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Negotiating a Counter Offer

Congratulations, you’ve just accepted the offer for an exciting new job! You are excited and relieved...but how is your boss going to react when you resign?

Back in the past, you handed in your notice and looked forward to your leaving party - but it’s not quite that simple anymore. Today, when you hand in your notice, there is a realistic chance that you will receive a counter offer. But beware, after the initial flattery and extra cash have lost their appeal, you may still be left feeling exactly as you did when you started looking for a new opportunity. 

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 to the board/senior management for losing this person?
  • Where is he/she going?
  • Can I get them to stay until I find a replacement and have an effective handover?
  • How can I get them to stay? 

If you are a valuable member of the team, 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 like 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 too low, no promotion in sight, not liking your boss etc. 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 further down the line.

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 of 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:

  • The 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.

Our Guide to Navigating a Counter Offer


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