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Employees are understandably anxious during an acquisition, but frequent and honest communication can ease their concerns.
A successful merger requires a foundation of clear and honest communication with employees during — and after — the merger process. Employees need to know what to expect and need to feel heard. Without this, employees might become anxious over their future and the future of their company. Performance can suffer. Here's the best way to avoid that unsavory result:
Communication for Newly-Acquired Employees: WIIFM
For managers with employees from the newly-acquired organization, the challenge is to integrate both teams as quickly as possible. The new employees will have many personal concerns and managers must quickly discover and address these issues. Understandably, the idea of “what’s in it for me?” —commonly referred to as WIIFM — should be the starting point. In other words, look at the situation from the employee perspective. They will want to know how their work life is about to change and they expect answers quickly. Keep them at ease by talking about the following post-merger changes: 1. Process the integration. What has already happened? What is next? What is the timeline? Will employees be let go? This communication needs to happen both at the corporate level and at the team/individual level; coordinate your communications with the broad corporate communications strategy to be sure you remain consistent. 2. Structure of the new organization. How is the organizational structure changing? What does this mean for the new employee? Where will the new employee fit in the new organizational structure? Will their title remain the same? Will their role remain the same? 3. KPIs and expectations. Let employees know what is expected of them, such as revenue expected to be generated or other key performance indicators (KPIs). In short, they need to know how to perform well and meet expectations in the new culture. 4. Pay and benefits. Employees are worried about their bottom line just like employers are. They want to know how their pay, seniority and benefits will be impacted. Will there be a pay change? Rank change? What other changes are expected? It will take time for most employees to accept change. Communication needs to continue throughout this process. The key here is to have communication, consistency and feedback. Communicate answers to the questions above, be sure your actions are consistent with what is communicated and listen to — and truly consider — employee feedback. Continue this process as your employees slowly gain their footing in their new environment and trust in their new supervisor.