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Should I Stay or Should I Go?: How to Respond to A Counter Offer

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?: How to Respond to A Counter Offer

As recruiters on duty, we come across many job seekers who are willing to explore the job market but may not have any apparent reasons to leave their current jobs. These groups of job seekers are more likely to drop off the hiring process, even at the offer stage, because they are more likely to accept a counter offer from their current employer. However, accepting a counter offer is not always a wise decision. Although it can be flattering to receive a counter offer from your current employer and the appeal of staying with a familiar job can be strong, it is important to consider whether accepting the counter offer will be the best decision for you in the long term.

The underlying issues that prompted a person to explore job opportunities may not disappear or improve with the counter offer. Also, a counter offer is a short-term solution to long-term underlying issues. From years of labour market experience, we can say that majority of people who accept counter offers are observed to leave their companies within the year.

What are the possible reasons you received a counter offer?

When an employee resigns from a company, the company may provide them with a counter offer in an attempt to keep them from leaving. There are a few reasons why companies make these counter offers. The first reason is that the company may want to keep you as an employee and may feel that you are an important part of the company. Additionally, the company may want to avoid the costs associated with hiring and training a new employee. Finally, the company may want to avoid the negative publicity that could come with losing a key employee. Retaining the knowledge and skills and maintaining morale among other employees are other possible reasons.

What should I do if my current employer responds to my resignation with a counter offer? 

As said, it is not uncommon for an employer to respond to an employee's resignation with a counter offer. If you are considering a counter offer, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision. In most cases, a counter offer from an employer is due to the company's management not accurately gauging the worth of its employees against other businesses in the market. Furthermore, these businesses often fail to have conversations with their employees about their career growth, which creates tension and an unhealthy disconnect between employer and employee. However, if a counter offer from an employer does manage to address the needs of the employee, it can be beneficial in the long run whether in the form of a salary increase, promotion, or role change.

Some things to consider before accepting or rejecting a counter offer include: 

  • Are the new terms of the counter offer something that you are actually interested in? Does the counter offer address the reasons why you were considering leaving in the first place? 

  • Are you confident that the employer is actually able to follow through on the new terms of the counter offer? 

  • What is the reputation of the company? Do you think that they would be likely to make similar counter offers to other employees who resign? 

  • What are your long-term goals? Would staying in the company with the counter offer help you to achieve your goals or not?

There are a few pros and cons of accepting a counter offer rather than a new job offer. Even though cases can be quite specific, in order to help you with your decision-making process we list here the main reasons why or why not you should accept the counter offer from your current employer.

Reasons why you should consider the counter offer

In general, receiving a counter offer may mean that your employer is willing to invest in you and accepting it may show your employer that you are committed to the company and are willing to work hard for the company in the future as well. Here are the main reasons why you should accept the offer from your employer.

More money and better benefits – This is usually the number one reason why people choose to accept a counter offer from their current employer. If you were unhappy with your current salary, a counter offer demonstrates that the company is finally willing to pay you what you are worth. Additionally, accepting a counter offer may set a precedent for future negotiations and could make it easier to negotiate a higher salary in the future as well. Along with a higher salary, you may also be able to negotiate better benefits from your current employer. This could include a more generous vacation package, health insurance, or retirement benefits. 

Job security and convenience– One of the main reasons people accept counter offers is for job security. If you are worried about finding another job, staying with your current employer may give you the stability and security you are looking for. Accepting a counter offer from your current employer can also be more convenient than starting a job search from scratch. You already know the company, your co-workers, and the job duties, so there is less of a learning curve if you stay. 

Job Counter Offer

Reasons why you should NOT accept a counter offer: 

After considering the pros of accepting the counter offer you need to check whether those reasons are enough for you to stay or not because there are also a few reasons why you should not accept a counter offer from your employer. 

1. Things may not change as you expect them to do

The first question you should ask yourself is “why did I want to leave in the first place?”. If it’s purely financial reasons the counter offer might help indeed. However, any reasons beyond this would take way too long and a lot of effort to change.  It could be a bad team, poor leadership, or unrealistic job responsibilities. Maybe you were feeling unhappy and undervalued in your position or had issues with culture fit or trust and communication. Are you confident enough that your employers and team would be willing to take everything into consideration for you to stay? In an ideal situation, you’d hope so but there’s a high chance even though things change they wouldn’t meet your expectations and the same problems you had before are likely to come back.

2. Things might go even worse than before

If your employer asks to make a counter offer there’s a chance that it might be a stall tactic to make your stay with the company a little longer. Especially if you mention that the main reasons for your leaving would be mainly financial your employer may feel like you are not committed to the company and may start to question your loyalty and may start to wonder if you are only staying with the company because of the higher salary. It’s assumed that if your employer says they don’t want to lose you, it means they want to keep working with you but the truth can be different from that. So, if the raise is the main subject of your communication on why you’re looking for a change, a counter offer will potentially make them keep you around to prevent negative employer branding or sadly until they can find a replacement. Finally, accepting a counter offer may set a precedent for future negotiations and could make it more difficult to negotiate a higher salary in the future. That’s why if you have another job offer think about your future in your current position before declining a good opportunity.

All in all, as you can see there are a few things to consider before accepting a counter offer from your company. To summarise, think about why you were considering leaving in the first place before anything else. If the reasons are simply financial, a counter offer may be a good solution. However, if the reasons are due to a lack of opportunity for growth or poor working conditions, a counter offer is unlikely to solve those problems. Second, consider whether the counter offer is actually better than what you would be getting at a new company. Sometimes, companies will try to low-ball their employees with counter offers, so it is important to make sure that you are getting a good deal. Finally, think about the message that accepting a counter offer would send to your company. If you have already resigned, going back on your word may damage your relationship with your employer. Overall, whether or not to accept a counter offer from your company is a personal decision that depends on your individual circumstances. However, it is important to weigh all of the pros and cons before making a decision.

How to communicate your decision regarding the counter offer?

Lastly, if you decide to accept the counter offer, be sure to do so with caution. Be clear about what the new terms are and get them in writing. This will help to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding later on. If you decide to decline the counter offer, be sure to do so politely and professionally. Thank the employer for their offer and let them know that you have decided to pursue other opportunities.