A major corporate change, such as a merger or acquisition, tends to make the value of long-term employees obvious. The employee houses crucial intellectual capital related to customers, finances, intellectual property or whatever the case may be.
During such a volatile time, an employee who knows the company like the back of their hand makes the overall merger more seamless. The sharing of data with the acquiring or merged company is greatly facilitated when you have long-term employees who have experience transferring both the data and the company’s mission to others. Therefore, workflow is maintained and the overall consistency of the company is not lost.
Understanding all of the benefits of keeping on long-term employees during a merger or acquisition is one of the first big moves in the right direction that any company can take. Having a flimsy appreciation for those seasoned employees could potentially make the transition much more difficult.
Long-term employees also are invaluable beyond the initial phases of change and transition, and can offer long-term gains for many more years to come.
Below are reasons to consider keeping employees on as well as methods to ensure their retention:
1. Long-term employees have proven their loyalty.
While there are always exceptions, in most instances a long-term employee has proven loyalty and steadiness as attributes they offer an employer.
In this fickle and fast-changing world, having sustainable talent who stays the course throughout storms fortifies the bottom line. Long-term talent is akin to insurance that replenishes resources following economic crises and disasters. It’s the company veterans who counter the fall-out often accompanying corporate mergers, acquisitions and other such radical changes.
How to ensure their retention: Continue to show, through actions and words, that you value their loyalty. Make it a point to tell them that their employment is safe, even amid tenuous circumstances. Other clear signs of solidarity are to offer them a raise or bonus for going above and beyond or simply ensuring they know – through whatever way you can thank them – that you appreciate them.
2. Long-term employees may be more flexible than you think.
While it may be tempting for new leadership to come in, wipe the slate clean and implement newly selected staff to fulfill their objectives, take a moment to consider another way. While there may be some employees from the 'old guard' who refuse to change as the corporation morphs, others may be wide open to the opportunity if given the chance.
How to ensure their retention: Open communications including two-way forums – think all-hands meetings – will be key to figuring out who is committed to the new mission at hand and who will be resistant to change. Starting a dialogue will allow employees to authentically discuss feelings, concerns and, most of all, create and begin implementing solutions to navigate the change together, ensuring a unified approach. You might be surprised the number of old-school employees who are reinvigorated with the new approach.
3. Long-term employees understand the market.
In their years of working for the company, long-term employees have developed a nuanced approach to the market. They understand the consumers, whether clients, B2B or B2C, in ways that a new, fresh-faced employee may not. Their years of expertise have most likely helped them develop a sixth sense for what will work and what won’t work.
How to ensure their retention: Make it clear that you value and acknowledge the level of expertise and experience they bring to the table. Don’t undervalue the work they’ve put in just because you want to take the company in a different direction. Instead, look to include them in the conversation and ask their opinions on such changes.
4. Long-term employees have established relationships.
The key to any successful business is to have strong relationships with any point of contact that makes the business possible. The benefit of keeping on long-term employees is that the necessary relationships have already been established. While new employees may be more likely to adapt quickly to the new mission set forth for the company, they will cost the company time when it comes to developing necessary relationships.
How to ensure their retention: Make it clear that you respect them and the relationships that they’ve already formed as representatives of the company. Don’t ask them to pass the relationship over or make introductions for someone else; instead allow them to take the lead in ways that they normally would.
5. Long-term employees understand the company as it was.
The best way to not make the same mistake twice is to have someone around who was there when the mistake was made in the first place. Long-term employees knew the company as it was and in turn have a deep understanding of the missteps it may have taken. To keep them on is to ensure that there will be a voice of reason around who can potentially jump in and save the company from making the same mistake again.
How to ensure retention: Make sure that all employees feel empowered to speak up, especially when it comes to the company making a potential mistake. You want to ensure that no employee feels silenced or fears losing their job should they speak up. This will be both beneficial for the company and the relationship the employee has with the company as a whole.
The reality is that any season of change will lead to the shedding of some leaves, but there is no reason why they all must go. Be intentional about who you’re keeping on the team and really look into the benefits of keeping long-term employees, because the benefits are indisputable. You could be potentially saving your company time and money, simply by accepting the value these employees bring to the table.