The Counter Offer: To take it or not to take it?

Most of us have been there at one point or another in our career, and if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it most likely will at some point. You come to the decision that you want to move on, and when you think you have settled on your decision, which may well have been a very difficult one, your current employer presents you with a tempting and sometimes highly compelling offer to stay.

According to Fortune, the global media organisation, approximately 50% of people who resign from their roles are made a counter of some sort. Incredibly, 57% of people who are made a counteroffer decide to accept it. And most significantly, 80% of people who accept a counteroffer have moved on from that company after six months. By the time a year is up that figure is up beyond 90%.

The message from this then is this. Consider the counter offer with care.

Here, Interfacio Consultant and Director of Business Development, Europe Isabelle Wear talks about her experience and view on this phenomenon which we are finding is becoming all the more common in today’s highly competitive talent market.

“From my experience, it doesn’t work. Give it six months to one year and you will be open again and you may well be regretting that you did not accept the offer from the new company when you had the chance. Money is not everything, so be careful not to get blinded by it. The same applies to improved benefits or titles and responsibility, especially when they are not truly earned or given in the context of being in a ‘normal’ working position and relationship of trust.

Remember the reasons why you were open to a new career move in the first place, and consider your motivation.  Think carefully about your own career progression and professional development, as well as the things you feel have been wrong or missing in your current role. Look closely at what is driving you, whether you are happy and in ‘flow’ in your role, as well as your state of mind, at home as well as at work. Of course, money and other benefits will be a factor but job satisfaction and a fulfilled, challenged and valued mindset must be considered and seen as at least equally important.

We have seen this scenario time and time again and we usually ask our candidates when they are considering or approaching a move:  If your current employer was going to counter offer what would you do? People will often say “it is too late, I have definitely made my decision, I am committed to moving on.” But counteroffers can be compelling, and by using a clever combination of emotional persuasion, citing how you are valued and needed by the business, as well as offering sudden promotion or title elevation, plus of course cold hard cash, whether as salary, bonus or even perhaps stock options, people can easily have their head turned.

Remember, at a time when you are facing change and may have been working through a tough decision, it doesn’t take much to impact the confidence you have in the decision you have made. And flattery or positive reinforcement of your own self-image or value to the business can feel good.

As the numbers show, when faced with a counter offer, many people do reflect and decide to stay. But on many occasions when we speak with them later they will very often view that decision to have been the wrong one and will look back and see the new terms that were offered and accepted as a temporary fix driven by the needs of the business and not really in the interests of their own career development.

Earlier in my own career, I remember receiving an offer and when speaking to my manager somehow hoping that he will not let me go. But what were the real reasons behind this I ask myself? Ego; fear of the unknown; wanting to stay in my comfort zone, or some of all of these? The truth is that my heart was not with it anymore and luckily for me, my boss knew it too so knew there was no point. The moment that you look elsewhere, you are kind of gone.

Thinking more about the psychology of these situations, deciding or starting to explore the possibility to leave for one reason or another, creates itself a powerful mindset shift. This will likely take you on a journey of exploring and this will stir mixed emotions, probably involving excitement and confidence but also anxiety and perhaps even a little self-doubt, at least until you secure your desired new offer. But then you are in a great position. You have a new opportunity to further develop your career and your professional self. A new challenge and a new employer who recognises your value to their organisation and is willing to invest in you.

In the end, there is no right or wrong answer for each person or scenario and only you can know deep down the answer of what is the right thing to do when faced with a counter offer. BUT be sure to take the time to carefully consider and assess your current situation versus your potential new future one and try to remain objective considering all of the factors and considerations that were in play before you announced your intention to leave and the counter offer was made.

Remember, whatever is put on the table and however compelling that may seem, the cost of this to the company is being weighed carefully and practically, cynically or unconsciously, against the real cost of replacing you in the business. This will apply both in terms of the recruitment process itself but also in terms of training, onboarding and re-establishing the working effectiveness of whatever and whoever will need to come after you within the business.

A counter offer may well be a valuable indication of your own value in your industry or chosen field. But it is unlikely to be a good reason, on its own, to accept it and stay. If anything, perhaps the best way to deal with a counteroffer is to use it to enable you to review and reaffirm the decision you have made to move on. Then take the counter offer to give you the confidence and reassurance you may need to progress positively to the next exciting chapter of your career.

Above all, always be true to yourself and good luck!”

If you are currently considering your own career progression and potential opportunities for development and would like to discuss any of this in confidence with one of our consultant team, you can following the links below to get in touch with us.