Why You Should Never Accept a Counter Offer


And the REAL reasons your employer wants you to stay…

That’s it, you’ve had enough. You’ve spent the last couple of months moaning to your partner, your kids and your friends about how much you hate your job. Even your dog is sick of hearing about it!

It’s time to move on and find a brand-new job with an exciting new company.You feel that you have plenty of reasons to look around;

  • Your employer isn’t offering you the training & progression that you were promised.
  • You have realised that a 2% salary increase each year isn’t enough.
  • Despite your best efforts you just don’t get on with your line manager.

Whatever your reasons, you have made your mind up and started your search for a new job.

After countless hours of searching, applying to job ads, talking to recruiters and answering the same questions countless times, you’ve now received a job offer, congratulations! Now the easy part, go and tell your manager that it’s time to move on and that you are resigning.

You arrange a meeting, you are all prepared and then, BOOM, out of nowhere, it comes … The Counter Offer…!

You did not expect it, especially as you have felt unappreciated for the last 6 months. You might not have received a counter offer in the past and if you are not prepared then it is very easy to be caught off guard.

So, what is a counter offer and why do so many companies make them when an employee resigns?

What is a counter offer?

A counter offer is presented to you when you hand in your notice or talk to you manager about wanting to leave. Often, they will start asking a few simple questions; Why would you want to leave? What have they done wrong? What can they do to fix things? What have you been offered? What can they do to make you stay?

When you share your reasons for resigning, your employer starts talking about how they can accommodate what you’re looking for, they can increase your salary or even give you a promotion.

Why do employers make counter offers?

The simple answer to this question is that they panic. Often, employers won’t have seen your resignation coming and most have no contingency plan in place. Here’s what they’ll be thinking;

  • Who will take over your workload?
  • Who else has your level of knowledge and experience?
  • How will they find someone to replace you in just 4 weeks?
  • How will the relationships with their customers be affected by you leaving?
  • What impact will your resignation have on their bottom line?
  • How will your resignation affect the morale of the rest of the team?
  • How much will it cost them to hire a replacement?

It’s much cheaper to keep an employee by offering a pay rise or promotion than it is to replace them.

What you can expect to happen next

  • You will feel flattered – You will have conversations and meetings with senior managers, directors or even the company owners – you may meet people that you’ve never even heard of!
  • You will feel important – You will never have felt more important (for about a week) than shortly after receiving a counter offer, they will listen to your concerns, they will take some immediate actions and put a plan together to ensure you are happy to stay.
  • You will be made promises – They will talk about change, they will make promises about your future, maybe you will suddenly hear back about that training course that you have been asking about for the past year!
  • They will offer flexibility – Suddenly your employer will become more flexible than an Olympic gymnast! Maybe they will even offer you half a day working from home or those late starts on a Wednesday that you have been asking about for months.
  • You’ll start doubting your decision to leave – These guys seem great, ever since you resigned, everyone has been so helpful and accommodating. Why did you even want to leave in the first place!?

I’ve been working in recruitment for over a decade, and I can guarantee that most or all the above things will happen shortly after you’ve received a counter offer.

The strategies listed above are all signs of an employer that is in panic mode. It’s not a sign that they value you or that they’ll make any long-term changes. The trust between you and your employer has been broken, they’re already thinking about how to find someone to replace you.

Here’s the reality … it’s too little too late . Every action and promise being made is being made to keep you in your role for the next few months. Your employer knows that you are now a flight risk and if you do decide to stay, they know full well that you are very likely to leave in the next 6 months.

Things to consider before accepting a counter offer

  1. Why did you have to resign before you got a pay rise, a promotion or a change of department etc?
  2. Are you receiving a pay rise or are you just getting your next pay rise a few months early? – This tactic is extremely common, often employers will give you an immediate salary increase but don’t mention that you won’t get another one in the annual pay review in 3 months’ time.
  3. Can you believe any of their promises? If your reasons for leaving are related to your working environment, start times, travel, colleagues etc, why have these not been addressed before now?
  4. If you do decide to stay, how will that effect your long-term prospects with the company? Will they ever trust you again? Will you be overlooked for the next promotion because you are a flight risk?
  5. Has anything really changed? Your reasons for leaving are likely still going to be there, do not be tempted to think that a small pay rise will fix the frustration that you have been feeling for the past 3 months.
  6. It is estimated that 80% of people that accept a counter offer are looking for a new job again within 6 months.

Appreciate the value of a new opportunity

Don’t just think about the potential negatives of accepting a counter offer, think about what you would be giving up with the new opportunity.

A change is a good as a rest. You’ll be amazed at how invigorating and motivating a new job can be and will often offer more opportunity that your current role.

Ultimately, it’s your decision and your decision alone but ask yourself, what happens next time you want something from your employer, will you need to resign every 6 months to keep your career goals on track?

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