This Vine Has Sour Grapes

No question, Marvin Gaye’s I Heard it Through the Grapevine is some damn fine music. But it isn’t the way employees like to find out the corporate low-down – especially something as dramatic as corporate mergers or acquisitions since, in these cases, jobs are often on the line.

A recent survey done by de Jager & Co. Ltd. found that almost one-third of the nearly 300 respondents first learned about a company merger or acquisition through the grapevine instead of directly from the company.

More interesting is how much the channel used to inform an employee of a corporate merger or acquisition influences his or her perception of the event. The likelihood an employee, who heard about a merger through the grapevine, would perceive the move as successful was about 50/50. Those employees who heard the news through corporate channels were about three times as likely to view the move favourably. “When you hear about it from a third source you feel betrayed,” Brampton Ont.-based Peter de Jager said.

William Morrow, a project manager at Scotiabank in Toronto, has lived through a few of these situations. And he agrees with de Jager’s assessment.

“Obviously you are not going to let anybody know when it is up in the boardroom (but) once it is sort of at that point where you know it is all systems go, then that is when they should let their employees know,” he said. Morrow has been through a few mergers and acquisitions, at various jobs, and said by the time most of the employees were officially informed, they already knew about the move.

The complete survey results are available at