Making frequent acquisitions more manageable for HR

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By Heidi tenBroek | 24 July 2018


With a business strategy of expansion through acquisition, a chemical distribution company was facing the disruption and strain on resources of near constant merger activity. While the HR team recognized that every acquisition has unique challenges, the team needed a process that could be replicated and was flexible. They also needed an extra set of hands―a business partner that understood their organization and had the technical and practical knowledge to assist.

The company’s strategy was to bring each acquired organization “into the fold” in terms of HR policies and practices, payroll, and timekeeping, as well as benefits and other employee programs, as quickly and smoothly as possible. The objectives for the communication strategy for each acquisition were to:

  • Reduce disruption as much as possible during the transition
  • Manage expectations during the integration process
  • Motivate employees to take action when needed
  • Minimize confusion and rumors
  • Increase understanding of new roles, responsibilities, and resources
  • Ensure employees feel like they understand what is happening and why it is happening
  • Promote the company’s robust centralized HR services and resources


Milliman’s expertise in compensation, benefits, and HR allowed us to jump in mid-stream and be of immediate value. Our communication consultants coordinated with HR, payroll, benefits, and corporate communications departments in addition to attorneys, other consultants, retirement plan administrators, insurance companies, and the HR teams from the organizations being acquired. We created:

  • A detailed implementation plan
  • Key messages to employees to ensure consistent messages and tone
  • Announcements
  • Acquisition newsletter and updates (with information for both legacy and acquired employees)
  • Onboarding kits
  • Meeting slide decks
  • Payroll and time system transition materials
  • Benefit enrollment kits
  • Manager guides
  • Retirement fund mapping information
  • Summary plan descriptions

Each communication piece, including the implementation plan, was designed to be usable (with modification) for the next acquisition. We developed multiple versions of key pieces to meet the needs of particular audiences.


The company continued to partner with Milliman on subsequent acquisitions. Having a robust strategy and set of materials to start from provided the team with a solid foundation so they could concentrate more on the unique details of each deal. Newly acquired employees had the information they needed to quickly understand their new benefits and make enrollment choices.