A tale of two sides when considering a counter-offer

In today’s job seeker’s market where vacancies are outstripping available talent, counter offers are increasingly becoming a common part of the negotiation process.

When deciding whether to stay or go it’s important to consider more than just the financial incentives on offer – Amy Hayer, Head of Healthcare at global search firm, Hanson Search offers some insight into this for the employee and the employer…

The Employee…

Consider your role beyond the salary – a good starting point is to reflect on what prompted you to seek out a new opportunity in the first place. While salary and job title are undoubtedly key considerations, flexible working, company culture, career growth, learning and development and the desire for interesting and fulfilling work should all be taken into account when making your decision. It’s all too easy to be swayed by the financials as you near the end of a search process, but it’s very important to think of the long-term professional incentive and the personal gain from the opportunity at hand.

Think of the bigger picture - what’s in your five-year career plan, and how will staying with your current employer, or accepting a role in a new company help you in achieving your goals? Loyalty to a company can be rewarding for both employer and employee, but the most important thing for your career is to keep progressing in your work and demonstrating that as you gain experience you’re being rewarded for that progress. Is it time for a change – for exposure to a new and inspiring senior leadership team, new clients, new opportunities?

Take advice from someone who has good knowledge, network, and insight into the talent market – the job market is highly competitive (some would say volatile!) at the moment, and it can be overwhelming. Specialist recruitment consultants, career coaches and mentors can all offer invaluable insight into the pros and cons of your next step. The right recruiters are heavily networked, researched, and connected, therefore it’s wise to align yourself with a couple so that they can keep abreast of suitable opportunities as and when they arise.

Damage control – going through multiple interview stages with a prospective employer to then decline an offer to stay where you are does not look good. Not only have you wasted your time, you have wasted their time and you’ve also damaged your future relationship with that employer – and potentially your current employer. Before setting out to look at new roles it’s helpful to reflect on your motivations – if it’s solely job title and salary that you’re looking for, could you have a discussion with your existing employer and resolve those issues?

Do you have the experience and resilience to succeed in the role you’re considering? - a bigger salary and more senior title can, of course, be hugely appealing, but with that comes expectation and pressure. While challenging yourself and wanting to move up the career ladder are brilliant ambitions, it needs to be at the right time when you’re ready for that next move.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the communications industry, as firms become more employee-focussed and are driven to reward talent with fantastic opportunities. Take time to consider what it is that you, the employee, value most highly and want from your work and workplace before making a career transition – you’ve got this.

The Employer…

In a job seeker’s market where talent is increasingly hard to find, it is no surprise that counter offers are becoming more commonplace. As an industry we need to address the fundamental cause of the issue if we are to transform the landscape of recruitment and retention in the comms industry for the future, says Amy Hayer (Head of Healthcare, Hanson Search).

The issue

In a landscape where talent is scarce, businesses understandably want to retain good people, and as a result we are increasingly seeing a culture of counter offering across the market.

This is largely a self-perpetuating problem; in its simplest term, the more that businesses counter offer and drive up salaries and inflate job titles, the more we see overpromoted talent who lack the necessary experience to fulfil their roles. This leads to burnout and ultimately consultants leave the industry – and the pool of available talent becomes even smaller.

And the solution?

In the scramble for talent, it’s tempting to use a leaner recruitment process and accept candidates without thoroughly ascertaining that they have the skillset and experience needed for specific roles.

The danger in not thoroughly vetting prospective candidates is that you hire at the wrong level, which isn’t good for anyone. Ultimately, if a candidate is being expected to do work that is above their experience and skill level, they will either underperform or struggle to keep up, and the likelihood of them burning out or considering a different role in a different industry is far greater.

Counteroffering is an inevitable side effect of a market where talent is scarce, but businesses need to remember that if a worker has sought out a new role, the likelihood is that more money and/or a more senior title will only prove a short-term solution to their motivation to leave.

Counteroffering can also have a negative effect on existing employees who become disgruntled when they recognise that consultants at the same level as them are being offered higher salaries to stay after considering resignation.  Maintaining an unhappy employee but losing an existing one because they’re resentful of the lack of recognition of their loyalty and value is counterintuitive.

How do we attract talent - at every level - to want to be a part of the industry and to see a future in it?

Employees have been under huge amounts of pressure in recent times, with the challenges of home working and increasing workloads (again, a result of the lack of available talent) and this has led many to consider their future in the industry.

As employers, now is the moment to really drill down on what makes you attractive and inspiring as an organisation. Jobseekers entering the market now put far greater priority on work/life balance, seeking out interesting and rewarding work, and having the flexibility to work from outside of the office in hours that suit their schedule – if you’re to attract the very best people then you need to accommodate those needs and create those opportunities.

A commitment to diversity is also hugely important for prospective employees to see and is also essential in enabling businesses to recruit a diverse and multiskilled workforce.

Where do we go from here?

As an industry we need to think about how we attract entry-level talent and offer them the skills and incentives needed to enable them to envisage a future and career within the communications industry.

Learning and development opportunities, company culture and core values are ever more important when workers have multiple employment options in today’s red-hot market. Previously the power was with the client, but that has now flipped and employees need to feel valued and special if they’re to be recruited and retained within businesses.

With more senior employees, we need to recognise that counteroffering in a bid to retain talent is a short-term solution – a better strategy is to offer a best-in-class employee experience so that you can both attract and retain the best people.

Hanson Search has been working with companies to advise on these issues and we offer training to help business get this right. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can help with your employee brand and hiring.

Posted on 07.03.2022

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