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Adecco’s Journey through Organizational Transformation

There are many different reasons organizations need change – merging different cultures, global expansion, declining sales, outdated practices and the list goes on. No matter what the reason, organizational transformation is no easy task and how organizations go about implementing and sustaining change is imperative to its success.
13 octobre 2010
Jeryl Mitchell

[ Version française ]

The recent economic climate has forced organizations of all sizes and industries to take a closer look at their fundamental structure in an effort to weather the storm and come out on top. There are many different reasons organizations need change – merging different cultures, global expansion, declining sales, outdated practices and the list goes on. No matter what the reason, organizational transformation is no easy task and how organizations go about implementing and sustaining change is imperative to its success.

Adecco Group underwent a major acquisition in the first quarter of 2010 where they were faced with the challenge of merging two corporate cultures. A successful merger and acquisition goes far beyond the marketplace’s financial valuation and it is much more about the people involved and how they can move forward together.

The integration process at Adecco is like a journey with several key challenges along the way that are inevitable in any organizational transformation, and centered on talent management, cultural sensitivities, and harmonization. Adecco’s strategy was to take a “best of the best” approach to work through these areas in order to do what’s best for the colleagues, clients and associates on both sides of the organization. By focusing on doing the right thing and making the right decisions not only for the business but also for a company’s employees, you are much more likely to see success through organizational transformation because in the end, people are a company’s most valuable asset.

As the largest staffing company in the world, connecting more than 500,000 individuals with quality jobs across the globe every day, no one knows this truth more than Adecco. Putting the right people in the right place at the right time is their job, and this merger presented them with the opportunity to practice what they preach. The first step in Adecco’s journey was to select the right leadership team with representation from both companies to lead the organization through the integration journey, once again through a “best of the best approach.” Once this team was in place, they could then focus on designing the rest of the organization and retaining top talent so that they could continue on their way towards becoming a bigger and better “new Adecco Group North America.”

Retaining top talent is critical to sustaining change at any organization because it proves that colleagues are confident in the direction of the company and want to be part of its transformation and evolution. Adecco emphasizes this internally within their own workforce by continuing to develop their training offering, performance management process and rewards program. One of the first post-merger deliverables was the launch of a centralized job board that granted colleagues across all businesses in their expanded portfolio access to all open positions across the organization, as well as the opening of a new state-of-the-art training center at their Melville headquarter location. These actions reinforced the company’s commitment to employee development and mobility.

Joining forces with MPS Group allowed Adecco to expand their offering, services and resources not only internally for their own colleagues but also externally to benefit clients and associates. Adecco has a long-standing commitment to training and offering flexibility to their associates and clients. Together with MPS, the new Adecco Group North America solidified their leadership position as the leading provider of recruitment and workforce solutions and is now able to connect even more job seekers and companies in even more locations and more industries and skillsets.

Another critical component of a successful merger is preserving key aspects of the culture both sides are comfortable with. A “build it and they will come” approach to organizational transformation usually does not end well, nor does mandating one company’s culture over another’s. Instead, an integration must be an organic and carefully executed process. Adecco took several steps to ensure the joining of the two companies was a true merger and not simply an acquisition. They adopted the phrase “succeeding together” and used this slogan throughout all communications to continuously remind themselves of the intention to preserve both cultures and take the “best of the best.” Adecco also conducted a comprehensive culture survey at the beginning of the integration process to benchmark where each company was and identify areas they could focus on moving forward to “succeed together” and become a stronger company once integrated.

The last thing to keep in mind when empowering your employees in the process of cultivating organizational change is that while a company’s number one priority is to focus on their people, the people then need to have as their number one priority to focus on the business and on providing the best possible service, regardless of what is going on in the broader organization. Facilitating a seamless transition of business processes with minimal distraction to colleagues and clients was a high priority at Adecco. This continuity is critical to a successful merger and to any transformation. It is the role of human resources to focus on the people so that they can in turn focus on their jobs.

And for people that work at Adecco, their job is to help people build careers and help companies meet their talent needs. In this way, the success of Adecco’s organizational transformation has the potential to impact so many more individuals and other organizations in their own HR strategies. As Adecco evolves and changes the way they work, they are also changing the way the world works.

Jeryl Mitchell, CHRO, Adecco

Source : Effectif, volume 13, numéro 4, septembre/octobre 2010.


Jeryl Mitchell