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In the dynamic environment of the healthcare industry, mergers, and acquisitions (M&A) are reaching dizzying heights, almost becoming as certain as death and taxes. If or when you receive the memo announcing your hospital’s consolidation or your skilled nursing home (SNF) being acquired by another organization, your mind may be flooded with endless questions: Do the new owners understand the business? Will they respect our culture and accomplishments? When will we have clarity? Am I at risk? Do I still have a job? What’s the next move?
Firstly, don’t panic! While it’s natural to feel anxious and crave a quick resolution, the reality is that the process will take time and effort. Remember, the new owners are transitioning, and it can take several months to fully implement their plan. Although you may be tempted to adopt a passive approach and wait for the turbulence to subside, taking a proactive stance in shaping the changes to your advantage is important for securing ongoing employment. Embracing this proactive mindset will position you for success.
Mergers mean change; there is no doubt about it. Locations, procedures, policies, management, and staff will all be different. Since each hospital and health system has its processes, there will be a period of cultural adjustment while the two institutions merge to form one cohesive unit.
Before a merger and during the first few months of implementation, there will be fears of uncertainty and feelings of loss. As a hospital or SNF staff member, the best way to face a merger is to not let fear drive your thoughts, feelings, and decisions. Embrace change. And embrace the new culture – you might learn something constructive about how the company functions. Just as there are threats, there’s also the potential for positives, and you must actively seek them.
A wonderful way to reduce the stress of uncertainty associated with mergers is to get informed by reliable sources. Before and during a merger, water cooler gossip is readily available. However, only believe some of what you hear. Information whirling around the rumor mill can be misleading and, in many cases, complete fiction. Instead of getting information third- or fourth-hand, it is best to go straight to the source. Therefore, you should attend all information sessions, meetings, and briefings the hospital or SNF conducts. If a staff member cannot participate in informational sessions, it is advisable to inquire with the HR department to get copies of the transition information. Accurate information can significantly reduce the fear of the unknown for staff involved in a merger, minimizing panic and stress.
While mergers are often viewed as unfavorable, there can be several great benefits for staff. For example, due to additional cost savings, merged institutions can provide better employee benefits since the financial strain is reduced and more resources are available. Also, the new company may have a better budget and a be committed to growth, which could send more business and leadership opportunities your way.
Training and learning opportunities can increase since more financial resources are available, and new team members bring new thoughts, ideas, and approaches to the table. This can create an invaluable learning environment that benefits both staff and the patients they treat.
A pending M&A is the time to become open-minded and calibrate your plans and outcomes to fit the new administration. It is not the time to inquire about a raise, make demands or display an attitude of entitlement. The new leaders are not there to adapt to you. They are there to improve efficiency and quality. They will assess everyone’s value and view each person as an expense.
So, this is the time to set aside your personal agenda, find a way to relate to the new leadership and show your collaboration skills and worth. Introduce yourself to key players and ask them how you can assist with the transition and help with the integration. Sell them on how you can contribute. By making the new leaders’ job easier, you will quantify your impact and demonstrate that you can get with the program.
As an employee of the company that is being acquired you should not have to worry about your current accumulated retirement benefits as The Employee Retirement Income Security Act protects you. The firm acquiring the company knows it needs to safeguard loyalty and reassure the employees both during and after the deal.
The silence and uncertainty in a merger will be personally disruptive, and there will be a period of tension, uncertainty and even chaos. You’ll be stuck in a holding pattern while waiting for the new protocols to unfold. It may get worse before it gets better, and if you can stick it out, you may reap the rewards of many perks.
When done well, M&A can achieve valuable outcomes, according to Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the Healthcare Financial Management Association. But don’t kid yourself: There will be layoffs. On average, roughly 30 percent of employees are considered redundant after a merger or acquisition in the same industry. But you don’t have to be one of them. You can set your own trajectory by objectively assessing your situation and seizing opportunities to prove your value.
Whether you choose to stay on board, embrace the dynamic, intense integration, polish up your resume, and reconnect to your outside peer network, you have options. If you are a medical professional whose hospital or SNF has recently merged and think your employer is no longer a fit for you, it is time to turn to the experts at ALIGN Executive Search. Contact our top healthcare recruiters today to learn more!