Abbott Vascular


Human Resources


6,500 Employees

Integrating a New Culture Post-Merger

When a large pharmaceutical company acquired a smaller start-up company in the medical device space, the culture integration proved to be the most difficult obstacle of the acquisition. Employees at the start-up, thrived in an entrepreneurial culture with little oversight and standardization. The pharmaceutical company had a long tradition of hierarchical leadership and best practices that needed to be incorporated for the company to thrive.

Having acquired several companies in the past, the pharmaceutical company simply instituted the same practices they had used before with other organizations and it failed miserably. With an incredibly high turnover rate, low engagement results and a culture of anger, the company changed directions and wanted to implement a change management strategy to merge the cultures together and turn the acquisition into a high-performing division.

Their goals for this project were to:

  • Socialize the new culture, mission and standards at the acquired company
  • Implement new best practices and standards
  • Redesign their HR organization to better align with future needs and technology

To accomplish these goals, the company realized they were not going to be able to deliver the standard culture integration approach they had used in previous acquisitions. In fact, that had already backfired. Instead, we created a culture integration and change management strategy to bridge both companies together.

By using the two company’s values, we created a new set of values that aligned with both – giving employees of both companies a clear path to what they had valued in the past, and what would be important going forward. Creating the values was the first step; a robust communications plan using various channels and mediums was integral to the integration’s success.

At the same time, the HR organization was going through a redesign in structure and duties – going from a transactional HR department to transformational HR partners: changing the way employees and leaders interacted with HR and how they managed daily HR activities. While changing both the culture and their HR structure at the same time was difficult, it did allow for some immediate results.

“After a large scale change management project failure, we hired bettHR. They not only turned the project around, but the feedback we received was that the change went well and had little impact to the overall business activities.”

– Brenda M., SVP, Human Resources

bettHR Solution


The First Step: Culture Change Management


The first step to integrating the two companies cultures, was to create a bridged version of the values – allowing for all employees to relate to values that were important to them. After the new values were created, we created a robust communications plan that focused on rolling out the information by their leaders – instead of coming from corporate.

Each senior leader was partnered with a HR business partner, to create an individualized communications plan to rollout the new culture to their organization. We created a standard communications toolkit for all HR partners to use as their baseline, and then worked closely with each leader to ensure their specific organizational needs were being met.

Using HR’s New Skills to Actively Move into Strategic Roles

By changing the culture and HR’s responsibilities at the same time, it provided an unique opportunity to allow HR to immediately create new value with each of their leaders. Instead of being asked to process address changes, HR was designing culture rollout plans and partnering with their leaders to deliver the change management strategy.

Through this partnership, HR was instantly recognized as having new strategic capabilities and any questions around the value of the new HR organization, were left unasked – as each business partner proved their worth through the culture rollout. HR was also able to use the goodwill they created during this change, to continue to provide strategic value and leverage their time more efficiently going forward.

Business Results

By creating a tactical and strategic change management plan and communications, bettHR delivered:

More Value and Ownership

Leaders across the organization felt a part of the culture changes, not as though they were being thrust upon them by “corporate.” Instead, they felt ownership about the new company and was leading the culture changes from the front – bringing their employees along on the journey without issue or struggle. It no longer felt like their organization was being taken over, instead it felt like they were creating the next iteration.

Increased Engagement and Retention Rates

By collaborating with leaders, employees stayed – they no longer saw the big pharmaceutical company as a threat, and wanted to continue working on their projects with more resources. The spend for retention bonuses decreased significantly and employees expressed a connection with the company.

HR Transformation Had Little Resistance

With HR immediately adding strategic value, there was little resistance from the organization about the new transformational structure of HR. Instead, leaders were actively seeking out new ways to leverage the redesigned HR organization for the first time – allowing for more partnerships and results, than ever before.

“bettHR worked with us to turn our culture around when everything that had worked so well in past, failed us. I’m not sure how we would have implemented the changes without their strategy and rollout.”

– Shane F., VP, Marketing

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