By Yewande Ayowole-Oso, HR Director, Anglophone West Africa at Schneider Electric

Business continuity and longevity remain a focal point for businesses in the constantly evolving world. In a time of emerging technologies, acquisitions, and an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce, HR teams have emerged as all-important contributors to organisational business continuity.

The ever-transforming global workplace has triggered a rapid shift in how HR professionals around the world adapt to these changes. Indeed, the HR team’s role has moved beyond personnel managers to strategic business contributors.  And like our counterparts across the globe, Nigerian HR teams are now focusing on delivering strategies for employee wellbeing, diversity, equity, inclusion, and talent retention – all to realise business continuity.

The focus now is on harnessing the potential of employees within the organisation, growing a pool of truly talented individuals who will contribute to organisational success whilst working in a nurturing, opportunity-abound environment.

Critical to the above, are HR professionals’ ability to understand the nuances of the organisations’ operations well enough to develop a strategy which contributes towards corporates’ focus on business success and longevity. The areas in which the HR function can contribute strategically are highlighted below.

Realising acquisition success

Acquisition and partnerships play a vital role in ensuring business continuity. However, these are very sensitive processes in business growth and how this is managed can make a dramatic difference in the desired organisational growth.

HR teams play a pivotal role in organisations’ acquisition endeavours. Navigating cultural integration, especially during acquisitions, demands finesse and cultural awareness, which HR’s business acumen helps achieve.

Whilst Nigeria might not experience acquisitions frequently on a local level, it is safe to say that if you are part of a global HR team, your role, like your global counterparts, will be to ensure that the process runs smoothly.

When going through an acquisition process, HR’s role starts early, even before the ink dries, as the team is responsible for establishing a clear and transparent communication path amongst the stakeholders.

The ability to conduct cultural due diligence becomes paramount, ensuring a smooth transition by identifying potential clashes and differences whilst identifying existing similarities and areas of strength.

Importantly, it is HR’s role to assist employees, both existing and from the acquired entity, to ease into a newly merged organisation by integrating and redefining the culture and corporate values of the newly evolving organisation.

Fundamental to successful business growth is ensuring that the merging companies develop a shared vision, mission, and strategy. The HR team remains critical in building trust and solidifying relationships during and after the acquisition process.

In summary, the first step is unpacking the merging organisation’s existing culture by discontinuing current practices, attitudes, and behaviours. The second stage is transition which involves familiarising the workforce with new concepts based on a desired culture. The final stage is establishing the culture by reinforcing new practices, attitudes, and behaviours.

Also, decision-making processes, collaboration tendencies, communication styles, and organisational concepts are also critical factors that will contribute to establishing an integrated plan that allows for a seamless transition and the realisation of a new organisational culture.

Additionally, change management remains a continuous process within organisations particularly during new acquisitions and partnerships. HR can play a dual role here by both initiating and leading the change and serving as a facilitator for the changes initiated by the other stakeholders. Stakeholder concerns should also be addressed, and the relevant solutions communicated to foster a successful partnership.

Technology also has an innovative role to play in smoothing the acquisition and transition process. It acts as an enabler, simplifying and streamlining processes, tasks, and enhancing productivity.

Technology and digital HR systems provide the tools with which the HR team can analyse data and provide valuable insights into changing workforce demographics, employee knowledge, skills and abilities landscape which is particularly beneficial when working with a diversified and expanding workforce.

There is no doubt that HR professionals play an integral role in a company’s acquisition and partnership processes. HR teams are responsible for the organisation’s most important asset, its people. HR has and can truly solidify its role as a strategic business partner in organisations when acquisitions and partnerships are adapted as a means of enhancing business longevity.

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