How to Retain Key Talent in an Acquisition
Organizations have a hard enough time retaining good talent these days. Careers have become more a collection of assignments than a collection of seniority pins and gold watches. Work has come to be seen as more an activity than a place. Because of this, the feeling of company belonging and loyalty is a rarer experience than when 20-year stints at the patriarchal corporation were the norm. Introduce a destablizing event like a merger or acquisition into the picture, and the precarious ties holding employees in their current jobs begin to loosen even further.
The nature of today’s deals makes this erosion of loyalty still more of an issue. So many of today’s mergers and acquisitions are not really based on the idea of purchasing hard assets such as plants and equipment. Due to the growth of the service industry, the de-emphasis of leveraged buyouts, and the increase in the value of knowledge, a large percentage of today’s purchases and consolidations represent a pursuit of “soft assets.” These soft assets represent the knowledge of the workforce in the target company—for example, the value of patents, relationships with clients, and the opportunities that lie ahead because of the expertise surrounding new products and services under development. Many of today’s deals are attractive financial propositions solely because of the knowledge of the people in the company being acquired.
What can be done to protect the investment in this sort of merger or acquisition? One key answer is to conduct a rapid, well-organized, and persuasive re-recruitment effort aimed at the key talent you want to retain. . . .