33 percent of acquired workers leave in the first year

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    “A new study finds 33 percent of acquired workers leave in the first year of their startup’s purchase.” https://mitsloan.mit.edu/ideas-made-to-matter/your-acquired-hires-are-leaving-heres-why
    How is your company dealing with the employee retention problem? I personally, experienced several times when PMI projects were restarted because the target’s key employees responsible for integration simply left the company.


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    Julien Cohen

    There is no one size fits all answer to this problematic but we could explore the following levers: financial retention clauses, shares ownership, and last but not least get those key people to be part of the design of the post integration, so that they don’t feel a too deep cultural gap/fit.

    Erin Gray

    When we complete an acquisition, our top focus is on retaining the sales force above all so we immediately start talking with that group to ease any concerns and then we move on to the support staff. The value in an acquisition for us is the sales team so losing any of them would be a critical hit.

    Gretchen Asher

    Here are some steps the acquiring company can take to mitigate the retention problem:

    1. Identify the reason behind high turnover
    The first step to solving a problem is to identify its root cause. The acquiring company should conduct an investigation into what causes the high rate of employee turnover. This can help pinpoint areas that need addressing.

    2. Implement an employee retention program
    Once the acquiring company identifies the problem areas, it should put into place an employee retention program to keep workers in the startup. The program can include things like bonuses for achieving retention targets, increase compensation, better benefits, stock options or a mentorship program.

    3. Offer Professional Development Opportunities
    Employees always want the opportunity to develop new skills. If they feel they are in a stagnant position, they are more likely to leave. Providing them with opportunities for professional growth, like in-house training or education, career development programs, and mentorship program, can motivate them and build loyalty.

    4. Create a Positive Work Environment
    Employees who feel happy and comfortable in their work environment tend to stay longer. Companies can help create a positive environment by investing in workplace culture, open communication, and employee engagement initiatives.

    5. Keep Communication Open
    It’s crucial to keep open communication with employees and listen to their feedback. This cements their commitment to staying in the company.

    By taking these steps, the acquiring company should be able to create a supportive work environment that helps keep the acquired workers committed to the startup.


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    Nicole Stuart

    The statistic alone can be misleading since it doesn’t caveat the reasons that people are leaving. Many people that work in startups do so because they like the culture and pace. That means a percentage of the employees aren’t going to be a good fit for the acquiring company if they are medium to large companies. Open and honest discussions during the integration process can help set realistic retention goals.

    Ashley Hooton

    A key focus in the merger process should be on change management when it comes to people. I personally like to use the ADKAR model. This model helps think through the different parts of the change to prepare and get as many team members on board as possible through the change. The tool also focuses on what knowledge and resources will the team members need for the change, which without being thought about directly can often be missed.

    Tim Lewandowski

    I completely agree with this idea, once a startup is no longer a start-up and morphs into a product development department, the pace slows. Drastically in most cases. I think the key here is to be transparent and balance this change of pace with the new opportunities that can occur in a likely matrixed organization.

    Max Eager

    As a consultant I see a variety of approaches taken by corporations.

    The most effective practices seem to be:

      1. Early and Transparent Communication: Ensure that communication regarding the M&A process begins early and remains consistent. Strive to provide employees with clear information about planned changes, including how these changes will affect their roles, and the strategic roadmap for the newly combined entity.
      2. Cultural Integration: Recognize that a successful integration isn’t just about technical or procedural alignment, but also cultural fit. Facilitate team-building activities and workshops that focus on fostering understanding and empathy between employees from different organizations.
      3. **Retention Incentives: In situations where specific talents or roles are deemed critical to the integration’s success, introduce targeted retention bonuses or other financial incentives to encourage these employees to stay through the transition period.
      4. Involving Employees in the Integration Process: Make key employees part of the change management team, as they are more likely to feel invested in the future of the combined entity and less likely to leave.
      5. Providing Reassurance and Stability: Offer as much job stability as possible, with reassurances about job security whenever feasible. This can involve clear communication about new roles, offering support for any new skills needed, and providing career development opportunities within the merged entity.
      6. Paying Attention to Wellbeing: Recognize that M&As can be stressful for employees. Offer resources to support their wellbeing and mental health during this challenging period.
    Helen Mitchell

    Establish who the ‘non-seller’ key employees are and incentivise them to stay.
    Develop a strong relationship with all employees.
    Get your leaders into the target business quickly, make them visible, provide engaging speeches and help the target employees feel valuable, necessary for the future of the organisation and engaged. Co-create the future.
    Conduct succession planning annually, with quarterly reviews.
    Track retention and understand career goals and key ‘motivators’ for each individual.



