Dealing with Counteroffers

So, you’ve received an offer from a company! You’ve analyzed everything: career development, growth potential, salary, benefits and all the intangibles and you have decided to accept the offer. Then, you resign from your current employer and it doesn’t go as smoothly as you anticipated.

What is a counteroffer?

  • A counteroffer is an attempt by your current employer to persuade you to stay. 
  • Why do employers counteroffer?
  • Morale is likely to suffer, particularly among your closest co-workers. Management will notice, and your resignation may be perceived as an unfavorable reflection on your boss.
  • Your absence could jeopardize the progress of a big project, lead to increased workloads for colleagues who remain behind, and even mess up vacation schedules!
  • Furthermore, it could be expensive (in terms of time, energy and money) to replace you.
  • A cheaper “solution” for the company is to make you a counteroffer. This may consist of a raise, a promotion, change in title or job description, or a combination of these factors. It may even be just a promise of change to come.
  • Be aware that this “solution” may actually be a stalling technique.
  • By buying you back, the company has bought itself some time, perhaps to finish that big project, reorganize other team members, or search for a suitable replacement for you.

When does the counteroffer occur?

  • It occurs any time from the day you submit your resignation to the day you leave. It can also occur even after you have left your current employer.
  • How do employers counteroffer? Since your company wants to attract you to stay, a counteroffer will usually come cloaked in flattery. It may sound something like this:
  • “But you know we’re right in the middle of a big project! And you’re much too valuable to the team to desert us now!” This may be an emotional plea, pulling on your heart strings.
  • “We didn’t want to tell you until next quarter, but we were just about to give you a raise/promotion to show you how much we appreciate your work. Why don’t we make it effective immediately instead of having you wait any longer?” This may be false. Good news is a motivator, why would they wait until you resign to give you the good news?
  • “Why, we had no idea you were unhappy with anything here. Let’s discuss this further before you make some rash decision. Whatever it is, we can work it out.” This may be a stall tactic.
  • “You know we have great plans for you here! But the company you’re going to work for? What can they do for you?” This is questioning your intelligence and an attack on your decision making process.

Note: Counteroffers can be tempting and a temporary ego boost. You also may detect an underlying tone that by not accepting the counteroffer, you’ll be throwing away your entire career.

Why do counteroffers NOT work?

You have made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on, your loyalty will always be in question. You are now considered to be a risk to your organization.

Trust and acceptance among your managers and colleagues may be irrevocably lost and you may never know.

  • Your manager will now be looking for your next replacement without your knowledge.
  • When the time comes for a promotion, your employer will remember who is loyal and who is not.
  • When the time comes around for cutbacks, your employer may consider you first.
  • The same circumstances that caused you to consider a change will undoubtedly repeat themselves in the future. Conditions are just made a bit more tolerable in the short term to buy your loyalty temporarily. 
  • It is statistically proven, that there is a high probability if you accept a counteroffer, you will leave in six months for the same reasons or be terminated within a year.
  • Where is your increase in compensation coming from? Most companies have compensation guidelines that must be followed. Is it your annual increase given to you early?
  • Counteroffers are usually nothing more than stall devices to give our employer time to replace