Situation: A company was recently acquired. The acquirer wants to merge benefit structures between the two entities. While company contributions are similar, distribution of benefits between retirement plans, health plans, and other benefits between the entities varies considerably. How do you approach the staff about the changes in a positive manner?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Ideally, you want to survey employees on what is and is not important to them about their benefits before the package is finalized. This will help you negotiate on your employees’ behalf.
- Ask the acquirer whether a “cafeteria” benefit program is feasible. This would allow your employees to make choices among benefit options, and to fund these choices either at a company-paid base level or to supplement their choices through payroll deductions.
- Inform the acquiring company of your state’s regulatory policies on state-specific benefits.
- Once the new benefit package is finalized, ask for assistance communicating the new package to your staff. Create a simple and concise grid for the program:
- Amount of company contribution,
- Old program and benefits,
- New program and benefits,
- Use the grid to demonstrate that while the allocation may be different, the company contribution remains the same and the total value of benefits offered is unchanged.
- If you know that a highly valued benefit is being reduced, consider a short-term subsidy to ease the shift.
- Be clear about decisions that your employees must make in the new program.
- If you have access to industry or regional comparisons for like-sized companies, you may wish to share these.
Key Words: Acquisition, Benefit Structure, Change, Employee Input, Cafeteria Plan, Options, State Requirements, Short-term Subsidy, Comparison