Say the words “merger, acquisition or takeover” around any company too loudly and you’ll probably see an immediate panic start to set in amongst the employees. When companies change hands, shift their structure or merge, employees start to get nervous.
Some of those employees probably have every reason to be anxious. Most mergers and acquisitions involve removing redundancies in operations and staffing. However, you don’t want the key players in a business to bolt because they think their job security is gone.
What can you do to encourage your top people to stay on?
You need to set the tone early – before the rumor mill starts turning. That means:
- Explain: Be honest about the reasons for the merger or acquisition and what it may mean for your company culture, your employees and the direction that the business is headed. Your employees will know if you’re leveling or lying, so truthfulness is key.
- Communicate: Recognize that uncertainty breeds stress, and stress is what makes people want to bolt. It’s better to regularly tell your employees, “There’s no new information right now,” than to let them think you’re hiding something.
- Be accessible: Don’t just have an “open door policy.” Make yourself visible and actively encourage your key people (and others) to talk with you about their concerns.
- Offer incentives: Money talks. If you want key people to stick around, make sure that you’re giving them a good reason to stay. End-of-the-year bonuses, retention bonuses and recognition rewards can help create a positive buzz around the merger or acquisition.
While every acquisition or merger comes with a lot of transactional steps that have to be managed carefully, you definitely don’t want to overlook the human element. After all, your best employees are what makes your business a success.