Discover the critical role of HR in the mergers and acquisition process, from due diligence to post-acquisition integration. Learn key strategies from SHRM 2024 to ensure M&A success.

HR’s Role in the Mergers and Acquisition Process: Insights from SHRM 2024

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are transformative events that significantly impact the future of organizations. HR professionals play a crucial role in navigating these complex processes, ensuring smooth transitions, and maintaining stability. At SHRM 2024, Elaine Johnson, Vice President of Advisory Services with Dynamic Corporate Solutions, Inc., shared her extensive experience and strategic insights on how HR leaders can effectively support their organizations through M&A. This blog highlights the key takeaways from her session, emphasizing the essential knowledge and skills HR professionals need to be M&A-ready.

Understanding the M&A Process

  1. End-to-End Mergers and AcquisitionsWhy It Matters: To effectively contribute to M&A activities, HR professionals must understand the entire M&A process, from initial planning to post-acquisition integration. This comprehensive understanding helps HR leaders anticipate challenges and prepare strategic solutions.Source: According to McKinsey & Company, a thorough grasp of the M&A lifecycle is essential for HR leaders to effectively manage human capital during these transitions .

HR’s Critical Role in M&A

  1. Due Diligence PhaseWhy It Matters: During the due diligence phase, HR’s role is to evaluate the human capital aspects of the merger or acquisition. This includes assessing organizational culture, identifying key talent, and understanding existing employee benefits and compensation structures.Action Steps:
    • Conduct a thorough cultural assessment to identify potential alignment or clashes between the merging organizations.
    • Evaluate the current workforce, focusing on critical roles and key employees who are essential for the success of the merger.
    • Review and compare employee benefits and compensation packages to identify discrepancies and potential areas for harmonization.
    Source: Deloitte emphasizes the importance of HR involvement in due diligence to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of human capital risks and opportunities .
  2. Post-Acquisition IntegrationWhy It Matters: The success of an M&A transaction heavily depends on effective post-acquisition integration. HR’s role is to facilitate this integration, ensuring that employees from both organizations are aligned with the new organizational structure and culture.Action Steps:
    • Develop a detailed integration plan that addresses key areas such as communication, employee engagement, and change management.
    • Implement strategies to harmonize employee benefits, compensation, and organizational policies.
    • Foster open communication channels to keep employees informed and engaged throughout the integration process.
    Source: Harvard Business Review highlights that successful post-acquisition integration requires a well-thought-out plan and effective communication strategies .

Why M&A Deals Fail and the Importance of Human Capital

  1. Common PitfallsWhy It Matters: Many M&A deals fail to meet their objectives due to a lack of focus on human capital. Understanding these common pitfalls helps HR leaders to proactively address potential issues and ensure a smoother transition.Common Issues:
    • Cultural mismatches that lead to employee dissatisfaction and turnover.
    • Inadequate communication, resulting in confusion and low morale.
    • Poorly managed change processes that fail to engage employees and align them with new business goals.
    Source: PwC reports that cultural integration and effective communication are critical factors that determine the success or failure of M&A deals .
  2. Impact of Human Capital on SuccessWhy It Matters: Human capital is a significant determinant of M&A success. HR’s role in managing talent, culture, and change is crucial to realizing the strategic objectives of the merger or acquisition.Action Steps:
    • Prioritize cultural integration by creating a unified vision and set of values for the new organization.
    • Develop comprehensive change management plans that include training, support, and resources for employees.
    • Monitor and address employee concerns and feedback throughout the M&A process to maintain engagement and productivity.
    Source: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) emphasizes that effective management of human capital can significantly enhance the success of M&A transactions .


HR professionals are vital to the success of mergers and acquisitions. By understanding the M&A process, actively participating in due diligence, and facilitating post-acquisition integration, HR leaders can help ensure a smooth transition and align employees with the new organizational goals. Elaine Johnson’s session at SHRM 2024 provided invaluable insights and practical strategies for HR professionals to navigate the complexities of M&A effectively. By focusing on human capital and addressing potential challenges proactively, HR can contribute significantly to the success of mergers and acquisitions.