Career Flatline: Why it’s never a good idea to accept a counter offer…

Gone are the days when a counter offer of a few thousand dollars would successfully retain a resigning staff member. Today people leave jobs for a range of reasons, which are seldom addressed by a counter offer. From looking for a new challenge to career advancement, a desire to work with newer technology or within an organisation where they can contribute and feel valued, people change jobs for a range of reasons.

Why then would a pay rise, new job title or additional benefits be anything other than a superficial tactic to convince you to stay?

If you receive a counter offer, it’s worth considering the reasons why you initially looked for a new role to begin with.

They must have been serious and genuine since you not only looked for a new job but applied, were interviewed and accepted a position elsewhere. These are not the actions of someone satisfied in their current role.

Of course it is flattering when your boss makes a counter offer upon hearing of your decision to resign. But if you look at the situation objectively, you’ll see that recruiting a replacement for a vacated role can be time consuming. We are all time-poor, your boss included, so if there’s even a small possibility of avoiding interviewing, onboarding and training up someone new, your boss will take it.

However the statistics show counter-offers rarely work. A survey of 2,752 organisations, representing over 2.6 million (2,686,179) employees, shows that of the staff they counter-offered, 46 per cent left anyway, four per cent stayed less than three months, 21 per cent stayed between three and 12 months, and just 29 per cent stayed longer than 12 months.

Those in the latter group have employers who actively seek to address the reasons that drove them to accept another job. Rather than offering a hollow new job title or a few additional benefits, they make real change that motivates, engages and develops the career of their employee.

But the majority of people are not so lucky and find themselves resigning again within a year. Their original motivations for looking elsewhere are not addressed, meaning their career is in limbo and engagement and motivation are low. Added to this is the broken trust that now exists with your boss, which can be very difficult to deal with.

While every situation is unique, I would urge you to consider your original motivations for leaving and question if the counter offer is really worth remaining for.

Jane McNeill
About the author: 

Based in Sydney, Austrailia, Jane McNeill is Managing Director at Hays, the leading professional recruiting group in the UK and Asia Pacific regions – and a recruiting leader in Continental Europe and Latin America.   She’s held numerous executive positions with Hays since 1987.  Follow her on LinkedIn.