Counter Offers – should I stay or should I go?

You’ve made the decision to take the next step in your career and have found the perfect opportunity. Interviews have been conducted and a job offer has been made, all you need to do is resign. How hard can it be? But what happens if your current employer asks you to stay?

With many industries currently experiencing skill shortages, we are seeing an increase in counter offers whereby current employers are asking employees “what can we do to keep you?” to entice them to stay. Employers don’t want to see top talent walk out the door especially if they are highly regarded within their organisation. They also may be thinking that they don’t have time to train and onboard someone new. Research has shown that counter offers generally don’t work. It is very common to see that same candidate back on the market looking for new employment opportunities within 3 – 12 months.

As the employee, these are my top tips to consider before accepting a counter offer:

  • Don’t get swept up in the emotion of receiving a counter offer. It can be very flattering to receive a counter offer; however, ask for time to weigh up all your options rather than be forced to make a decision on the spot.
  • Consider the long-term effects of making your employer aware that you’re looking to leave. Will this affect your relationship moving forward? Will your loyalty and commitment to the organisation be questioned? Will this affect future career opportunities or the relationship you have with your colleagues?
  • Is the counter offer only linked to a salary increase? If so, why did it have to take an offer of employment elsewhere for this increase to be offered by your current employer?
  • Changing jobs can create anxieties when the “fear of the unknown” comes into play. It sometimes feels easier to stay with your current employer rather than push yourself outside your comfort zone. Write a list of the pros and cons for both your current opportunity, and your new opportunity offer you in terms of your own career progression and development.
  • Don’t make it personal. If your current manager makes you feel bad for leaving them in the lurch or tries to guilt you into staying because they are understaffed, remove the emotion from the situation and make the best decision for you and your career.
  • Will the counter offer from your employer be provided to you in writing? Recently I had a candidate withdraw their application because their current employer was willing to offer them the flexibility they needed for work/life balance. They offered the flexibility to work from home and to be able to pick the kids up from school when required, but none of this was put in writing. It is very easy for an employer to renege on working conditions at a later stage when nothing is formalised in writing. If this happens, your next ideal role will be long gone.
  • Reflect on the reasons you looked for a new role in the first place, will the counter offer be able to match these? For example, if you are wanting career development or a chance to develop your skills further, gain commitment from your current employer to develop a long-term plan before accepting their offer.

Allow yourself the time to weigh up all your options rather than feel rushed to make a decision on the spot. I hope these tips allow you to determine whether the counter offer will actually change the reason why you chose to seek alternate employment. In many cases, it’s likely that the new opportunity is the role that ticks all the boxes otherwise you wouldn’t have started looking in the first place.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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