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4 critical considerations when conducting pulse surveys for use in M&A

Mergers and Acquisitions|Integrated Wellbeing
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By Kelly Karger and Jim Leininger | July 10, 2020

Employee pulse surveys can provide necessary information throughout the M&A process, enabling leaders to adapt to help ensure a successful integration.

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About our ‘Best Practices: Measuring Employee Experience in M&A’ series

Our four-part “Best Practices: Measuring Employee Experience in M&A” series covers three proven tools that can help increase the likelihood of M&A success: pulse surveys, virtual focus groups and high-performer interviews.

Employee pulse surveys are an effective tool for measuring the employee experience in mergers and acquisitions (M&A).

Getting pulse surveys right requires a deliberate approach that includes the following four key considerations:

  1. 01

    Start early.

    An important consideration when implementing pulse surveys is to build the survey process early into the transaction life cycle so that it can be deployed and updated as the deal progresses and timely insights are provided. Centralize this process with the owners of change management for the deal to ensure consistent design, deployment and follow-up across the enterprise.

  2. 02

    Define your target participants.

    The assumption often is that only the employees of the acquired or divested company need to be surveyed, as they are most impacted by the change. Yet in many transactions, employees across the organization are impacted by the changes and have similar concerns about the future of the company and their roles in it. In these cases, surveys should be designed to be applied across all employees using a core set of items, but allow enough flexibility to ask more specific questions to those areas of the business that have been uniquely impacted by the deal or play a special role in the future organization.

  3. 03

    Think about the content.

    The survey instrument used during M&A should include a relatively short set of items related specifically to the transaction. Other listening activities such as onboarding, engagement and exit surveys should continue as separate events. Resist the urge to consolidate into a common survey. For an M&A survey — much like the deal itself — focus and agility are key. A short survey can bring great value to the process and requires only a few minutes to complete.

  4. 04

    Determine the right cadence.

    The nature of M&A typically results in a phased approach to transition activities and communications. Employee perceptions will reflect this progression, which tends to shift quickly over time. As such, it is important to measure the employee experience in a series of pulses that parallel the transition process. While the topics may vary somewhat between surveys, asking a set of core questions at various points along the way allows for tracking employee attitude, measuring the success of policies and communications, and input into the direction on where future investments may have the greatest return on investment.

Employee pulse surveys can provide necessary information throughout the M&A process, enabling leaders to adapt the process to help ensure a successful integration.

Next in our Best Practices: Measuring Employee Experience in M&A series: How to use virtual focus groups.

Authors

Senior Director, Global M&A

Director — Talent Management and Organizational Development

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