Acquisition-driven employee engagement and program management

BASF: Acquisition-driven employee engagement and program management


Following the largest acquisition in its history, BASF—a large international chemical company headquartered in Germany—needed to retain talent in the face of anxiety produced by what was initially positioned as a “hostile takeover.”

Acquired American company Engelhard had a smaller global footprint and was culturally very different. Prior to closing the deal, BASF had no access to Engelhard’s 7,000+ employees at 99 sites around the globe.


  • Formed a core  global integration communications team of more than 40 communicators from BASF, Engelhard and Gagen MacDonald, focused on delivering consistency and creating an emotional connection.
  • Developed a Strategic Story  to drive consistent communications and deepen employee engagement.
  • Selected, trained and deployed a team of 60 BASF leaders to serve as Integration Ambassadors in various locations worldwide.
  • Created an integration website/intranet  with confidential “Ask BASF” feature and “In My Own Words” employee profiles.
  • Orchestrated “face-to-face” strategies: Day One welcome event, open dialogue sessions with BASF leaders, business focus updates, and an appreciation gift.
  • Published the Insight Integration newsletter, which was translated into 12 languages and distributed bi-weekly, reaching the workforce of both companies


The strategic story served as the basis of all communications.

700 Engelhard employees attended the Day One Welcome Event and an additional 745 BASF and Engelhard locations attended via teleconference; the following business day, there were 14,000 visits to the Integration portal.

  • Employees received frequent and consistent information from a variety of sources. Employee comments included: “felt well informed,” “messages were clear,” and “appreciated hearing from the leader they know and trust.”
  • Within the first six months of the merger, BASF retained most key business leaders, technical experts and site managers worldwide. Retention of executive talent was a strong signal that convinced others to stay.
  • Eighty percent of site managers reported feeling well prepared to communicate change to employees.
  • “In My Own Words” was recognized by the Financial Times as an innovative way to help acclimate newly acquired employees.
  • The Holmes Group honored BASF and Gagen MacDonald with the prestigious Gold SABRE Award for Change Management for this project.

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