Counter Offers – The Flattery and the Betrayal

Posted on May 2017 By Mary Vidovich
Counter Offer

If you’ve been offered a new position and your current employer makes you a counter offer, should you accept?

Let’s face it, these days it’s extremely rare for someone to stay with the same employer for an entire career. We all need new challenges and a fresh environment from time to time. We all want the occasional pay rise. And we all need to feel valued and appreciated to enjoy working.

Panic Stations

Good employees are hard to find – and they can also be hard to keep, precisely because they are so good. So when a good employee announces his intention to leave, often the employer will come up with a counter offer to entice him to stay.

A counter offer is often a knee-jerk reaction. Fear sets in: how will they fill the void? Will they find a suitable replacement – and if so how long might that take? Who will pick up the slack to manage the current workload? And will they find someone as easy going?


The boss knows his counter offer needs to be impressive if he hopes to convince his employee to stay. It will therefore include any or all of the following:

  • A salary increase

  • A promotion

  • Perks (a parking space, for example)

  • More flexible working hours

  • A change of duties

No doubt these will be tempting… that’s the point! It should give the employee something to think about.


Employers have plenty to think about, too. They seem to forget that by the time their favourite employee tells them he’s leaving, he’s already secured a new position at another company. And, unless he was directly headhunted with an offer too good to refuse, there was a very good reason why he went through the process of finding a new job. But invariably they will remember!

If the employee accepts the counter offer, at some point in the future his boss will start to question the decision…

  • Is he just going to leave anyway at some point down the track?

  • Was it all about money? And if not, is he still unhappy?

  • Do I have to give him another pay rise when his salary is up for review?

  • Did he accept because he’s just lazy and not up to the challenge of starting again somewhere else?

  • Why didn’t he talk to me first? Can I ever trust him again?

  • Was there really another job offer?

A Telling Statistic

Recruiters make a good point in response to candidates who say they’re considering a counter offer:

“Did you know that people who accept a counter offer have a high probability of either voluntarily leaving their role within 6 months or being ‘let go’?”

That phrase is true and it should tell you that a counter offer is not what it’s cracked up to be.

If you find yourself tempted by a counter offer, just remember why you wanted to leave in the first place. Chances are those problems will still be there and there’s an even better chance your boss will never think of you the same way again!