In the tricky and competitive 2023 job market, employees are often faced with enticing counter offers from their current employers when they decide to explore new opportunities elsewhere.
How come? Well, recruitment is expensive and time consuming. Upskilling, on boarding and training a new employee to replace another is expensive and time consuming.
So, it is often the immediate reaction to counter offer for the interests of the employer, as opposed to the long-term interests of the employee.
While the notion of a counter offer might seem appealing, it is essential to carefully consider both the advantages and disadvantages before deciding.
As an experienced Recruiter who has helped hundreds of candidates navigate the tricky process of moving from one company to another, I know first-hand that accepting a counter offer can significantly impact working relationships within an organisation, leading to unexpected consequences.
I could count on one hand the number of times it has happened and been a success for the candidate. The rest, well it is a common pattern to see when candidates decide to stay, a few months later they restart the job search process again as their motivations for leaving are reignited once the novelty wears off.
In this blog, I have highlighted the pros and cons of accepting a counter offer and how it can affect your professional relationships.
The Pros of Accepting a Counter Offer:
Salary and Benefits: One of the most apparent benefits of accepting a counter offer is an increase in salary and/ or improved benefits. Employers may be willing to offer a higher salary or additional benefits to retain a valuable employee, making it an enticing proposition for the individual.
Familiarity and Comfort: Staying with the same company can provide a sense of familiarity and comfort. Employees may be comfortable with the work culture, colleagues, and company policies, which can reduce the stress of transitioning to a new workplace.
Retention of Skills and Knowledge: Employers may value specific skills and knowledge that an employee possesses, making them more willing to negotiate a counter offer. This ensures that the company retains the expertise crucial for its operations.
The Cons of Accepting a Counter Offer:
Erosion of Trust: Accepting a counter offer often will lead to a breach of trust between the employee and the employer. The company may question the employee’s commitment and loyalty, affecting future opportunities for growth and promotion. Meaning a replacement may be lined up in the background.
Employers know better than anyone the statistics of their employees who accept counter offers, then eventually leave, so they can’t be blamed for questioning commitment at this point.
Limited Career Growth: Sure, a counter offer might secure a slight bump in monthly earnings, but it may not address other issues that prompted the decision to leave in the first place. The lack of career growth opportunities or a toxic work environment may persist, hindering professional development.
Negative Perception by Colleagues: Accepting a counter offer can create resentment among colleagues who might perceive it as a betrayal or disloyalty to their team. This could strain working relationships and lead to a less collaborative work environment.
Impact on Working Relationships: Accepting a counter offer can profoundly impact working relationships within an organisation. Colleagues may view the individual as someone who was ready to leave, potentially resulting in strained relationships. Accepting a counter offer could affect the dynamics with management, as the trust between employer and employee may be damaged. This strained relationship could lead to less involvement in decision-making processes or being excluded from crucial projects.
What does the potential new employer think: If the individual was offered a promotion or new role at their prospective job, declining it in favour of a counter offer might sour relationships with the potential new employer, potentially burning bridges for future opportunities.
Post Covid the world has become a smaller place, meaning burning bridges with future potential employers, or even the people who have vouched for the individual or supported their process in getting a new job, can have a permanent detrimental effect on future career moves.
Weighing it up:
Deciding whether to accept a counter offer or not is a significant career decision that requires careful consideration of the pros and cons. While the allure of a higher salary and familiarity might be tempting, it is vital to also consider the potential consequences on working relationships and long-term career growth.
Honest communication with both the current and potential employers is crucial during this process. Ultimately, the decision should align with the individual’s career goals and values to ensure a positive and fulfilling professional journey.
My four top tips on the counter offer dilemma
Remember the ‘Why?’: The very first question I ask a candidate is ‘Why?’ Why did you start looking in the first place? What are your pain points? What was the burning desire to move on to something new in the first place? Will extra money at the end of the month fix that burning desire or hindrance that eats at you every day you get up to go to work? If you were offered more money right now to do your current job, would you stay?
This is a point that I always take note of from my first conversation with a candidate, and when it comes to the crunch and it is time to resign, I will always bring my candidates back to this reason.
It can be an exciting, draining, up and down and all-round emotional rollercoaster when going through an interview process alone, never mind the final and sometimes dreaded hurdle of telling your boss you are leaving. So, refreshing the mind as to why you are doing it is the single most important factor here.
Speak to Family/ Partner/ Close Friend: Speaking with somebody impartial to your working environment, but who cares about your well-being, will help give you a neutral perspective on your decision.
It is not always safe to share news on a potential move internally with colleagues, as many factors can play a part in the outcome – emotional blackmail, influencing, sabotage, selfish personal gain on your colleague’s part etc.
A loved one or somebody who has your best interests at heart outside of the working environment will help you see the bigger picture and usually the greater good outcome.
Fear of change is not a negative: We often hear Fred DeVito’s saying, ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.’ or former NFL Star Ray Lewis’s saying, ‘Before anything great is really achieved, your comfort zone must be disturbed.’
The fear of joining a new company, new culture, new routine and making new work friends should not be deemed a negative factor. It should be considered with optimism, as the next step in your personal growth path.
Transparent professional guidance: Having a transparent Recruitment Consultant on your side is vital. I often tell candidates that I will give them the advice that they need to hear, not what they want to hear. As this is what consulting is all about.
My long-term goal is to build relationships with the companies I recruit for and the candidates I place, as they become my company contact for years to come.
My satisfaction comes from putting the right people in the right jobs. Sometimes this gets lost in recruitment, as it is a competitive industry.
Work with a recruiter you can trust, who can guide you from initial contact right through to offer acceptance and successful handover, whilst keeping the working relationships you have worked so hard to build intact.