What is a Counter-Offer?

A counter-offer is not simply negotiating a salary; it is any kind of incentive your present employer gives you to convince you not to leave the company once you have announced to resign. Most often a counter-offer comes in the form of a salary raise or a promotion; but can also be a promise of career advancement or growth, or a change of job description to better satisfy your needs and wants.

When you announce your resignation, what your boss might think, but say instead:

Think:I can’t afford to lose another employee right now; we’re behind schedule, I’m up for review, and I don’t have time to find and hire a replacement right now. If I can keep this person here long enough, I can take time to find a good replacement who won’t cost as much as this person. I can’t trust this person’s loyalty; there’s nowhere for this person to go in the company anymore, so I’ll let them go when it better suits me.

Say:”I had no idea you were unsatisfied with your job; what can we do to make you happier here? I was just working out the terms of your upcoming promotion; I think you will be very pleased with the increase in your base salary and the quarterly bonus I have added. You are very valuable to our company, and it will really hurt company morale if you leave. What can we do to make you want to stay with us?”

Reasons for not Accepting a Counter-Offer:

  1. The very best companies rarely make counter-offers because they believe they treat their employees fairly and wish them well if a better opportunity exists somewhere else.
  2. Statistics show that you will probably end up leaving anyway; but now on their terms, not yours. The National Business Employment Weekly reports that within one year of accepting a counter-offer, 80% of people voluntarily leave the company because of promises not kept, or the company lets them go.
  3. Counter-Offers are usually a means of putting off your leaving until it is better timing for the company. In today’s market, demand for talent isn’t that high; the company will immediately begin searching for a replacement who won’t cost as much as you.
  4. The damage is done: you will be considered a risk because your loyalty will always be in question; your decision to leave the company (and then not leave because of money or another promise) will be remembered.
  5. Accepting a counter-offer could result in a career-block. Your lack of loyalty will affect management’s future decisions regarding raises and promotions because they never know if you will threaten to resign again in a few months so you can get another raise. Also, you saw better opportunities at the new company, staying could decrease your chances of achieving your career potential.
  6. You will no longer be considered a team player; your coworkers may resent you for your lack of loyalty, and peer acceptance will lower.
  7. How much do you think your hard work was respected and valued if you had to threaten to leave before they would recognize it and pay you for your worth? Don’t let a counter-offer be an ego boost that gets you to stay in an unsatisfying job.
  8. Is the money from the counter-offer simply your next raise, given earlier?
  9. Morale: Essentially, the company had to buy you out to get you to stay.
  10. If times get bad and management has to lay off people; you will be the first to go.
  11. It might be a slow descent into frustration. Usually, the reasons you wanted to leave in the first place will still be there, and you’ll be back at square one, looking for another job.

Tips when you receive a Counter-Offer:

Maintain a business decision mindset:
Don’t let emotions like guilt get the best of you. Your boss could make a comment like, “Where is your loyalty and appreciation? I did so much for you to progress within this company, how could you do this?” If that happens, remember you already gave your word to another company, and you can’t rescind that decision.

Don’t forget the reasons you decided to leave in the first place:
Chances are, the aspects you didn’t like won’t really change. You may be able to tolerate the job when you’re getting paid more, but the reasons that made you want to leave will eventually resurface.

Keep Your Priorities in Check:
What are the most important aspects of a job to you: Salary? Relationship with your boss? The people who work there? A challenging environment? Location? Opportunities to showcase your particular talents, interests, skills, knowledge? Leadership opportunities? List them and make a check-list of each aspect under your current job and under your prospective job. Weigh each. Chances are, the reasons for leaving will outweigh the reasons for staying, that’s why you began looking for another job in the first place.