Counter Offer – Should You Take It?
What You Should and Shouldn't Do
Initial disclaimer: If you have done a career evaluation, pursued all options for increased job satisfaction (relationships, salary, vacation, advancement, etc.) with your current employer and chosen to initiate a search for a new opportunity, you SHOULD NOT be willing to consider a counter offer. If your current company was uninterested or unwilling to value your contributions without the threat of losing you, then they are not worthy of staying for based on emergency procedures that are initiated to keep you.
Also, if you have engaged a recruitment service and/or courted another company who have put time and effort into hiring you, assuming that your motivations for making a change were honest and final, then killing those relationships by accepting a counter can hurt your career options in the market in the future.
The following advice on counter offers should be considered if you are given a shot-gun style offer or if you had been headhunted from a job you enjoy and you weren’t really looking for a new opportunity.
So you finally built up the courage to tell your boss you’re leaving. Things just weren’t working out and after months of mulling it over, you really feel like you’ve found a better offer. You thought the decision was final, that your mind was irrevocably made up – until your boss asked the following question:
“What are they offering you?”
You give him a few vague benefits of the new position, and then he hits you with a counter offer. Better pay, a promotion, flexible working hours – the whole package.
Now you’re back to being undecided again.
The good news is your employer values you enough that they’re reluctant to let you go. It’s not unusual for an employer to propose a counter offer in the hopes of keeping a high-value employee. The bad news is, you’re once again stuck in between two job prospects.
Here are a few pointers on what you should and shouldn’t do when faced with this generous offer.
Weigh the Benefits
Consider the counter offer down to the very last detail. What did they propose that was better than the new job offer? A higher salary? Less over-time? Extra vacation days? Whatever it is, make a list of pros and cons to evaluate if these new benefits really outweigh the cons that made you want to switch jobs in the first place.
Be Objective About The Outcome
It takes time and effort to search for a new job, pass the screening, attend multiple interviews, and battle salary negotiations. What motivated you to keep pushing towards that new position at a different company?
Remember that you had your reasons for wanting a change. Things like an unwelcoming environment, poor management, and overly long commutes are NOT remedied with a higher salary.
As Christopher Elmes, of the Capital H Group, rightly states:
“No matter what the offer or counteroffer is, if the underlying job dissatisfaction issues aren’t addressed, then it doesn’t make a difference.”
Assess Your Employer's Integrity
It’s one thing to promise and another to deliver. Your employer can whip up an irresistible offer in an attempt to make you stay, but how certain are you that they will stick to their word once you say “yes”?
If one of the reasons you’re resigning is the relationship with management, then staying at the company under the premise that this situation will change is a recipe for failure. Evaluate your past experiences and assess whether your employer is all talk and no action. If they are, then don’t take that counter offer and consider it time to move on.
Don't Start A Bidding War
Your employer may have set a higher compensation for your work, but your talent is not up for auction. It may feel flattering now that you have two companies pining over you, but don’t let this new sense of importance go to your head.
When an employer makes a counter offer, it’s usually their best and FINAL offer. Don’t take it as an opportunity to shake down either company for more money. You’ll end up losing out, either on the job altogether or on your perceived trustworthiness as an employee.
Don't Boast To Your Colleagues
If you decide to take the counter offer, it would do you well to keep it quiet. Your peers may become envious and your workplace environment could suddenly become sour. Many employees found that their work environment deteriorated after they accepted a counter offer. Why did YOU deserve such a deal? Why aren’t THEY being offered the same benefits?
The last thing your employer needs is half their staff lining up with a threat to quit so they can incite a better offer too. Because of reasons like these, many companies completely prohibit counter offers due to the bad precedent it sets.
Keep This In Mind
It’s an unfortunate fact that 80% – 90% of employees who accept counter offers end up quitting within six months, or are terminated by their employer within twelve months. This information should be considered very carefully before even considering a counter offer.
Accepting a counter offer is always a risk. But before you return to your usual desk after being promised a much better deal, give yourself time to evaluate if the new offer directly addresses the real reasons you wanted to leave. If they do, then congratulations, you’ve just improved your work life in one fell swoop. If they don’t, then simply thank your employer for the kind offer, let them know that your mind is made up, and conclude that it’s now time for you to move on.
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