Six lessons learned from a major merger

Why and how to keep employees informed as companies combine.

When two companies merge, it’s crucial for both organizations to offer a steady stream of information about the process to their employees, says Ginger Kuenzel, Thermo Fisher Scientific‘s director of employee communications.

Doing so when the two companies have nearly 30,000 employees spread out among nearly 400 sites across the globe was difficult, but essential to ensuring a smooth transition on the day the merger was finalized, says Kuenzel. She helped oversee Thermo Electron Corporation’s communications strategy when the roughly 10,000-employee company announced plans to merge with Fisher Scientific in May 2006.

Because the two companies had little overlap, most employees didn’t have to worry about layoffs. Nevertheless, like most mergers, the situation prompted change and uncertainty.

With the nightly news increasingly dominated by potential mergers between major U.S. corporations such as Citigroup and Morgan Stanley or Chrysler and General Motors, Kuenzel says the lessons she took away from the Thermo/Fisher merger can be applied by communicators in the midst of their own company’s merger talks.

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