Tips for Surviving a Merger

A merger can bring problems for staff because of restructuring and downsizing. Mergers are very common in the corporate world; employees need to know how to protect their interests. Depending on circumstances, the structure makes one organization out of two. This may vary, in cases where a distinct brand is involved, or where a corporate group is involved. Some areas may be amalgamated and some kept separate for operational reasons. The restructure is usually phased over a period of time, most commonly six months or so.

Merger Basics

Restructures may require interviews, or simply new hire appointments. In some cases, mergers may work on contracts, particularly for staff outside the basic office environment. It's more efficient, retains staff more efficiently, and figures out as cheaper than layoffs. The new corporate model will be based on a realignment and fusion of processes. The areas that are typically most affected are usually:

  • Administration
  • Accounts
  • Sales
  • Logistics
  • Customer service
  • Human resources
  • Management

Survival Strategies

The staff that is kept on during a merger usually fit the new organization perfectly; have excellent knowledge directly related to the operations of the business and a good history of the business. To survive a merger, you will need to adapt to meet the new organization's needs. You may well have a good starting point in your current position. The great survivors in mergers are:

  • People with expertise in core business: Too valuable to lose, they're usually recommended for the new structure.
  • Administration and accounts: There's a good case for keeping the main operators, who can cover the basics of both systems. 
  • Technical experts: Particularly those with clear advanced knowledge bases in existing and incoming systems.
  • Top salespeople: Revenue is always a priority. There's not necessarily a conflict in operating an amalgamated sales division.
  • Logistics: Another core business issue, the specialists in logistics is usually kept, if possible, as built in experts.
  • Human Resources: Trainers and HR specialists may be retained as part of a composite structure, knowing the condition of both former organizations.
  • Management: Technical, sales and line managers may be retained to cover those operations and provide continuity.

In many cases, keeping existing staff also forms a valuable base for customer retention, and maintaining client relationships. That can be a true deal maker. Clients are sometimes put off when confronted with a new organization with no familiar faces. They may react negatively, and total strangers, trying to persuade them to keep their business with the company, aren't always the best option.


A merger isn't necessarily all bad news. Many times, many employees will keep their jobs because the work still needs to be done. There will be cutoff points for the old system, but work volume may increase in the interim period, creating a need for more staff. A successful merger generates more business.

The new organization contains opportunities, as well. The new organization may be your ticket to a better job, or maybe a promotion. Keep an open mind when looking at a restructure, because you may find a chance for promotion.