Counter Offers

Congratulations, you’ve just accepted an offer for the job you’ve been chasing for months. You’re excited and relieved...but how is your boss is going to react when you resign...?


Once upon a time, you handed in your notice and looked forward to your leaving party; unfortunately it’s not quite that simple anymore. Today when you hand in your notice, there is a very realistic chance that you will receive a counter offer; but beware, once the initial flattery and extra cash has lost its appeal, you may still be left feeling exactly the same as when you started looking for a new job.
To understand the motivations behind counter offers, it is useful to realise some of the more common thoughts that go through your employer’s mind when you resign:

  • He’s/she’s one of my best performers. How am I supposed to replace them, keep the team together, and achieve budget?
  • What inconvenient timing, I was about to go on annual leave for 3 weeks!
  • How am I going to look in front of the board/senior management for losing this person?
  • Where is he/she going?
  • Can I get her to stay until I find a replacement and have an effective hand over?
  • How can I get him/her to stay?

If you are a valuable resource, then your boss and your company won’t want to see you walk out the door, especially to the competition. They will make every attempt to convince you to stay, either by:

  • Making you a counter offer
  • Making you feel incredibly guilty and disloyal
  • ‘Loving’ you liked they’ve never ‘loved’ you before – be suspicious of this.

Being made an attractive counter offer is instantly good for your ego, but you must take a number of things into consideration before saying “thanks” or “no thanks”:

  • You have only received a counter offer because you resigned. It is a purely reactive tactic from your employer and should make you wonder whether you need to resign every time you want to improve your situation. If your employer thought you were truly worthy, why didn’t they improve your situation anyway?
  • Do your reasons for wanting to leave still exist? You may have a number of reasons; salary was too low, no promotion in sight, don’t like your boss. You may be offered more money to stay, which can be tempting, but if you still have other issues outstanding, you’ll probably end up leaving anyway.
  • Despite what your employer is saying to you, they will probably now consider you a risk and may make contingency plans without your knowledge. You may not be seen as a true member of the team and may even be overlooked for promotions.
  • The counter offer could simply be an interim tactic from your employer to bridge a gap whilst they look to replace you.

A lot research and many surveys have been completed over the years to measure what happens to employees who accept counter offers. Only 6 out of 100 employees are still with their company after 12 months and 89% leave within the first 6 months.  With further investigations, two important points become apparent:

  • Salary was hardly ever the prime motivator for resigning; more money didn’t ultimately change the true state of play
  • Things didn’t take long to return to the way they were before the resignation

Before accepting a counter offer, ask yourself why your employer has made the offer. There is a strong possibility that the cons will outweigh the pros and you will realise that your decision to resign was right after all.

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