Learn how to retain acquired employees and inform them about the change the best way. See how to prepare for the changes that will come after announcement day.
Retaining acquired employees is one of the most crucial elements of driving value in most deals. An unhappy workforce is not a productive – or profitable -- workforce, which causes value leaks in your acquisition.
This is why the employee announcement is absolutely critical. People, by nature, don’t like change. The moment you announce the deal, people will start to feel panic, stress, and fear.
Run this play to help employees prepare for the changes that will come after announcement day. Prepare to face employee’s tough questions and gain their trust. Strategically schedule your announcement, and prepare middle management to assist the transition.
Integration Lead, Deal Sponsor, Acquired Middle Managers, HR
Team collaboration, Creativity, Pen and Paper
2 weeks (when possible)
Do not wing your announcement day messaging. You need to have prepared FAQs and talking points to avoid misinformation and to cover all bases that need to be covered.
Many leaders begin by taking a victory lap, discussing how the acquisition furthers the company strategy. While these can be important things to communicate, realize that employees are usually in a state of shock and they are unlikely to be receptive to long business discussions.
Instead, move quickly to the three major concerns of the employees:
The FAQ document should go into detail about changes the employees will experience. If you don’t know the answer to a question they are likely to ask, don’t make it up. Be honest and let employees know details are still being worked out.
As you prepare your materials, take a moment and imagine yourself in the acquired employee’s shoes. Ask how you’d want to be treated and what questions you would need answered.
Middle managers are the best kept secret of successful integrators. Before the employee announcement, prepare the middle managers of the target company and start their own change process by answering the 3 major questions for them.
You should also give the middle managers a sense of what their team members are about to go through and give them tools and support to lead their team through the change. This can include mini-change management training and a preview of the FAQs.
Remember, you’re relying on the middle managers to be your trusted messengers. They will help to settle the freaked-out employees on announcement day.
Giving out swag helps employees emotionally assimilate. Prepare T-shirts, mouse pads, coffee mugs, or anything that will help them align with their new identity as a member of the acquiring company.
You need to strategically schedule your announcement. Wait too long and the rumor mill will start to catch up. Employees learning about the deal from somewhere else is not a good start for your acquisition.
Take all of the prep work you’ve done and execute with empathy.