What Employees Really Think ─ Conducting HR and Organizational Due Diligence

People are critical to the success of your company, and it’s no different in the business you are acquiring. But how can you go beyond the surface and find out what employees really think? It is doubtful employees will be completely open and honest when asked point blank, “Do you like your job?”

One of the best sources of information when conducting human resources due diligence are employee satisfaction surveys, especially those conducted by a third party. These surveys are not only telling about employees but also about management and the organization as a whole.

Review historical employee satisfaction survey results and look for key metrics and trends. It’s also wise to look at remediation – how has management responded to complaints in the past? This may provide insight into the management team, working styles and organizational culture.

When we’re consulting on integration, one metric my firm looks at is turnover. Is there high turnover within a department when benchmarked against this industry or the rest of the company? If so, why is this happening? In certain situations of unusually high turnover, we found that the department manager had been there forever but was an ogre to work with. Anyone with any intelligence who came into that department pretty much got run out because the manager felt threatened!

You can also discover “green buckets,” or opportunities, within the survey results. If employees are dissatisfied with their old computers, now may be the time for an upgrade. In one case we noticed employees had really old monitors. We found that the owner had upgraded the computers, but viewed upgrading the monitors or keyboards as unimportant. For our client, it was relatively inexpensive to purchase new monitors and employees were very happy with the upgrade. Look for these opportunities to form a positive relationship with your new employees.

An acquisition can cause anxiety for employees. Anything you do as the buyer that says “We care about you” will help reassure employees and make for a smoother integration process.