The term ‘counter-offer’ is being used more and more frequently in today’s recruitment climate, but when feelings of flattery are set to one side, what’s the reality of actually accepting one?
This summer, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation confirmed that the UK officially entered a candidate driven market; evidenced by a rise in empty roles and salaries and a drop in the availability of talent. As such, top candidates are finding themselves in the enviable position of being involved in numerous recruitment processes which often result in multiple, competitive job offers. For current employers, who have often failed to sustain the commitment of their top talent, responding with a counter-offer tends to be their logical next step. After all, do they really want to enter into the talent war and spend time and money replacing a top performer? Of course not. So, whilst it may seem very flattering to be offered a pay rise, the promise of more responsibility and other “exciting” challenges, it’s crucial that you remember the employer’s drivers for this knee-jerk reaction. If you’re still not convinced, I‘ve outlined three reasons below why I don’t think you should accept a counter-offer.
1. Too little too late:
You have taken the time to engage in conversations about new opportunities, you have researched different businesses, attended interviews and got excited about new challenges and the nice uplift in pay that they offer. Therefore, to engage in all of the above, there must be certain elements of your current role that you are not happy about. I often have conversations with people that talk about “no room for progression”, “feeling undervalued”, “wanting a fresh challenge”; it’s typically these feelings that prompt a new search. So, even if you are offered more money and more responsibility, you have to ask yourself why they didn’t feel it necessary to understand and deliver on your motivations and needs whilst you were fully committed to the business.
It’s quite similar to the renewal of your mobile phone contract. The time comes for your upgrade, you shop around to find the best deal which happens to be with a different provider and suddenly your current supplier can manage to match or better your offer. They want you to stay because they make money from your contract. Similarly, your employer doesn’t want you to leave because of the value you generate in your role. What’s more, they’ll begin to think about the impact on team morale should you leave, the costs to replace you and how it would affect your immediate team in terms of workload. Alongside this, if you do decide to stay your employer will know that you aren’t happy and therefore, there will always be a question around your commitment to the role.
2. Burning bridges:
Research shows that if you accept a counter-offer there is a 90% chance that you won’t still be in the job within six months. There are a few reasons for this. Similarly to the above, there’s a reason you went looking in the first place; often the unsatisfied feelings that initiated your search won’t go away with a bit more money in the bank! In addition to this, there is a lot of evidence to show that when businesses go through restructures or need to make cutbacks, employers begin looking at who is really loyal to the business. They will hone in on who they believe is there for long-term career progression and who is not; unfortunately it isn’t difficult to guess which camp they would place you into.
What’s more, by accepting a counter-offer, you have to understand what that does to the relationship with the business that offered you the new position. If you have gone through a lengthy process in order to receive an offer, then one would assume that you have a desire to work there and respect what they do as a business. If you then decide to decline their offer and remain in your current post, you create a lot of frustration for the prospective employer and most probably burn bridges for any opportunity to work there in the future.
3. False flattery:
Your employer is begging you to stay, showering you with compliments such as; “How will we cope without you?”,“We’ll never find anyone as good as you”,“We were actually planning on giving you a pay rise at your next review” and “We have a really important project coming up that we would love you to lead”. It feels good, right? You suddenly feel flattered and in high demand. This is the hard part where you really need to learn to say no! You have to wonder why your employer hadn’t raised any of these things prior to you handing in your resignation. At the risk of sounding repetitive, your departure would cause your employer a huge hassle and therefore, it is in their best interest to reduce the time, effort and money that it would cost to replace you by offering what appears to be exactly what you are looking for. In reality, you have to be truly certain that these promises would prevail if you were to stay with the business.
So if a counter-offer leaves you weighing up your options, I would encourage you to:
- Think carefully about how you will be perceived from both parties should you accept the counter-offer
- Ensure you know exactly why you decided to pursue new opportunities in the first place and don’t let flattery blur your vision
- Consider the future and ask yourself which opportunity actually offers you the long-term career progression, stability, challenge and happiness that you’re seeking from your career.