How to handle counter offers

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How to handle counter offers

So, you’ve accepted a new job, written your resignation letter and handed in your notice to your boss. Simple right? Chances are it’s not going to be as straightforward as your boss wishing you all the best and agreeing a finish date.  More often than not, companies will try to persuade their best people to change their mind and stay by presenting them with a counter offer.

Please don’t go

Counter offers will vary but common enticements offered might include:


  • Salary increase 
  • Extra holidays
  • Flexible working
  • Better projects to work on

Yes, it can feel very flattering to be in this position but it’s really important to keep a clear head and remember why you decided it was time to move on in the first place!  It can be really helpful to write a pros and cons list to remind yourself exactly why you were looking for a new job and to really think about whether things would actually change if you decided to stay put. 


Ulterior motives

It’s nice to be wanted but ask yourself why your current employer is trying to persuade you not to leave.  If you’re a star employee your boss won’t want to lose you and you should be prepared for a counter offer to come your way but if you’ve been feeling under-appreciated or disengaged it might come as a surprise.  So why should you always be prepared to be wooed?  

In today’s increasingly competitive job market, it can take a lot of time, effort and money to hire a new employee.  It will almost certainly be cheaper and less hassle for them to give you a salary bump rather than having to recruit and train a new employee.  This is especially the case if you surprise them with your resignation at a busy time or in the middle of a project.  Remember though, it’s business and not personal. Your company is offering you to stay because it’s in their best interests, not yours. You may be made to feel indispensable now but think about what might happen in the future. Could they simply be buying time until they find a replacement?  By handing in your notice you’re effectively sacking your boss. Resignations can also reflect on a line manager’s record or performance appraisals and bonuses.  Always remember that while it’s flattering to be asked to stay, the offer is motivated by what’s best for them rather than for you.


Just say no

In some instances, accepting a counter offer may be the right thing to do. However, before you say yes, take these points into consideration:

You had to quit to get a pay rise

All of a sudden you became more valuable after giving notice. Why were you not offered a pay rise before? It should make you question how valued you really are by the organisation and subsequently whether you wish to continue working there.


Things won't change

A pay rise or extra holidays may sound appealing, but it won’t change the reasons you wanted to leave an organisation in the first place. The frustration and dissatisfaction that led you to seek new job opportunities will remain regardless.


You may be shunned

When you give notice you have, in effect, fired your boss. As in many types of relationships, the rebuffed party will begin to bargain and ask for another chance. No one wants to be the dumpee, after all. 

But once you have agreed to a counter offer and your boss’ anxiety has eased, resentment, mistrust and suspicion will surface and you will likely be excluded from the inner circle as a result. Co-workers may also resent the fact that you received a raise considering you were prepared to leave the company which makes for an uncomfortable working environment. 


Job security will diminish

Your boss may have fought to keep you in the organisation but the next time they need to let some employees go, you will be at the top of the list. Given your perceived disloyalty, once they have the opportunity to lay you off on their terms, they are likely to take it. 

You're going to leave anyway

Four out of five employees who accept counter offers end up leaving the company within nine months due to the reasons stated above.

You've already accepted an offer

What about the new job offer you already accepted? By hiring you, that employer has demonstrated a belief that you are valuable, and you haven't even completed your first day yet. 

Your current employer, on the other hand, has begrudgingly offered you more money for you to stay to suit their own purposes. Also, leading on a prospective employer by attending interviews, negotiating, accepting an offer and allowing them to think the job has been filled is a bad career strategy in general.

Remember: People don't tend to leave their companies; they leave their managers. Be sure to look after your best career interests and take all aspects of your individual situation into account.