To understand what employers do to retain key staff during a merger or acquisition, in the spring of 2014, we conducted a global study of 248 organizations in 14 countries. In this survey (our second), we focus on the effectiveness of retention agreements — one of the tactics most frequently used to keep talent.

Our study found that high-retention companies (those that reported retention rates over 60% for the full retention period) behave differently from low-retention companies (those that reported retention rates of 40% or less) in six critical ways.

Lessons From the Top

What High-Retention Companies Do Differently

The fact that 88% of high-retention companies rate their transaction as highly or mostly successful in terms of meeting their strategic objectives, compared to 67% of low-retention companies, points to the critical impact that talent retention can have on deal success. High-retention companies behave differently from others in six critical ways.

What High-Retention Companies Do Differently What High-Retention Companies Do Differently

What High-Retention Companies Do Differently What High-Retention Companies Do Differently

What High-Retention Companies Do Differently What High-Retention Companies Do Differently


Other key practices of high-retention companies:

  • They identify retention candidates as early as possible.
  • They employ a global retention philosophy and strategy but allow for local and regional variations.
  • They secure retention agreements with senior leaders before other employees.
  • They realize the importance of retention bonuses but also focus on other factors, including culture, the role of managers and other factors, to keep top talent.
  • High-retention firms are more likely to use retention agreements that combine pay-to-stay and pay-to-perform metrics.