When two companies join together, they create one new entity that ideally benefits both businesses. A merger can help companies synthesize expertise, gain customers, and reduce costs, making the combined establishment more profitable than either organization was on its own.
Although that's the goal, it might not always be the case. Sometimes one company benefits more than the other. As for staff, a merger can create duplicate roles and responsibilities, signaling the potential for layoffs and restructuring.
Employees of a company undergoing a merger should be on the lookout for certain signs. While you should never make a rash decision to quit, consider leaving your current position should you witness any of the following red flags.
1. Toxic Workplace Culture
Even if you feel like your position is secure, you may find that the workplace culture around you is changing for the worse. Merger or not, employers should treat employees with respect and make them feel valued.
When these principles are compromised, you will likely notice more gossip amongst staff, employees quitting with little notice, or a lack of transparency from leadership. If your coworkers start voluntarily jumping ship, there's probably a good reason. If you sense a negative shift in workplace culture, it doesn't bode well for a company's ultimate success.
2. Poor Performance
Some mergers aren't successful. They may look good on paper, but in practice, they flop. Leadership may have laid off key individuals or overburdened others. Productivity and sales can take a hit. Clients may lose faith in the company.
As with any significant change, the merger may take the new company some time to stabilize. As such, don't bail at the first sign of trouble. However, if you've stuck it out for at least six months and things aren't improving, it may be time to find a new gig.
3. An Incompetent Boss
During a merger, your department could fall under new management—and some bosses are less competent than others. Your incoming manager might even be less qualified than you are. They may be unfamiliar with your daily responsibilities and offer little guidance.
Try showing empathy while your new boss adjusts to the role, but stay vigilant. If they don't begin demonstrating sound leadership potential, you won't likely receive the mentorship and professional advice you need to be successful long-term.
4. Loss of Advancement Opportunities
Advancement potential is critical to workplace satisfaction. We need to feel that there is potential for growth professionally and financially within an organization. Without those opportunities, it is easy to become unmotivated or disengaged.
Sometimes during a merger, companies may choose to eliminate some leadership positions or fill them with less-than-competent candidates (as suggested in the previous point). If a position you've been working towards is suddenly off the table, consider finding an organization that offers upward mobility.
5. Reduced Employee Benefits
Following a merger, companies may re-evaluate their strategies and finances. To reduce costs, some employers may reduce their employee benefits. Their decision could compromise perks such as education stipends, professional development opportunities, healthcare assets, work-from-home arrangements, or technical reimbursements.
These cuts can signal a disregard for employee well-being, especially if employers announce these decisions with little regard for the impact on employees (i.e., through a tone-deaf, company-wide email).
6. More Responsibility
Employers may strive to improve efficiencies and assign more responsibilities to competent individuals. It makes sense regarding productivity, but there must be appropriate compensation. Your paycheck should increase if you work extra hours or take on more stressful tasks. These situations can otherwise lead to burnout and resentment.
Advocate for yourself if your compensation no longer reflects your job description and time commitment; however, should your employer disregard your concerns, it's time to dust off your resume.
Know When To Say When
A merger means your work environment will undoubtedly change. While the transition can be tricky, it can be a good thing. Allow for some time to adjust, but be on the lookout for blatant signs of disrespect or lack of direction. Take your time with your decision to leave.
Should you be in a position where your exit is imminent, wait to give notice until you have a firm job offer on the table. Don't slack off; hold yourself to a high standard, even if the merger was ultimately a disappointment.
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