October 13, 2023

Avoiding Talent Attrition in M&A

This LinkedIn newsletter from Swaney Group Advisors addresses the challenge of retaining key talent during an acquisition or merger — step 10 in their 11-step process for post-merger integration. Before addressing retention, the newsletter notes the importance of taking a nuanced approach to identifying key talent. It suggests gathering data and having conversations internally to identify anyone “instrumental in driving team cohesion, innovation, or client satisfaction” so that individuals who may be crucial to the integration process but may not be in top-tier roles aren’t overlooked in retention efforts.

When seeking to retain this broader group, the newsletter highlights important strategies beyond financial incentives, focused on communication, career development and culture:

– Regular town hall meetings, feedback sessions, and transparent communication channels are essential to quell anxieties and fortify trust. Moreover, leaders who actively engage in these dialogues signal commitment, fostering a culture of mutual respect and understanding.

– Offering clear career progression paths, continuous learning opportunities, and exposure to cross-functional projects can make employees see the merger as an avenue for enhanced career trajectory.

– Merging companies often means blending disparate corporate cultures. Ensuring that this blend is harmonious and inclusive can prevent potential fractures in the team. Celebrating cultural differences, organizing team integration events, and promoting mutual respect are steps that can foster a united, cohesive workforce.

In addition to these strategies, “financial acknowledgment remains crucial.” Periodic benchmarking can ensure competitive compensation packages for key employees.

To that end, the team at WTW asked us to share that they are currently conducting a survey of incentive structures and strategies companies use to retain key employees during an acquisition. The survey results should provide useful benchmarking information to shape retention programs more efficiently. WTW will provide a complimentary full report of the survey results to participants who complete the survey before October 27.

Meredith Ervine