Implementing European restructuring

Implementing European restructuring, Pharma group, Europe, 3500 employees.

  • Integration exercise after a takeover, at European level
  • The European HQ in Belgium are moved to Switzerland
  • There will also be a restructuring in 6 support services
  • The group management has no experience at all with such an exercise
  • 12 countries are involved in the restructuring
  • All legal obligations must be strictly observed
  • Synchronization of the announcement is a critical success factor


  • Several work sessions with the integration team show that the company has no experience whatsoever with an integration process and all the related legal and social aspects.


  • Square Circle is appointed as the driving force of the entire integration plan at European level (12 countries involved) for industrial relations, communication, people, change and crisis management.


  • Preparation of a Road Map Masterplan based on our Road Map tool for restructuring.
  • Allows you to prepare and monitor all aspects of the integration exercise.
  • On this basis, we involve the local HR to draw up their own Road Map under the supervision of Square Circle.
  • Organised approx. 80 work sessions to draw up and monitor the entire plan.
  • Gave approx. 30 trainings on dealing with change, communication in difficult times across Europe and communicating convincingly.
  • SQC organises the Social Crisis Masterclass in 3 potentially critical countries.


  • Announcement went perfectly according to plan
  • Social relationships have not been harmed. Much care has been taken to ensure transparency and to maintain confidence in the preparation of the restructuring.
  • Information and consultations with trade unions went smoothly in all countries where these procedures had to be followed.
  • The integration team and management have identified the approach as the main success factor in the successful integration.
  • The integration went according to plan.
  • Uncertainty among employees is kept to a minimum.
  • Management has also emerged stronger.

Instilling new culture

Instilling new culture, Brewery group, Europe, 2000 employees.

  • Under pressure from Europe, breweries are asked to raise awareness among employees about (excessive) alcohol consumption.
  • Message needs to reach the entire company.
  • There are specific “risk groups”.
  • Distribution, carriers, …
  • Catering vendors
  • Production
  • In our case, also 5 countries


  • A traditional campaign (e.g. with posters) will not have the intended effect
  • The choice is made to involve the managers in the campaign as well as the Fund that is already responsible for the well-being of the employees within the company.
  • A “model” of the approach is drawn up and tested in 3 countries. The findings lead to the definitive approach.
  • Before the campaign starts, managers are informed and “trained” (sessions).


We worked on 3 levels:


  • 8-minute video (broaching the issue)
  • Group discussion according to specific guidelines with the help of an external facilitator
  • Closure by manager: concrete action points and follow-up + information about what the Fund can do for people who need it.


  • Entire campaign took 18 months
  • Very positively received by managers and employees
  • Problems with alcohol use were discussed in various work sessions
  • Team discussions: a whole series of recommendations were given to sales and distribution people to better deal with the social pressures of customers.
  • Recommendations came from the colleagues themselves, which makes them very concrete and applicable.
      • The brewery group realised that there was no uniform policy on alcohol consumption and that the internal rules (and sanctions policy) on alcohol consumption were not really known or consistently applied.

      Improving plant performance

      Improving plant performance, international production unit,
      1500 people.

      • Increasing quality problems having a negative impact on productivity and delivery agreements.
      • Difficult to mobilise people to do something about it because the union is blocking everything: status quo is the only option for them.
      • Occupational accident rate is too high.
      • Factory was taken over a year earlier.
      • New management needs to bring in a breath of fresh air because the conversion costs are too high and there is too little flexibility.
      • If not, the future of the factory is at stake.


      Listening sessions based on volunteers (union imposed). More than 250 people.

      10 specific critical issues emerged from sessions.

      1.Lack of credibility and trust of supervisors

      2.Lack of willingness to listen to the staff on the part of the management

      3.Fragmented responsibilities on the lines

      4.Inadequate production planning

      5.Holiday planning scheduled in a way that leads to production loss

      6.Insufficient application of safety regulations

      7.Poor communication across the production lines

      8.Need for a new mode of consultation with the unions (paralysis)

      9.Better “mobilisation” of employees on the machines to improve quality

      10.Problem with some persons


      • Choice to present full report, unedited and in detail, to the entire plant (transparency) through group sessions.
      • Executive Team coached to implement the 3-year strategy and involving every level down to the operational staff
      • Action taken to not only tackle the problems top-down, but also bottom-up by involving and showing appreciation for the supervisors and employees.
      • Plan drawn up to gain the trust of trade unions step by step through a transparent policy and to make them aware of the importance of changes to ensure the future of the factory through a “didactic approach”..


      • Cascade for the implementation of the strategy has been introduced.
      • Communication of the content from the listening sessions has worked as a catharsis. Employees have finally been able to make their complaints public.
      • The approach of the unions was critically examined by employees who are open to improvements (future).
      • 10 areas have been addressed with concrete proposals and actions (3-year step-by-step plan)
      • Personal problems among Executive Team members have been fixed.
      • Quality has improved, will be continued.
      • Relationship with unions is less tense.

      Greater transparency ensures a better climate in the factory. Employees are more involved in the change processes. Major trouble spots in the work organisation have finally been thoroughly addressed.