Handling a counter offer

Handling a counter offer

You made your choice and want to go for that new job. However, your current employer comes with a counter offer, hoping to persuade you not to leave. How can you best deal with this?

There are few statistics on how many times counter offers are offered. However, research into this phenomenon always bring up one fact: most people who accept a counter offer still leave within 12 months. And even more do that after three to six months.

Counter offers can take many forms: a straight increase in salary, additional company benefits, a sought-after promotion or new job title, additional responsibility, a change in role, more involvement in projects that interest you - or any combination of these.

Reasons why a counter offer is made

Counter offers can be confusing. Leaving a job, especially if you have been there for some time, is difficult. Being put under pressure to stay, and having your reasons for leaving challenged or undermined, does not make easy listening. 

As enticing as counter offers may appear to be, it is important to keep a clear head, take a step back and consider the options available. 

Reasons why an employer might want you to stay include:

  • Replacing an employee can be expensive
  • It might mess up their budget to re-recruit that time of year
  • They have not got time to re-recruit right now
  • They want to have you cover while they hunt for your replacement
  • They want you to finish the project you are working on
  • They don't have the time to train someone new at the moment
  • Losing staff might reflect badly on your employer

Should I stay or should I go?

There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you've been through the recruitment process, you've been successful and you have scored a job that meets your criteria. 
Think about these factors:
  • From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will always be in question
  • This lack of loyalty is likely to be an obstacle to future promotions
  • Your colleagues will look at you differently - after all, you do not really want to be there do you?
  • Your boss will probably start casting around for your replacement immediately - whether you stay or not
  • Why are they offering you what you deserve now, rather than before your resignation?
  • Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?
  • How guilty do you really feel?
After all, should you not be putting yourself first? Would the company think twice about getting shot of you if the chips were down?

Staying might not going to be easy

Do not let an unexpected counter offer stop you in your tracks. Take it in your stride, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave. Stand your ground. 

However, should you decide not to leave for pastures new, be aware that your resignation has not been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer's trust. You might have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your loyalty and worthiness as a long-term prospect. Your new post-resignation life with your old company is not going to be easy.


There's more:

How do you resign in a decent way and make a good start at you new employer?

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