Mergers and acquisitions can be great for business – but you can end up in a real fix if you don’t keep your key employees through the transition.
Employees tend to leave for some very basic reasons: They may not feel that their jobs are secure (especially if they recently watched some of their co-workers get laid off or fired), or they’re simply unsure about their new job duties and uncomfortable with the new company’s leadership. Some may simply hate what they see as the imposition of a new company culture over the old.
So, how do you keep your best people from jumping ship? Here are some suggestions:
1. Don’t make changes without listening
Your employees want to be heard. Every merger or acquisition brings about some changes, but you would be ill-advised not to take your core employee’s feelings about those changes into account. Find out what they love about the old company (and way of doing things) – and what they think could be done better. Make it clear that you are open to suggestions (and criticism) as things develop.
2. Locate the key “keepers” on your team
You want to put most of your efforts into retaining your best employees – not the ones with the most important titles. You may identify redundancies in your management staff but the person that keeps a key operation running smoothly is irreplaceable, so focus your energy on them. Have meetings with your key players to let them know that you value them, discuss the benefits of staying with the company and gauge their satisfaction level.
3. Up the ante with a retention bonus
Retention bonuses can go a long way to help you keep your best workers. Surveys indicate that the vast majority of employees who feel engaged at work would only switch jobs for 20% more than they’re making now. If you value someone, show them your appreciation in dollars and cents – or stock options and other benefits. Rewards, incentive programs and performance-based bonuses can also help.
When you’re approaching a merger or acquisition, experienced legal guidance can help you avoid serious mistakes.