Should I Accept a Counter-Offer?

We’ve all been there. You’ve been approached for a new role, and it’s actually quite tempting. The industry is inspiring, it’s a fast-growing company, your new colleagues are fun and the offices are the best you’ve ever seen, even if it’s offering 100% flexibility which some are referring to as the “new compensation”. You’ve accepted their offer and are excited for what’s ahead in your career. But, there’s something else you need to do. 

Leave your current employer and hand in your resignation. 

For those that haven’t heard of the term before a counter-offer is when you resign from your current position after being offered a new role in a different company. Your current employer doesn’t want you to leave, and offers you something to make you stay!

It’s a nerve-racking time. Gut-wrenching at times, this isn’t the first time (or maybe it is) but it never seems to get easier that’s for sure. At WeEngage we know the best talent should expect a counteroffer but since the pandemic started, the war for talent is well and truly on with companies trying harder and harder than ever before to retain talent. So, we wanted to put together a little guide to remind you of what a counteroffer is, and how you can manage the process so YOU get the best outcome. 

Remember, this is all about you. 

One of the best ways to respond to such a situation is by politely saying, “No, thank you.” You may be surprised that you are being told to decline your manager’s counteroffer, but let us explain why.

Why Did You Want to Leave Your Job in the First Place?

It’s essential to understand why you wanted to leave the company and use that as a reminder. Identifying issues and working through ways to fix them in the past should have indicated you need to leave your job. It’s important you know exactly why you wanted to leave in the first place. I know headhunters and managers can be persuasive, but there’s a reason you entertained the initial calls – what was that reason? 

Below is listed some of the issues that may have affected your professional life:

  • Being underpaid – money isn’t everything, but it’s important. 
  • You are seeking more challenging work and your current role just isn’t hitting the mark. 
  • If you have a long commute to the office and it is lowering your quality of life and you realised you’re just as productive at home. Maybe your current employer isn’t keen on remote working, and you could have just bagged yourself a remote opportunity!

Whatever the reason is for quitting your job, it would be essential to analyse it and make every attempt possible to sort out these issues. We’d always recommend being proactive so try and sort the problems before you leave. If you find these issues irreparable, that could be the ultimate deal-breaker.

Suppose your manager suddenly offers you a raise; you need to ask yourself why they are doing this if they denied it when you asked before? Why all of a sudden are they offering me this remote role when 4 weeks ago it didn’t exist?  The most likely cause is that your manager may not want to deal with the work disruptions that your departure from the company could create, not to mention the expense too, and often counter-offers work out cheaper for the company in the long run, than finding your replacement. 

Don’t Waver Your Decision to Change Jobs

If you took the time to identify why you want to leave, there is no point in wavering your decision to change jobs. When you tried to fix those issues in your control and nothing worked, it was a sure sign that they were unfixable. 

You have now found a new job that aligns much better with your aspirations and career goals. Don’t feel flattered or let your ego fluster by being offered more money. That can only cloud your judgment and make you doubt your decision. 

It’s best to feel secure about the process because you have already done your homework before seeking a new job. 

If you begin to consider your manager’s counteroffer and second guess your acceptance of the new job, consider the other factors that may change if you stay (besides a higher salary). This is vital. Money is important, but what else besides this was making you want to leave? 

Make sure to take an honest look at your deal-breaker issues and reasons for wanting to switch jobs. If you accept the counteroffer, will they somehow magically disappear? The answer is maybe but for how long? From our experience, those issues will return after a period of time. 

Why Counteroffers to Exiting Employees Are Counterproductive

A counteroffer may come in the form of more money for the same duties and role, a new promotion, or simply making the changes you identified. Even though you think they may have heard your concerns, it is good to note that the trust between both parties could be now broken. But, only you will know this.

The truth is that if your boss wanted to give you what you asked for, they would have done it long ago. Now that you are leaving, it poses more of an inconvenience to the company; hence it makes you an offer you can’t refuse. It is vital to consider the above if you are considering accepting the counteroffer.

People don’t always quit their job because they want more compensation; other common reasons include shorter daily commutes, remote options, career advancement with more precise paths for growth, better benefits, and better job opportunities. What are your reasons? We recommend writing them down and being honest with yourself. “Could this be fixed by accepting the counter? Why has this not been fixed in the past?” are questions you should be asking yourself. But take your time, it’s important to get it right. 

If you would like to put it simply, counteroffers are not a long-term solution because they don’t generally address the underlying issues. Of course, this is a generalisation and only you know the real answer to this, but it’s something to consider, that’s for sure. 

Be Aware of the Wider Market

If you accept a counteroffer that results in an exponential salary increase, you may end up being overpaid compared to the market salary for your experience level. The remunerations won’t accurately reflect your value in the market, making it challenging to make an external move in the future. It’s something that not many people think about but it should definitely be something you should consider. We’ve seen counter offers in excesses of €30,000 in the past 6 months! 

Closing Comments

Ultimately you need to ask yourself two questions to find your answer:

  • Are you happy with the environment you are in and simply feel you’re underpaid? Then accept the counteroffer if money was the biggest motivating factor to move.
  • Are you no longer satisfied with the culture, work challenges and career growth where money will only provide you with a temporary plaster? Well then maybe accepting a counteroffer is not for you and you should proceed with your original plan to move companies. 

We really hope this article has been insightful to you. You are not alone in the way you are feeling right now if you’re reading this as you are about to hand in your resignation. If you need some help even if we haven’t secured the role for you, we’d be happy to have a chat and offer impartial support and guidance. Get in touch! 

About the author

Thomas Heywood

Thomas Heywood

Hey, I'm Tom! I'm one of the founders of the WeEngage Group! We're always open to suggestions and keen to hear feedback so do get in touch if there's anything, in particular, you want us to write about. I hope you enjoy our content & happy learning!

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