    L’intégration des employés après l’acquisition d’une startup est un défi majeur pour de nombreuses organisations. Comme l’étude l’indique et comme vous l’avez vécu personnellement, il est crucial de s’attaquer au problème de la rétention des talents clés pour assurer le succès de l’intégration.

    Les réponses précédentes ont apporté de nombreuses idées intéressantes, et je voudrais ajouter quelques éléments basés sur mon expérience et ma compréhension du sujet :

    Évaluation culturelle pré-acquisition : Avant même de finaliser l’acquisition, il est essentiel de procéder à une évaluation approfondie de l’adéquation culturelle entre les deux entreprises. La culture est un facteur crucial de rétention, et comprendre les divergences culturelles peut aider à préparer une stratégie d’intégration plus efficace.

    Personalisation des packages de rétention : Alors que des incitatifs de rétention financiers peuvent fonctionner pour certains, il est également important de comprendre les motivations individuelles des employés clés. Certains pourraient être motivés par des opportunités de développement professionnel, tandis que d’autres pourraient valoriser un équilibre travail-vie.

    Feedback continu : Implémenter des canaux de communication ouverts où les employés peuvent partager leurs préoccupations, suggestions ou feedback. Cette communication bidirectionnelle peut aider à identifier et résoudre rapidement les problèmes avant qu’ils ne deviennent majeurs.

    Programmes de mentorat et de développement : Les opportunités de développement professionnel sont cruciales pour retenir les talents. Les entreprises peuvent envisager des programmes de mentorat où les employés des deux entreprises peuvent apprendre les uns des autres, renforçant ainsi le sentiment d’appartenance.

    Gestion du changement : Comme mentionné précédemment, utiliser des modèles comme ADKAR peut aider à planifier et gérer le processus de changement de manière plus structurée, en veillant à ce que les employés soient informés, soutenus et équipés pour s’adapter au nouveau milieu de travail.

    Focalisation sur le bien-être : Les périodes post-acquisition peuvent être stressantes pour les employés. Fournir des ressources, des ateliers ou même des programmes axés sur le bien-être et la santé mentale peut aider à atténuer ce stress.

    Valoriser l’esprit d’entreprise : Pour les employés qui ont choisi de travailler dans une startup en raison de la culture entrepreneuriale, il pourrait être bénéfique de créer des initiatives internes qui permettent aux employés de travailler sur des projets passionnants ou de nouvelles idées, même au sein d’une plus grande organisation.

    En conclusion, chaque acquisition est unique, et il n’y a pas de solution unique. Cependant, en combinant plusieurs des meilleures pratiques mentionnées ici et en adaptant les approches en fonction de la situation spécifique et des personnes impliquées, il est possible d’augmenter considérablement les chances de succès en matière de rétention.

    En espérant avoir apporté des réponses satisfaisantes 🙂

    Tim Lewandowski

    On the topic of financial retention strategies, I find a combination of intermittent performance-based merit bonuses and transparent discussions about career progression to be essential. One without the other leads to inferences about the sincerity of the parent company simply to retain for the immediate jobs to be done.


    Change Management and appropriate cultural fit are critical to increasing the retention of employees during an acquisition.

    Bruno Turqueto

    In my opinion, startup acquisitions are the riskiest, but without a doubt with the greatest potential for return.

    Workers often don’t understand what profit is and are not used to working according to the law and other factors, so it is more difficult anyway.

    One way to prevent this type of behavior is to provide workers with adequate incentives, especially monetary incentives.

    David Casado

    I believe it would also be relevant to compare this information with retention of employees in start-ups that grow into scale ups without being acquired. In general the social cultural aspects of the company change drastically in the different phases of the company, not necessarily due to being acquired or not.
    Plus it is also worth analysing what is the average time of employment of those employees that start their career in a start-up environment. Without any doubt this isa business sector with high churn of employee rotation.

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