The case for accepting an employer’s counter-offer

Should an employee accept a counter-offer post resignation?

If you google “should I accept a counter-offer from my employer?”, your query will generate thousands of results telling you not to do it.

There are, however, instances where it actually makes sense to accept a counter-offer from your current employer.

First, what is a counter-offer?

You assess your job situation and for various reasons decide it’s time to move on. You tender your resignation. Your employer asks you if there is anything they can do to retain you. Then, they make a counter-offer to attempt to do just that.

Why do employers make counter-offers? It usually all comes down to money. Hiring and training a replacement is both expensive and time-consuming. You may also be a top performer, or your position is crucial to the business.

A lot is being said and written about the “evilness” of counter-offers. Your employer didn’t value you in the first place; the company is buying time; your boss will no longer trust you; they will fire you at the first opportunity; etc…etc. It may well be all true, just like it may not be.

One of the biggest myth around is that accepting a counter-offer will “destroy your career and reputation”. I’ve never heard of anyone whose career or reputation was “destroyed” because they decided to stay with their current employer. Let me know if you have….

And yes, you’ll burn bridges with your prospective new employer, but again there are plenty of jobs out there.

A counter-offer can be a useful tool for both the employer and the employee. It gives an employer the opportunity to elicit feedback and improve. True, this shouldn’t be done when an employee resigns, however most companies don’t ask for internal feedback these days. It is a questionable practice, but it’s the reality.

It also gives the employee the opportunity to air concerns and yes, negotiating power. After all, you have a better offer. There is no harm in negotiating further with your current employer.

When you should accept it

There are instances when it actually makes sense to accept a counter-offer.

  • All you want is more money, and your employer gives you a raise. I’d suggest asking your employer first before deciding to move on. As a mentioned above, most employers don’t value their employees correctly. Sometimes, resigning gives them a nudge in the right direction.
  • The counter-offer actually addresses your problems. Whether you’re looking for a more flexible schedule or a different role, if your employer grants your wishes, there is no harm in taking it.
  • You really like working at your company. There are inherent risks to changing jobs too. There are no guarantees it will work out in your new position. More so if you’re making a lateral move for monetary reasons. Not to mention you’ll have to prove yourself all over again.

When to decline it

Although my post is about accepting a counter-offer, I’ll make a quick side note on when not to.

If you don’t like your manager or your co-workers or the company culture; if you’re bullied or harassed; if the company is experiencing financial difficulties/turmoil.

More money or a promotion won’t fix or change these issues. Run instead!

After accepting the counter-offer

If you decide to accept your employer’s counter offer, get all the details in writing. It’s very likely it will result in a new employment agreement. Be wary if your employer doesn’t want to put anything in writing.

Closely read and check every single detail. Ensure it matches what you were told. Clarify any discrepancy and concerns.

Final word

You’ll probably want to take all the advice about not taking counter-offers with a grain of salt. There are no studies backing-up the statistics.

Before making a decision, be very clear on the reasons why you resigned in the first place. It will help you decide if accepting a job counter-offer makes sense for you.

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