The Role of HR in M&A: Retaining Talent Through an Acquisition

Author: Meridith Frein, Director of Human Resources, Valsoft

With the excitement of an acquisition, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game, focusing solely on bottom lines and potential returns. However, what truly makes or breaks the success of an acquisition lies within the people who drive the business forward. Retaining key employees isn’t just about maintaining continuity; it’s about preserving institutional knowledge, fostering a positive culture, and ensuring a smooth transition post-acquisition.

One of the first steps in retaining key talent during an acquisition is to identify who those key individuals are. These are the employees who possess specialized skills, hold crucial institutional knowledge, or have built strong relationships within clients and customers. They are the backbone of the company, and their departure could result in significant setbacks for the newly acquired business.

Neglecting this step could prove costly. Studies indicate that nearly half of key employees exit within a year of an acquisition, with a staggering 75% departing within three years. This emphasizes the urgency of recognizing and retaining key talent promptly.

Once identified, it’s essential to engage with these key employees early in the acquisition process. Transparency is key here. Be open about the changes that are coming, address any concerns they may have, and emphasize their importance to the future success of the organization. This helps alleviate anxieties and demonstrates a commitment to their continued growth and development within the company.

Offering retention incentives can also be a powerful tool. This could include bonuses tied to performance metrics or opportunities for career advancement within the larger organization. Aligning their interests with those of the company enhances the likelihood of retaining their expertise during the transition period.

Furthermore, it is crucial to create a supportive and inclusive work environment. Foster open communication channels, provide opportunities for professional development, and encourage collaboration across teams. When employees feel valued and supported, they’re more likely to remain loyal to the organization, even amidst significant changes.

It’s also essential to recognize that retaining key talent isn’t just about the short-term success of the acquisition; it’s about laying the foundation for long-term growth and sustainability. These individuals play a pivotal role in integrating the newly acquired business into the larger organization, bridging gaps, and sharing best practices. Their expertise and institutional knowledge can accelerate the integration process and drive operational efficiencies, ultimately leading to greater success down the line.

Retaining key talent during an acquisition is not just a nicety; it’s a strategic necessity. By identifying, engaging, and retaining key employees, organizations can ensure a smoother transition and set themselves up for success in the post-acquisition phase. After all, it’s the people who make the difference, and investing in their retention is investing in the future success of the business.

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Investment Partner

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