• Chau Woeste, Partner |
  • Christian Kurtz, Associate Director |

Chau Woeste and Christian Kurtz explain why deal leaders need to focus more on the employee experience and provide tips on how to improve engagement.

Two-thirds of deals fail to deliver value. You’ve probably seen that stat before. It doesn’t make it any less powerful. And, of course, it begs the questions: Why? And how do I make sure my deal isn’t one of them?

Among the top reasons given for this failure are people and cultural issues. Organisations have rarely been good at managing the human side of the deal as the focus is often on the numbers: What are the growth forecasts? What synergies can be found to reduce costs? What does the acquisition deliver in terms of intellectual property or access to a new market?

The human side of the deal – how you engage your new employees and integrate them within your business – can get missed. This is a problem because, in many cases, it’s the people who are the key to unlocking the full value of your deal. They’re the ones who hold the knowledge; they’re what made the company you’ve acquired such an attractive proposition in the first place.

Increasingly, deal leaders are recognising they need to get better at engaging their new employees.  They want to know how they can provide an employee experience that would have attracted key talent to come and work for them even if the deal hadn’t happened. That’s a challenge at the best of times, let alone when we’re operating in an environment where contact is constrained by COVID-19.

So, how do you do it? Across a series of blog posts, we’ll be sharing insights into how we’ve successfully helped our clients deliver deal value by improving how they engage their new and existing people. The topics we’ll be covering are:

  • How to engage different generations at work
  • How you can capture real-time data to make informed people decisions
  • How particular employee groups need tailored approaches

We find that deal leaders ask three big questions relating to talent and retention:

How do we onboard thousands of employees across multiple geographies?

We’ve supported deals where thousands of new employees need to be onboarded from across the globe. They need to be brought up to speed on new processes, systems and ways of working within weeks, or even days, of deal completion. After all, a high performing business needs a high performing, informed workforce that’s equipped with the knowledge, tools and resources to succeed.

This is a huge task in itself. Let’s also remember these aren’t people who have chosen to work for you. Many will have joined your business confused and worried. What does the transition mean for their job? How do they get things done? What’s expected of them? In a deal situation, uncertainty is rife.

To handle these concerns, you should be providing employees with timely, frequent and authentic communication throughout the integration journey. That’s a minimum.

As different people like to access information in different ways, it pays to communicate across a range of channels. We also find it helps to maintain one central point of truth – a single place where new employees can find the information they are looking for. And, importantly, this should also be a place where they can ask questions and get quick answers.

How can we motivate and retain our top talent?

Exciting and motivating your new employees is tough. They may not be happy to have been acquired, especially where that means change and the potentially greater bureaucracy that comes with being part of a larger organisation. Provide them with a forum to chat, share ideas and solve problems, together and with existing members of staff, where they can start to get a feel for the culture of their new company. One observation we’ve made is that leadership participation is a real driver of engagement – employees feel that they have the right to join the discussion and are being heard when leadership is visible in that same forum.

To protect deal value, it can pay to identify and target key groups of staff and the top talent. We managed to halve the expected attrition rate during a integration we supported, where employees were a critical asset to the deal. A big part of that was down to putting in place specific support channels for People Managers. They’re the first point of contact in times of uncertainty and need to be equipped for the challenge.

How do we engage a tech-savvy, social and mobile workforce?

Employee expectations are changing, driven by how they communicate and socialise outside of work. Today, they expect information at their fingertips. They consume information via online video. They like digital games. They talk to their friends over social platforms more than they do on the phone.

Tech-savvy, social and mobile employees expect you to communicate with them using the tools they’re used to and like using. And they expect to be able to connect anytime, anywhere and on any device. That’s why we focus on establishing social and digital engagement platforms that don’t just provide information but also incorporate chat, video and gamification. We managed to achieve a 99% sign-up rate to the engagement platform we set up at a Silicon Valley-based tech company we supported.

But how do you know what techniques and what channels will resonate with your people? How can you determine whether your efforts to engage employees are working? Waiting for the next quarterly, or even yearly, pulse survey won’t suffice – we all know that time can kill a deal. Having a digital engagement platform enables you to gather real-time insights into employees’ engagement level by department, function, country or office, which can help you course correct immediately.

Inform, equip, engage, connect

In summary, there are four factors you need to focus on to deliver value through the human side of the deal:

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the points raised or how we can support your integration.