What Are Effective Methods for Retaining Key Talent During M&A Transitions?


    What Are Effective Methods for Retaining Key Talent During M&A Transitions?

    In the complex landscape of mergers and acquisitions (M&A), retaining key talent is paramount, as a Senior Principal Consultant emphasizes. Alongside their expert advice, we've gathered five additional answers that shed light on proven methods to keep your best people on board. From maintaining open communication to conducting regular feedback sessions, discover a spectrum of strategies that can help navigate the transitional tides of M&A.

    • Engage Key Talent Directly
    • Maintain Open Lines of Communication
    • Offer Equity Incentives
    • Provide Career Development Opportunities
    • Preserve Core Company Culture
    • Conduct Regular Feedback Sessions

    Engage Key Talent Directly

    Engage them! It sounds fairly basic, but I've found time and again that many acquirers take their time identifying and assessing key talent, then tiptoe around engaging them and asking what they want. Engage them! If the target has key talent, then pull them into the deal, show them the value/opportunity of the deal, understand their career aspirations, and assign them roles in the transaction. What is a better way to assess talent than when they have a clear role/outcome, in the thick of it, and working in conjunction (not just parallel) with the acquirer.

    We take a similar human-centric approach to M&A and the broader workforce. We leverage the workforce as a tool to drive change by building a strategy that engages your employees. Your workforce can be accelerators or impediments to change; it's critical for the workforce to own the integration.

    Adam HartsteinSenior Principal Consultant, Point B

    Maintain Open Lines of Communication

    M&A transactions can certainly create uncertainty (and anxiety) for many employees involved or impacted. Additionally, these efforts typically create a larger workload for an extended period of time. In addition to providing retention bonuses to key employees, it's equally important to deploy effective change management and transparency in communication, to the extent possible. Communicating the potential transaction to key employees pre-closing is critical to ensure business continuity and strong employee morale. They should be informed about what is expected to happen, potential changes to occur, and timing. Key management should have the opportunity to speak with the acquiring company pre-close to hear their message and strategy. If key managers are kept in the loop and feel positive about the change, they can then carry that message to the employees with confidence. This will go a long way toward employee retention and keeping employees focused and engaged.

    Thomas CipollaM&A Consultant, RGP

    Offer Equity Incentives

    Offering equity incentives is a powerful motivator for key employees to stay committed during and after merger and acquisition processes. These incentives align the interests of employees with those of the company, giving them a tangible stake in the future success of the newly formed entity. This method signals to employees that they are valued and that there is a financially rewarding reason to stay.

    Equity incentives can help foster a sense of loyalty and shared destiny. Explore what equity options could be appropriate for your team and begin those conversations as soon as possible.

    Provide Career Development Opportunities

    Empowering employees with the chance to grow and refine their skills can act as a strong retention tool during periods of corporate transition. Offering career development and upskilling opportunities assures team members that their personal growth is a priority, even as the company evolves. This approach not only helps keep your team engaged but also ensures that the organization is building a more proficient workforce equipped to handle new challenges.

    It's a win-win situation: employees feel their career goals are supported, and the company benefits from their enhanced skills. Invest in your employees' growth and watch them lead your organization into its new chapter.

    Preserve Core Company Culture

    Preserving the core cultural elements of a company during mergers and acquisitions is crucial for retaining key talent. Employees often identify with and are motivated by the company's culture, and dramatic changes can prompt unease or dissatisfaction. By providing stability in the company's cultural values and practices, employees can find solace amidst the changes.

    A recognizable and consistent company culture provides a touchstone of familiarity for employees. Reinforce the aspects of your company culture that employees cherish to help them navigate through the changes ahead.

    Conduct Regular Feedback Sessions

    Regular feedback and support sessions have proven to be an indispensable practice for keeping key employees engaged during organizational shifts. These sessions provide a platform for employees to express their concerns and receive the support they need to navigate the changes. It also gives management a chance to clarify expectations and reveal how employees' contributions fit into the new company’s objectives.

    This two-way exchange can help mitigate misunderstandings and align employees’ personal goals with the strategic direction of the company. Continuously reach out for feedback from your team to keep them at the core of the transition, fostering strong loyalty and commitment.