How to respond to a counter offer

man working on phone and laptop

With many employers struggling to retain good quality staff, professionals are increasingly likely to be presented with a counter offer when they announce their resignation.

The decision whether or not to accept a counter offer is an important one that may have a lasting impact on your career.

You should consider whether the counter offer will truly address your original reasons for wanting to leave and if your future with the company could be impacted even if you decide to stay.

“Our research has shown that while many professionals have received counter offers during their resignation process, 39% of those who accepted returned to the jobs market within a year," said Suzanne Feeney, country manager at Robert Walters. 

"This suggests that employees who have considered leaving a company and have found an alternative role will not be persuaded to stay long term.”

Your existing company wants to buy you back

It is in an organisation’s best interest to retain their best staff if they can, so when a valued team member hands in their notice, managers will often try to financially incentivise the employee to stay.

Change can seem daunting and increased pay and progression is appealing, but before you accept the counter offer you should consider a number of factors:

1. Are the reasons behind the counter offer in your best interest?

It is usually cheaper to keep an employee through offering a pay rise or promotion than it is to hire and train a new member of staff, so this may be the main reason your employer wants you to stay.

"While it is clearly in your employer's interest to retain you, this doesn’t change the fact that you’d been unhappy enough at work to not only look for another opportunity, but to interview and subsequently receive an offer for a new job," continued Suzanne. 

2. The trust has been broken

While many professionals have received counter offers during their resignation process, 39% of those who accepted returned to the jobs market within a year.

It may be worth considering whether your employer's opinion of you will be coloured by the fact that you seroiusly considered leaving.

If you have been looking for another job, then your employer may see you as less trustworthy than before and could view any dental or doctors appointments suspiciously which may make you feel unsettled at work.

3. Would you have received a pay rise or promotion if you hadn’t resigned?

It is worth considering whether you would have received this recognition of your hard work if you hadn’t handed in your notice, and if not – do you want to stay at a company that doesn’t reward its employees until they hand in their resignation.

"In some cases employers will offer an increased salary as a counter offer at the direct expense of a bonus payment," added Suzanne.

"Particularly for professionals in fields where their bonus accounts for a signifincant part of their annual income this can interfere with their financial plans."

4. Why did you want to leave in the first place?

While financial rewards are attractive incentives, recent research by Robert Walters has shown that employees are most likely to look for new job opportunities that offer them better career progression.

So accepting a counter offer purely for the financial benefits doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel dissatisfied in your role in a few months’ time.

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