MERGERS! Anticipate …Take Action!

Mergers and acquisitions or "consolidations" happen all the time in the business world. You’re not supposed to know. But you sense the difference. There are whispers everywhere. Why doesn’t management replace people who move on to another company? And why do they keep delaying purchases and decisions. Often these moves leave multiple employees in the unemployment line, some without much in the way of notice.

Years ago, the company was full of possibilities. Employees considered themselves among family. But the culture has shifted to churn-and-burn. You hold your breath in fear of pink slips before the holidays.

Think your company is up for sale? Look for these signs:

Cost Controls: You notice you are going lean, so get ready. Your budget is slashed, pay is frozen, training ignored, and travel moratoriums are issued. Perhaps Sales is the only department hiring. Usually this means the company is looking to move inventory and create the appearance of a strong cash flow.

New Faces: Your office suddenly has strangers visiting and walking through the halls, but you don’t know who. Maybe they’re potential clients. But they could also represent your future boss.

Key Defections: When senior employees and heads of departments, particularly from sales, finance, and human resources, start leaving the company. With uncertainty comes fear. Watch the social media profiles of some of the top members of the company. If they’re collecting references, and networking with competitors and recruiters, they may be on the prowl.

Questions: Suddenly, the upper management care more about process than about results. Perhaps they will have you outline what you do – and how – so they can train a peer. They’re making up lists and checking them twice. And nothing good ever comes from that.

Everything seems exceptionally quiet. You’ve experienced slumps with the company before, but now operations feel like they have stopped. Reviews and sales goals have been pushed back. If you find yourself facing a disappearing job, don’t take the easy route: doing nothing and complaining about it. Do something to fix the situation before you they lay you off. Here are a few things you need to review before the possibility of losing your job becomes a reality.

Prepare your finances. In good times and bad, it’s always wise to make sure your finances are in order. But if your job is in danger of going away, being outsourced, or simply given to a younger, cheaper version of yourself, then it’s time to fix your finances straightaway!

Slash your expenses; perhaps give up the normal entertainment expenses to pay down your debt.

Save like you have never saved before. Think long and hard about how big your emergency fund should be – some say you need to have enough saved to cover 3 months of bills and some believe you should have 6 months stashed away.

Review Your Existing Employment Agreements. The first thing you should do (even before a merger happens) is to take a look at your employment contracts you have with your employer. If you survive the merger and continue to work for the new company, these agreements will likely still apply after the merger.

Here are some things to look for

Termination conditions. If you have an employee handbook provided at the time of your hire – now is the time to review it and any other written policies provided over the course of your employment. Do they offer protections from layoff or termination? If, for example, you have a contract saying you may be fired only for good cause or you are entitled to a certain amount of notice before losing your job, you can rely on those protections.

Severance pay. Does your employment contract, handbook, or other policies provided during your employment address severance pay? There may be a clause that states you are entitled to a certain amount of pay if your employment ends during the contract term, or if you lose your job in a merger or acquisition.

Non-Compete Agreements. A non-compete agreement prevents an employee from going to work for a competitor or starting a competing business for a certain period of time after the employment relationship ends. If you’ve signed this type of agreement, you should read it carefully to see whether it addresses a merger or acquisition of your company.

Improve your skill set or education level. Before it’s too late, hit the books and pick up a new degree or certification. Occasionally your employer will help pay for additional education when it pertains to your job skills. Once you get those skills under your belt, find ways to update your resume with new skills and education to assist you in the transition. 

The bottom line is this, if you sense your job is going away, start preparing. You don’t have to become a victim. Choose to make your move before you job makes the move for you.

Categories: Job Tips with Phil Blair