bad thing. You may be entitled to a raise during or after the merger, especially if you are asked to take on new responsibilities or if your position at the company changes for the better.
A merger is meant to save or make a company money, so, unfortunately, that could mean a decrease in your pay. As there are many redundancies in a merger, a business may need to lower pay rates or salaries in order to keep more staff in their current positions. Compensation may be affected so that more employees can keep their job.
If your pay is affected, it’s up to you, and the legal agreements in your contract, to decide if you want to continue working there. Make sure you fully understand any non-compete agreements you may have signed that could prevent you from applying to work for a competitor or from starting a competing business. Speak to a legal professional in these instances, as your non-compete may be invalid in a merger.
8. Will My Benefits Change?
Employee benefits pose a great value to many employees, and they may mean more than financial compensation to some. Make sure you understand how your benefits will be affected during and after the merger. Will they stay the same? Will you move to a different provider? Will you lose any of the benefits you previously had? Will you gain any new benefits due to the merger?
These are also questions to ask after a merger. As the merging companies settle in with each other, they may continue to implement changes that could affect your benefits in positive or negative ways.
9. Will the Business Relocate?
A merger may mean your entire business will move to a new location. This could mean a different commute to work, but it also might mean a larger, better office space.
Either way, a move is a lot of extra stress for employees and employers. Ask about any plans to move offices or plans to move in the future as the business expands and grows.
📦 There’s a whole lot to remember during an office move, not to mention all of the packing. Read our 9 Tips for Moving Offices (Including a Free Office Move Checklist)
10. Will I Keep My Office?
If your company is moving to a new office building, your office situation is going to change. Ask about any changes you should expect. Will you have your own office? Will your new office be larger or smaller? Will you need to share an office with anyone?
Teams that are not moving may still see a consolidation of office spaces. As two businesses become one, there may be more workers who need to find spaces to work. If you cherish your personal office space, ask about possible office realignment so that you know what to expect during and after the merger.
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