After months of thinking about your career, you finally decided to leave your job and look for a new opportunity. You took the time out of your busy work schedule to apply to many job vacancies and going through nerve-wracking interviews. Finally, you receive an offer for a position you have worked hard to secure. Plucking up your courage, you determinedly hand in your resignation to your boss and to your surprise your boss offers you a salary increase or a promotion which throws you into a whirlwind of self-doubt. Should you accept the counter-offer or stick to your decision and resign?
The first question to ask yourself is ‘why am I looking to resign in the first place?' and this could be for several reasons:
1. You don’t see the opportunity for career progression or development in your role
2. You no longer feel valued and respected by your colleagues and/or manager
3. You feel you deserve a promotion or pay rise, but your manager didn’t agree
4. You no longer feel passionate about your job role and looking for a new challenge
5. You feel that your workload is overwhelming and there is no work-life balance
6. The company culture has become toxic, and you want a change
When you start having these intrusive thoughts on your mind, it’s hard to shake it off. Every job has its good and bad parts, it's your decision to determine whether the good is outweighing the bad. Before you make your final decision on whether you should accept a counter-offer or not, let’s have a look into why companies would present a counter-offer:
The real reason behind counter-offers
Hiring new employees can be challenging and expensive, especially if you are hiring for senior or executive level positions. It can be a time-consuming process finding the right candidate to fill in the role and for most companies retaining staff is more cost effective than finding new ones.
Existing employees have long been trained to have specific skills and business understanding to carry out the job. For example, if a role requires niche skills, it can be troublesome to find and train these types of people again as it would require more time and resources which can then impact productivity. Considering that we are in a talent short market, competition for certain skills and experience are becoming harder to find and secure.
If you’re a manager or an employee in a leadership role, your resignation will have a big impact on the business’s productivity, and this will have a domino effect on your team and the department you are managing. A counter-offer is one of the ways companies can avoid this widespread cost and productivity loss to a business in the short term.
Beware of temptation
Counter-offers can initially make you feel flattered and may make you think that your company is finally appreciating your value to the team, unfortunately this is not the case. Mathew Henry, a 17th century writer said, "many a dangerous temptation comes to us in fine happy colours that are but skin deep”. The same can be said for counter-offers, those magnetic enticements designed to lure you back into the nest after you've decided it's time to fly away.
The National Business Employment Weekly reports that four out of five people who accept counter-offers are gone within the year and 80% of candidates who accept a counter-offer will be looking for a job again within 6 months. Knowing this statistic, when an employee decides to leave, particularly at an inconvenient time, counter-offers are then deployed as a means of retention. This might be because there is a significant project in the pipeline or because several other team members have recently departed.
Although on the surface they may entice you with flattery saying they will miss you and offer potential promotion, salary increase and other benefits, there is an associated risk involved towards your career when you accept counter-offers. Most counter-offers are not about the company reaching out to your needs but more about meeting the company’s needs and interests at that point in time. In addition, knowing that you have the skills and experience for the position already, your value as a commodity to them is now higher.
Embracing a new opportunity
It is tempting to accept the counter-offer as you feel a sense of acknowledgement from your current employer but will staying where you are offer you the same long-term personal career development as moving to a new role? If the problem is monetary, then consider that if the company truly value your work, they would have given you the salary increase without the need of you looking for a new job. Job satisfaction is not only about monetary value but also about the relationship you have with your role and the company. Job security can also be impacted when you accept counter-offers. Once you mentioned you’re leaving, your employer will have a different view on your loyalty. They may have presented you a counter-offer, but it can be viewed as a short-term solution and in the long run your employer will remember your lack of commitment.
It goes again to the question of ‘why you are resigning in the first place?’ if the reason you’re thinking of leaving goes beyond monetary needs and the problem has not been resolved in a timely and effective manner, then you can expect the same treatment in the future.
It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone and accept a new career opportunity, but change can bring about a new direction and perspective in your life, that you may have not discovered if you didn’t take the first step. Lastly, it is also important to be professional and end things gracefully with your employer and the recruiter that worked with you on the new job opportunity - you never know when you will cross paths again.
If you encounter a counter-offer and don’t know how to handle the next step, read our advice on how to resign professionally:Resignation Advice