Acquisitions present unsettling times for all involved in the corporate structure of a company. Anxiety always rises when something new and potentially threatening shows up. If employees start to feel like their jobs are at risk or their position within the company will be diminished it can lead to massive flights of workers from your labor pool. As a manager there are plenty of steps you can take to prevent the loss of your most productive workers.
Building up trust before, during, and after an acquisition is key to establishing clear communication. Whether your employee has been there for decades or months, they are all looking to you for clear answers in times of transitions. Specifically if an employee is new, make sure they still get training they require–often times new personnel’s needs fall by the wayside in hectic times. Create time and space to communicate with them one on one so that you can keep on top of unfounded fears. Make sure you have clear, honest answers for all questions and be forthright if you don’t have an answer. Making up something to assuage a fear feels easy in the moment but could have drastic consequences if it comes back on you. This goes double for information regarding individuals’ livelihood like benefits and salary. The sooner you can inform your employees of tangible ideas of what their compensation will look like, the smoother things will run for you in retaining the employees you want to keep. Some other key elements to keep your employees up to date on; integration planning, communication planning and organizational alignment.
Keep your eye on all your employees strengths and weaknesses, and do your best to understand them and their needs at an individual level. Everyone reacts to stress differently, anticipating what needs will keep your employees focused and unburdened by concern means anticipating what individual responses will be required. Incentive programs can be useful during these times as it gives clear goals for people to accomplish and clear rewards for meeting such goals. Of course above all else it is imperative you make your decision off of merit at this time. Everyone is already looking for an excuse to cry “nepotism”, don’t give them any reason to suggest it.
An acquisition might mean many things to many people. You will be dealing with fears, concerns, anxieties, uncertainty because human beings rarely react well to potential threats. The best solution to absolve these negative emotions is to be honest and forthright. Putting all your employees in a position to make the best decision for themselves shows them you’re invested in them regardless of who they work for. That level of honesty can only reaffirm to the people you want to retain that staying put is the best place for them.