Does a Counter Offer Really Work?

Posted on October 2014 By Matthew Leak
Does A Counter Offer Really Work Speller International Blog2

​Having decided you’ve had enough of the role you are in, for usually a host of reasons, you’ve sought pastures new to find ‘the greener grass.’ The day comes to hand in your notice to your boss, with emotions running high, most likely to be a combination of both relief and nervousness; will they say congratulations and let me go with a nice farewell? Will I get to stay and work my notice period? Will they provide the reference I may require in the future? Or… will they ask me to stay and make me a counter offer?

In this day and age, counter offers are a common occurrence, and come in many forms and guises. And of course it’s usually very flattering to hear from your boss that they would like you to stay on. There are usually two forms of counter offers that you will encounter; financial or emotional.

Often, employers try and match or improve on the salary being offered from your proposed new employer. This is the tangible way of getting you to stay, and the thought of improved pay from your current employer can make you stop and think about the move – especially if this was the primary reason for leaving in the first place.

The emotional pull though can be more of a challenge to overcome, and often your boss will find a way of playing to your weaknesses and give you ‘all the love in the world’ especially if they know you well and how to make you feel special. This could be promises of new work responsibilities, and / or a promised promotion, nicer working environment or whatever the reason(s) you gave as to why you want to move on in the first place.

If the counter offer is a financial improvement for you, there is a chance they actually thought about what you said and realised they were ‘underpaying’ you for the role have been performing. Most likely however, they realised that having to find a replacement will cost them more money than offering you a little more to stay on; saving time and effort for the business. A general consensus in professional work is that you as an employee should be recognised and reimbursed with a salary that reflects your experience, ability, skills and value to a business; so if you feel you are worth more and the business has not previously recognised this, they probably don’t really feel you are worth more money.

Loyalty to a business is often paramount. If you’ve handed in your notice and subsequent intent to leave, you’ve made your current employer fully aware you are not 100% committed to working there anyway; otherwise you wouldn’t have been looking in the first place. They may well come back and offer you all kinds of promises or promotions, but why didn’t this occur sooner? Now that they know you want to leave, they are highly unlikely to actually give you more responsibilities within the company, as you will have more influence and any ‘negativity’ will be felt by more fellow employees – the classic “bad apple”.

It is very rare that a counter offer is successful in the long run, and usually a company will have found a reason and way to terminate your employment with them within 12 months, or indeed the original reasons you were looking for a new role in the first place will still exist once you realise they were never going to change. The general consensus is, once you made the step to seek a new role, be strong when handing in your notice and move on to the new challenge.