Any business that regularly transfers employees, or has experienced a merger or acquisition, will be familiar with the challenges of managing inherited teams.
Integrating new employees into an existing company’s culture and values is not easy; it’s a challenging and unsettling time for employees too. In the facilities management sector – where around 80% of the workforce has TUPE transferred at some point – the issue is especially acute.
Speaking to HR Grapevine, Scott Hill, HR Director - Commercial at Interserve, explains how the facilities management industry can best tackle the challenge of inherited teams: “Facilities management professionals manage and maintain the estates and assets of some of the UK’s leading organisations. In the outsourcing industry, accounts change hands regularly and teams often experience the transfer process multiple times; Interserve alone has transferred 23,000 employees.
“This frequency of change can cause ‘transfer fatigue’ among teams, making it harder to spark engagement with a new employer. Outsourced facilities management professionals also tend to work offsite at customers’ buildings which can add to feelings of detachment. They often develop a greater sense of loyalty to what remains constant throughout their working experience – the property, building or estate they help maintain.
“Support services employees who are passionate about the places they maintain are a valuable asset: good facilities management is all about making sure the working environment enhances the customer experience. When inheriting new colleagues, one of the best ways to integrate them is to emphasise the similarities between our company culture and our customer culture, making employees feel part of our team while encouraging their commitment to delivering excellent service on behalf of the customer’s organisation.
“It’s not just about the messages conveyed, it’s about how they are communicated. Employers should adopt a multifaceted, regular programme of engagement to effectively share their vision, strategy, business values and ways of working with new colleagues. With employees often concerned about how their roles will change, this is also important to reassure them and keep them up to date on what’s happening at every stage of the process.
“At the start of a new account, we send targeted, frequent communications from printed and email newsletters to online videos over an extended period of time. Employees also have access to an online portal which allows them to obtain information wherever they are. By ensuring teams aren’t reliant on one communication channel alone and have multiple interfaces with their new employer, this approach helps to maintain engagement and momentum throughout the transition process. Face-to-face communications are an essential part of the process so we hold regular workshops with small groups. By including senior team members in these meetings, employers can show visible leadership to new colleagues and demonstrate their value to the business. This also gives them a chance to feed into the process at the highest level.
“Ultimately, the key to successfully integrating employees is to tailor the process to their needs, channelling their loyalty and enthusiasm and acknowledging that things won’t happen overnight.”