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The counter offer: Should you accept it?

Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Andy Haywood our consultant managing the role
Posted: 29/10/2019

Making the decision to leave your current job can be tough, so when you’ve finally worked up the courage to hand in your resignation, receiving a counteroffer can throw you into doubt again.

Why do employers make counteroffers?

A counteroffer is a more appealing offer than the one you’ve already received. It’s a common response from an employer when a valued employee decides to resign and can be motivated by a number of reasons:

  1. It costs a lot to replace an employee or contractor (e.g. recruitment costs, loss of productivity from the team, loss of working hours when conducting interviews, training costs and advertising fees). It is often easier and more cost-effective to increase your salary.
  2. Uncertainty of being able to replace you. This is a particular issue in the life science industry, where senior roles are usually highly specialised and increasingly difficult to fill due to a growing skills gap.
  3. Your employer may have known you were worth more to the company for a long time, but felt they were able to maintain you within the business under the current conditions. Only after you’ve handed in your resignation does the company decide to act.
  4. One leaver can sometimes lead to more. Others in the team may realise what is available to them too, or your absence may significantly alter the team’s dynamic if you are a prominent figure within it.

Considering the offer

You need to ask yourself if your employer’s reasons for making a counteroffer reflect the kind of organisation you want to work for. The promise of more money or promotion can be both flattering and tempting, but you have to ask yourself why it hasn’t happened already. If it takes your resignation to spur them into action, you’re probably better off at a company with a fairer reward scheme.

It’s also important not to lose sight of your original reasons for leaving, and whether those reasons are likely to arise again in the future. Issues with the company’s culture, systems, or training and development opportunities are not going to change overnight; and if your employer promises change, you should question if they’re able to keep to their word.

What happens if I accept?

If you do decide to accept a counteroffer, be aware that you may need to live with the after-effects of your resignation for a while. Some employers will be understanding of your reasons for wanting to leave, but others may question your loyalty, which can lead to resentment and a lack of trust.

Overall, it’s important to keep your emotions in check when considering a counteroffer and to ensure that last-minute promises don’t distract you from your long term career goals. Many candidates who accept a counter soon find new or returning reasons to leave.

We estimate that 80% leave within six months, and around 93% within eighteen months. Accepting a counteroffer can therefore mean missing out on a good opportunity, only to go through the whole job search process again soon after.

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