Counter Offers – too little too late or too good to turn down?

Published: 8 May 2015

Feeling wanted and appreciated is a simple but powerful emotional pull as a human being. Good employees are in short supply and any employer faced with a strong member of their team resigning will be naturally disappointed to see that individual tender their resignation.  They fully appreciate not only what impact your loss will have across the team/wider business but also understand how hard it will be to find a suitable replacement.

Individuals tend to move on for a combination of reasons; whether that’s remuneration, career development, location, improved training and development or simply interest in a specific sector/company.

Having drafted your resignation letter and approached your manager, you need to anticipate their next move. Some will congratulate you on your new role, recognise the contribution you have made to the business and wish you luck in the next chapter of your career. A key part of any managers job is to train, nurture and develop their team and see them grow.

Others may get a bit upset and take it rather personally that you are leaving; thankfully this doesn’t happen too often.  Several will try and persuade you to stay with the business by offering you a counter offer. This may take the shape of an increase in your base salary to get close to, match or even exceed the external offer or the promise/creation of a new role/promotion.

Whilst it is always flattering to feel wanted, don’t lose sight of the reason you opted to consider a move in the first place and accept a role with your new employer. Your skill set hasn’t changed from the minute you walked into your managers office armed with your resignation letter, so why did it take your resignation to be rewarded with a pay rise or the promise of a new role? Would this have been offered had you not resigned? 

If my 14 years in recruitment has shown me anything it’s that those individuals who do succumb to the counter offer are typically on the phone again after six months admitting that they made a mistake by staying with the company. Frequently the main reason people move on is for the softer reasons versus a pure remuneration increase and therefore some of those issues around culture, working environment, future career prospects, etc. are not erased by a simple uplift in salary.

Should you stay and opt to accept the counter offer your loyalty maybe questioned – will you get access to those confidential projects in the future? You will only be able to do this once – so you are unlikely to get a further counter offer twelve months later should you resign again.

Do not use the counter offer to try and re-negotiate a higher offer with your new employer – this doesn’t create the right impression and could damage your career with the new firm even before you set foot in the door.

So before tendering your resignation, remind yourself the reasons why you chose to explore a new opportunity in the first place and consider these tips:

1.  Don’t fall for the flattering comments

2.  Do stay true to yourself and remember all the reasons why you choose to explore a new opportunity

3.  Always resign in a professional manner – it’s such a small world and far better to part on good terms. 

Richard Guest is a Consultant in the Supply Chain & Procurement Practice at Berwick Partners

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