As an HR professional, sometimes it is difficult to work with different terms of employment. The increase in mergers and acquisitions over the past few years does not make it any easier. Especially not when it comes to harmonising these different terms of employment. This can cause a lot of dissatisfaction and even stalemates. That is why a flawless harmonization process is very important. In this article you will learn how to apply a simple model for harmonising terms of employment in 4 steps.
The 4 steps
- Clarify current arrangements: find out which terms of employment will apply after the merger or acquisition and clarify at what points there are differences and similarities.
- Create harmonisation calculation and – proposal: with a calculation model you can create quantitative insights into how the different terms are related to one another. Implications for the whole population as well as on an individual level can serve as the basis for the harmonisation proposal. Harmonisation always affects the personal and financial situation of employees. This is something to be aware of throughout the process. Compensation, resettlement or compensation can make the situation more bearable for employees.
- Consult with trade unions and Works Councils (WC): partly through the review of the merger conduct at the end of 2015, companies are inclined to make reports of mergers and acquisitions earlier to the Socio-Economic Council. This gives trade unions more time to better defend the rights of staff. In addition, the right of consent law requires changes to certain working conditions to be submitted to the WC. The early involvement of unions and the WC is therefore essential in creating support and continuous progress.
- Customise per employee: as mentioned, such a process touches every employee. Therefore, each employee should be approached individually with a proposal and the implications on paper, explained in conversation.
Key success factors for implementation
When going through the process, carefully applying change management is the key to success. Experience shows that clear and timely communication of the cause and consequences of a harmonisation process accelerates the acceptance among employees. Transparency, fairness and speed are primary elements in this. The progress must be continuously monitored so that it can be adjusted and communicated well in time. And often it is important to distinguish the different target groups, because they all have their own communication preferences.
Harmonization projects of terms of employment are delicate and should therefore be carefully dealt with. The changes that such pathways trigger, are noticeable on an individual level. For that reason, ultimately, it is a matter of creating a new situation that the people accept and preferably are satisfied with. With the 4 steps as discussed – clarification of arrangements, creation of proposal, consultation with WC and customisation – this is absolutely feasible.