The type of retention incentives used depends primarily on the type of deal. For example, organizations are more likely to provide retention incentives when involved in an acquisition than a divestiture. More than half (57%) of organizations reported that executives critical to long-term success are always eligible for retention incentives. However, for a typical divestiture, only 44% reported that these executives are always eligible.
Retention incentives also vary from country to country. According to the survey findings, US and Canadian organizations provide larger retention incentives than organizations in Europe and Asia Pacific when viewed as a percentage of base pay.
“There is no one-size-fits-all retention incentive program,” said Gregg Passin, Partner and Mercer's US Leader for Executive Rewards consulting. “While many of the plans share certain characteristics, retention plan design varies based on deal size and complexity, type of deal, industry sector and whether the transaction is cross-border. When organizations develop their strategic retention bonus program, it’s critical to look beyond market benchmarks to examine their own unique needs.”
Transaction Bonus ProgramsTransaction bonuses are typically paid to CEOs, executives and deal team members. Forty-two percent of executives other than the CEO are most often targeted for a transaction bonus. According to Mercer’s survey, organizations in one-third (33%) of deals provide transaction bonuses to deal team members, while slightly fewer (31%) provide them to the CEO. Other employees were less likely to receive a transaction bonus. Additionally, the survey found that CEOs and other executives in European and Asia Pacific organizations are more likely to receive transaction bonuses than their counterparts in the US and Canada. Also, European organizations offer deal team members transaction bonuses, while none of the organizations surveyed in Asia Pacific provide transaction bonuses to deal team members. While transaction bonuses as a percentage of base salary for deal team members are fairly consistent among companies in the US and Europe, companies in Europe provide much smaller transaction bonuses to CEOs and other executives than companies in the US. Transaction bonuses are typically paid only if the deal closes.