The Risks of Accepting Counter Offers

Posted on Scientific Staffing. 30 November, 2017

The modern workplace has become very different from what our parents experienced. Gone are the days of people working their whole life for just one company. In today’s knowledge-based economy, changing jobs every couple of years has become the new normal. In a recent survey by Accountemps, 57 percent of employees between the ages of 18 and 34 said changing jobs every few years was beneficial for their career. Some of the possible benefits of an occasional career change include:

  • Higher salary
  • A more compatible corporate culture
  • Gain new skills
  • Promotions
  • New challenges and opportunities for growth
  • Create new relationships and networking opportunities
  • The opportunity to redefine yourself

Finding the right employer is not an easy task. As with any relationship, it’s important to know when it is time to move on and find a position that is a better fit for you. If you’ve gone through the process of finding a new job and have received an appealing offer from another company, then it’s time to submit your letter of resignation at your current place of employment. Before you take the plunge and submit the letter, however, you should be prepared to receive a counteroffer.

In today’s competitive job market, counteroffers are becoming much more common. It takes lot of time and money for an organization to find and replace valuable talent, so unless the decision is mutual, your company will likely want to find a way to keep you on staff. While accepting counteroffers can seem tempting in the moment, there are several reasons why it is usually wise to reject them. In this article, we will discuss how to evaluate and respond to your employer’s counteroffer.

Understanding Your Job Dissatisfaction

Before submitting your resignation letter, and ideally before you even begin the search for a new job, it is important to make sure you thoroughly analyze why you are leaving your current job. Job dissatisfaction can stem from an inadequate salary, incompatibility with your manager, insufficient benefits, boredom with the work, lack of career advancement opportunities, inability to maintain a healthy life/work balance, or many other reasons. Write down your reasons, and map out how your new position facilitates your desired improvements.

Counteroffers can be ego-inflating, as it’s always nice to feel wanted. When you finally do submit your resignation letter, you need to be prepared for flattery such as:

  • “You are much too valuable for us to let you go so easily!”
  • “We had no idea you were unhappy. Let’s work something out to keep you on the team!”
  • “We really like your work and have been planning to give you a raise/promotion. Are you sure we can’t work this out?”

It’s wise to assess the motives and sincerity behind the counteroffer. Oftentimes, it’s not so much about you – it’s about them. It can be a challenging and expensive task to replace you, and the counteroffer may be simply an attempt to avoid the disruption your departure creates. Assuming you made a sincere attempt to resolve the issues that made you start looking for a new job in the first place, why did it take your letter of resignation to prompt an offer to keep you around? Is this really the company you want to be working for?

If you have done the work of clearly identifying and mapping out why you are switching to a new employer, then navigating a counteroffer conversation will not be so challenging. You can simply stand firm in your convictions and respond with something like, “I have enjoyed the opportunity to make significant contributions in my role here. At this time, however, I have made up my mind and intend to accept the other offer.”

Reasons to Reject a Counteroffer

There are a number of potential unpleasant consequences to be aware of for employees that accept a counter-offer:

Wage Stagnation. While the pay raise that is part of your counteroffer may seem appealing, it’s important to know that all companies have budgets with wage guidelines. Counteroffers that involve wage increase are likely just future raises granted early. You should not expect another raise anytime soon after accepting a counteroffer with a wage increase.

Damaged Relationships with Coworkers. If the details about your new deal leak out to the rest of the office, your relationships with coworkers may be damaged. Given the new perks you were offered as part of the counteroffer package, coworkers may feel resentful that you got these benefits over them for nothing other than turning in your notice. By accepting a counteroffer, you may end up creating an uncomfortable situation for yourself in the office, and lose the personal satisfaction of peer group acceptance.

Stunted Career Development. After your employer’s initial relief that you accepted the counteroffer has faded, you may find that your credibility and reputation within the organization has fundamentally changed. Your manager may always question your loyalty and wonder if your resume is still out there. You may be perceived as a dissatisfied employee, or “the one who wanted to leave.” This could cause you to be passed over for future promotions or important projects, or put you at the top of the list when the time comes for your company to make cutbacks in the future.

The Same Issues Resurface. Often, the major reasons that people make a job change are for issues other than money. If the primary reason you accepted the counteroffer was an increase in salary, then the dissatisfaction created by these same issues will return after the glow of the pay raise and feelings of being appreciated wear off. Additionally, any corporate culture changes promised in your counteroffer may not last. The reality is that, a few months after accepting the counteroffer, you may be back to job hunting.

Destroys Your Relationship with the New Employer. Going all the way through a company’s hiring process only to turn around and accept your current employer’s counteroffer is not the best approach to establishing a good professional relationship. You shouldn’t expect the prospective employer to ever consider you for a position again, and this is important to consider if it’s a company that you’d really like to keep your options open with for the future.

Conclusion

It’s important to remove your ego from the equation when evaluating an employer’s counteroffer. Don’t let flattery sway your resolve. You need to be clear on what the issues are that caused you to seek a new job in the first place, and evaluate the counteroffer from this perspective. Unless the counteroffer addresses all of the reasons why you considered leaving in the first place, it’s best to move on. Even if the counteroffer does address all your issues, there are still significant potential drawbacks to consider.

The bottom line is that accepting a counteroffer is almost always a mistake. Be clear on the reasons that led you to pursue a new opportunity in the first place when you submit your letter of resignation, and go confidently on your way. Do make a point to leave on good terms and not burn any bridges, however. A week after leaving the company, send a thank you note that describes all the lessons you learned while employed, expresses your gratitude for the opportunity to contribute to the company, and wishes them continued success.

About the Author

  Amy Rand is a Recruiting Manager in Astrix Technology Group’s Scientific and Technical Staffing Division. Ms. Rand manages a large team nationally that focuses on hiring, training, and coaching highly technical and skilled professionals with a proven track record within the Life-Science Community. She specializes in working with global clients and hiring teams within the Food and Beverage, Biotechnology, Government, Cosmetics, and Pharmaceutical Medical Device Industries. Ms. Rand previously worked in Pharmaceutical Medical Device Sales and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with a specialization in Health Communication from Ohio University

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