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01 June 2022

Navigating Your Way Through Your Counter Offer

A question that comes up time and time again in recruitment; should you accept a counter offer?

In a market like we’re currently experiencing, where talent shortages across the board are commonplace, it is becoming more and more a standard part of the cycle that a current employer will attempt to retain their staff as they try and leave / accept a new position.

There are plenty of facts and arguments to back up the fact that counter offers in general are not a good idea for any party involved. However, this is always going to vary on a case-by-case basis. In order to make the decision that is right for you when faced with a counter offer, it is important to understand;

  • The reasons counter offers exist

  • Why people would accept a counter offer after deciding to leave already

  • The pros and cons of accepting counter offers

  • Some key facts and stats

Ultimately, you will be the one accepting or rejecting your counter offer, but this article will attempt to analyse and coach you through the process.

Why Counter Offers Happen

Retaining staff should be something that employers actively focus on, however it is so often an area that is neglected as businesses get busier. The facts are clear: it costs a lot more to hire someone new than it does to retain existing staff on a higher salary. To replace a senior executive can cost as much as double their annual salary! Not to mention the time lost in doing handovers and throughout the new recruitment process – a huge loss of productivity for the business, especially for employees that have deeper and wider impacts on the business.

In addition to that, the market is extremely candidate-led currently due to a limited talent pool, which makes it harder still to hire the right someone with the relevant experience and skill set.

Counter Offers are usually panicky reactions to realising all this too late, after an employee has already decided to leave and has announced their intention for doing so.

 

Why Would Someone Accept a Counter Offer?

So, having established that a business that truly cares for their staff would always be pre-empting the needs and changing salaries requirements to match the market, why would an employee elect to stay at a company that had to be forced into making a counter offer?

In essence, the main reason is it’s just easier to stay put where you are. You don’t have to go through the effort of moving and settling in at a new company, a new office. You don’t have to get used to a new commute. You don’t have to socialise with your new work colleagues, and, of course, by staying you’ll be doing the same job you have always done at your company but getting paid more for the privilege.

Humans are creatures of habit and change can look daunting when it’s staring you in the face. Comfort zones are dangerous places to get settled though; it is vital at this point to ask yourself why were you looking for a new job in the first place?

What were the reasons you picked up the phone to your recruiter at all? Why did you even entertain moving if you are happy at your current employer? Is your commute a pain in the neck? Are you bored? Have you hit your ceiling in terms of progression? Do you get on with your manager and/or team? Do you need a new challenge? You get the idea. Keep these questions well in mind when weighing up a counter offer.

The Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • You won’t have to onboard, settle in, retrain

  • You don’t have to socialise or learn a new team environment / culture

  • You’ll avoid the stress of moving

  • Your current salary will be increasing!

Cons:

  • Don’t forget your intention - there was a reason (or perhaps many reasons) that you started to look for a new job in the first place

  • The stats are clear: 80% of people leave within 6 months of accepting a counter offer – a number this high is not a fluke

  • The trust with your current employer will be affected, it’ll never be quite the same – your commitment will have tangibly taken a hit

  • Most employers promise great things if you accept the counter offer, but rarely are they fulfilled. Remember, they are always made as reactionary panic. Usually because you leaving will cost more than to up your salary slightly

  • Do you really want to have to threaten to leave every time you want to get a pay rise? The culture of a company won’t change.

  • More money will not miraculously make you happier in your job, if that is what was lacking

  • It’s not usually a sign that you’re actually valued – a counter offer is a staff retention tool

  • You will lose credit with your recruitment partner who has probably worked hard to manage your recruitment process, and may well be the key to a future role for you

  

There’s no one who knows your current work situation better than you, so of course ultimately this decision is yours and yours alone.

But, before jumping in to accept a counter offer, you should think carefully about exactly what it is you want and discuss the situation with your recruitment partner, but first, have a look through these stats around counter offers;

  • 50% of candidates that accept counter offers from their current employer are active again on the market within 60 days

  • 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months.

  • 90% of candidates who accept a counter offer leave their current employer within the 12 month mark.

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