Contemplating the Counter Offer – Tips for Employees


There comes a time in everyone’s working life when they feel the need to explore opportunities outside of their current employer.  Whatever the catalyst for deciding to interview with potential employers,  there is a likelihood at some point that a job offer will be the result; the ensuing resignation and dealing with what may come back from a current employer can be the source of great stress and confusion.

Employers have a number of factors to consider when dealing with the resignation of a current team member, highly valued or otherwise, but it’s often the need to apply a band aid solution to the problem that causes the departing employee to have a change of heart. The reality of being offered more money, enhanced benefits or a promotion is extremely flattering, especially when combined with a sense of guilt surrounding one’s imminent departure. To anyone who has experienced this situation, it can be an extremely emotional time but it’s important to retain composure and remain rational.

As a cautionary tale, spending time to assess your personal situation before embarking on a fresh interview process is well-advised. Consider your reasons for looking outside of your current employer for a new opportunity, are they serious or exploratory? The interview process often has the effect of getting out of your control very quickly and before you know it, you are heavily vested in a serious process that you may not be fully committed to. What are your motivations for leaving: are they financial? Do you feel your avenues for promotions are blocked off? Do you not get along with your boss? There are many good reasons for looking elsewhere for new employment, but consider them on merit and not on impulse before you commence the interview process elsewhere.

If you find yourself in the often enviable position of having received a fantastic new job offer and have decided to accept it, be clear about your departure and your reasons for leaving; otherwise, you could be in for a rough ride. Before resigning think carefully about what the reaction might be or if there is a high likelihood that you will receive a counteroffer, such as a precedent set by a former colleague or a spate of recent departures. Whatever the situation, forewarned is most certainly forearmed.

There are several commonly quoted statistics about candidates accepting a counteroffer, and they don’t work in favor of the employee. Figures quoted across the board suggest that as many as 60% of candidates who accept a counter offer are not in their role longer than 6 months. Some questions that you need to be considering when facing a counteroffer could include:

  • Are your employers committed to you long term or are these just delaying tactics to give them more time to replace you? 
  • Did the reasons for wanting to leave your current firm change since you went out searching for a new position or will more money simply solve the problem?
  • Why should you have to resign in order for your boss to realize your true worth and value to the firm?

Your current employer may of course be completely out of touch with current market levels of compensation, but either way you shouldn’t view a counteroffer simply as a vote of confidence.

Now that you have decided it was worth reaching the stage where a counteroffer is possible, there are a number of future uncertainties that need to be considered. If you have already accepted the new opportunity, will turning it down now damage your reputation externally?  Is this counter offer a temporary fix by your employer, will they consider you to be disloyal or will they manage your exit down the line on their own terms? Will your relationship with your current boss be irreparably damaged and impact on future promotions? Will your loyalty constantly be questioned? Understandably, it’s not likely that your boss or employer will forget that you looked externally, but it’s up to you to decide whether it has shown them your value to the company or whether it has created a bias that will be working against you.

In today’s world, things are never as they seem, but to be prepared for what lies ahead is a great starting point. Counteroffers are a roller coaster of emotion and confusion and accepting one may well come at a greater price.