Considering a counter offer?

Counter offers are great for boosting confidence. Not only have you received a new job offer, but your current employer is now countering it because they are that keen to keep you... or afraid to lose you. What do you do - take it or leave it? When considering a counter offer, there are a lot of risks and benefits you should know about. I will explore the pros and cons of both sides and the variables that come into play when people make their decision. When to accept a counter offer?

  • Better the devil you know. Ultimately you may get cold feet about moving into a new role. There is always uncertainty, no matter how much reassurance or detail you have been given about the position. If this seems too risky, or you're too unsure, it might be best to stay put.
  • Loyalty. It’s not easy handing in your resignation to someone you have built up a significant relationship with over a considerable period of time. If you trust them and their advice, even if they have a lot at stake and their self-interest is involved, it might be worth giving the offer serious thought.
  • You feel more valued (potentially short term). Employees will find that the employer finally, after you have forced their hand, gives you the recognition and rewards you wanted all along. You may feel satisfied just receiving the counter offer, but this process may also leave a bad taste in your employer’s mouth.
  • Looking for a pay rise. If you never intended to leave in the first place and were angling for a pay rise, then you will likely accept the counter offer. Be cautious about doing this though; there is a chance you will damage the relationship, not only with your boss, but also potentially with your colleagues.

When to leave a counter offer behind?

  • Too little too late. No matter how good the offer may seem, 80% of employees leave within 12 months of accepting a counter offer. Clearly there are other underlying factors at play here and for employers as it only serves to temporarily resolve their staff retention issues.
  • Disingenuous. You had to force the hand of your employer, which can lead to underlying resentment. You may ultimately feel aggrieved you had to go to the extremes of finding another job before finally receiving the acknowledgment about your workplace predicaments and grievances.
  • Damaged working relationship with peers and boss. It may make you seem a bit mercenary to your boss and they may never forget your disloyalty. This in turn may damage the longer term trust in you and your progression opportunities within the business. For an employer, they don’t want to be seen rewarding such behaviour as others within the business may be tempted to follow suit, seeing this as a legitimate way of getting recognition and rewards.
  • Non-monetary concerns. Importantly, money is rarely the sole motivator for a move, employees are looking for career opportunities, progression, and wider scope for learning new skills. A simple increase in your salary will unlikely resolve these issues.
  • A counter offer is cheaper than hiring a replacement. Often the recruitment costs associated with hiring a replacement outweigh the costs of a counter offer to a business, so it makes commercial sense. If this seems to be the primary reason you're getting the offer, and you're looking for more rewarding opportunities or progression on top of the salary that don't seem to be on the table, you should think twice before you accept.
  • Wasting a third party’s time. It’s a small industry and a prospective employer will have invested a significant amount of time and resources into your hire, ultimately for it to be rejected. This may damage future working relationships in the industry. People talk!

Before beginning a job search, sit down with your employer to talk about your concerns. Whether through formal appraisals or an informal sit down with your line manager, discuss any frustrations and see if the medium and long term business goals align with your own. If you fail to get the clarity or reassurances you want or need, it’s probably sensible to consider other opportunities that better match your ambitions. At least this way you will have shown your present employer respect by coming to them with your situation and given them the opportunity to either better accommodate you in the business or let you go. Need help? If you are considering a counter offer or making a career transition, but would like to discuss your options in confidentiality, please contact me on my details below.

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Author: Amandeep Gill

Amandeep began his career in litigation and then spent 3 years working for a multinational recruitment company before joining Hanson Search's public affairs practice. He is acknowledged for his consultative and straight talking approach with candidates and clients, offering a service that emphasises quality and value-add, taking on board the specific nature of the brief.

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