A merger or acquisition can be a time of immense excitement as you contemplate the future, weigh the potential for growth, and consider what’s next. For employees, the process can feel terrifying. Mergers are designed to fuel growth. That means the company the merger creates may need to eliminate waste. Employees know this, and they fear they’ll be cut. But for your merger to succeed, you must keep your best team members. Don’t wait until the last minute. Work now to retain your best people. Here’s how to do it.
Create the Right Selection Criteria
As you research merger options and plan for integration, you must also research the skills, experiences, and knowledge that are most critical to keeping your company afloat. Next, look for people who have institutional knowledge. They may not always be your most visible or senior people, so it’s important to make decisions according to actual value and knowledge, not arbitrary titles.
Do a Background Investigation
As you get closer to closing the deal, it’s time to formally investigate each team member. Conduct a pre-employment screening just as you would if you were hiring people fresh. Don’t rely on the promises of the acquired company. Decide which criteria matter most, then rigorously investigate them.
Practice Clear, Consistent Communication
When the merger is done, you’ll need to communicate openly with teams from both companies. Stress, doubt, and fear can sap productivity. Cultural integration issues can destroy even promising businesses. Give employees clear guidance. If you plan to let someone go, let them know ahead of time. They’ll appreciate the heads up, and will likely be more productive as a result.
Keep communications respectful (free of passive aggression or judgment), concise, and straightforward. When your team feels included, they treat the company with respect and are more likely to actively support the merger.
Practice Appreciation and Integration
It’s not enough to merely select the employees you wish to retain. What you do after the merger is the key to whether your employees stick around. The employees you consider most valuable are also valuable to other businesses. So make them feel appreciated by bringing them into the fold of the new business as quickly as you can. Some effective strategies include:
- Updating their work stations and business cards expeditiously.
- Creating integrated teams that include members of both the old and new business.
- Creating an onboarding program for new staff that gets them up to date and educates them about company culture.
- Planning one-on-one meetings for new team members with their managers. Encourage managers to be supportive, not critical, and advise them of the value of the employees they manage.
- Asking for feedback from new and old employees. Ask what they value about company culture and what they would like to see change.
- Improving benefits and pay—not slashing them.
- Explaining to the team how much you value them. Vocalizing your appreciation can do a lot of good.