“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”: Dealing with counter-offers

June 23, 2023

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”: Dealing with counter-offers

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

This is a concept we are all likely to be familiar with and, within the HR recruitment market, we are becoming increasingly aware of the unexpected response candidates receive when they choose to hand their notice in: the counter-offer.

In a market where employers are becoming progressively more anxious about losing valued employees, the counter-offer has been more prevalent this year than previous years.

How will my manager respond?

From day one of a candidate’s job search, we encourage everyone to imagine how they would feel about resigning. Handing in your resignation is a daunting task and persuasion tactics from both a current employer and prospective employer, for the majority, will be an overwhelming and sometimes intimidating process. There are pros and cons for accepting any offer and no decision should ever be taken lightly. It all boils down to a candidate’s motivations for leaving: If one is seeking progression and development, and the counter-offer includes being offered the career step they have been dreaming of, why wouldn’t they choose to accept it?

Surely more money is better?…

Salary amendments are often the first step employers will consider when faced with an employee resigning. An increase in salary may feel like a win for an employee but this can often be a short-term reflection and more deep-rooted problems in the workplace can rarely be resolved with just a pay-rise. Many employees also feel that this gesture is “too little, too late” and the main question to consider is why did your resignation have to act as the catalyst? This may evidence that you had been underpaid previously. At the other end of the spectrum, the financial gain of accepting a counter-offer may seem initially tempting but this may result in someone being overpaid compared to market rate. If you consider moving again in the future, your salary may not correctly reflect your value.

Who will replace me?

Recruiting someone to replace the person leaving is both a timely and costly task to an employer. To avoid this nuisance, many employers will offer the world; something that can be a tempting proposition. Emotional tactics may also come into play; as much as we would like to believe the world would stop turning without us, we are all replaceable.

Will I be at risk in the future?

Accepting a counter-offer will rarely mend the factors that drove you to look for a new job in the first place. Emotions may continue to run high if someone chooses to stay and, despite a counter-offer acceptance and the subsidence of initial anxieties, the trust will inevitably diminish. You may experience feelings of suspicion and resentment from your boss and your future loyalty may be questioned. You may also feel in a vulnerable position if your firm looks at making internal restructures.

What if I make the wrong decision?

Around 70% of those who have accepted a counter-offer find themselves back on the market, and still searching for that change 6 months later. The bottom line to be considered is: Are you truly happy working for someone who only recognises your talent when they are about to lose you?

If you would like advice around dealing with resignations and counter-offers, or would simply like the opportunity to discuss the current market, do not hesitate to get in touch.