Job Seeking Advice

Should I stay or should I go now? Accepting a counter offer (or not!)

You’re caught in a conundrum. You told your boss you were leaving them for another job, they said “Don’t go!”... and they said it with extra benefits and perks such as flexible working, salary or a great work/life balance. Is accepting a counter offer ever a good idea?

With the war for talent hotting up, we’re seeing a whole lot of counter offers… and a whole lot of confused people wondering whether to accept them. If that’s you, here are some tips to help you handle this tricky decision.

What is a counter offer? (Feat. some shocking stats)

“A counter offer” usually means a better offer (like a pay raise or a promotion) made by your current employer to persuade you not to take a new job. But it can also mean a better offer made by a prospective employer if you reject their initial offer… which, by the way, is something most people are afraid to do. Some stats from CareerBuilder:

  • 56% of candidates don’t negotiate for higher pay when they get a job offer
  • 51% are uncomfortable asking for higher pay
  • 47% are worried that if they ask, employers won’t hire them (yikes!)

Is this a gender issue, I hear you ask? Why yes, it is. According to a Glassdoor survey, discussing counter offers is particularly hard for women. 68% of women prefer not to negotiate compensation, versus 52% of men.

But even if you do negotiate, will it bring you happiness? Probably not–according to research by Eclipse, accepting a counter offer from your current employer tends to be a temporary fix.

  • 9 out of 10 people who accept a counter offer leave anyway within 12 months
  • 8 out of 10 prefer to leave within 6 months
  • And 5 out of 10 take just two months

Show me the money!

In work as in love, “I’m leaving” is a phrase you should only use if you mean it. If you threaten to leave when you really just want a raise, you might find all you get is your bluff called. Many employers avoid making counter offers because they don’t want people storming out in hopes of being wooed back.

And speaking of money, make very sure you understand how your new job offer compares to your current compensation (especially if shares are involved) before you make any big moves. Don’t let anyone bamboozle you into accepting a “better” offer that’s actually a “worse but really confusing” offer.

Don’t miss out on meaning

Which role would be more meaningful to you–your current role or the new offer you’re thinking of accepting? That could make more difference to your job satisfaction than money. More than 9 out of 10 employees are willing to trade some of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work. Regardless of age and salary level, most people would rather have meaningful work than a highly-paid hamster wheel.

The pros of accepting a counter offer

  1. Zero upheaval - No new workplace, new culture, new colleagues, or new management. Comfort zone!
  2. Self-esteem boost - Your boss wanted you so much they paid to keep you! How awesome is that?
  3. No learning curve - You know that “learning the ropes”, “getting up to speed” stage… you don’t have to do that. You are up to speed. You know these ropes.
  4. More money - You know… the actual “counter offer” part of the counter offer. Even better, it’s probably more money for the same work.
  5. More motivation - That rush of gratitude might be better than coffee for your productivity–leading to increased job satisfaction and showing your boss what a great investment you are.
  6. Career growth - You’ve shown that you’re willing to leave if you’re not satisfied. They’ve decided you’re worth satisfying. That might lead to a promotion in your future, especially if the motivation thing is working out for you.

The cons of accepting a counter offer

1. Dissatisfaction

Only 12% of employees resign because of money. If you weren’t happy at work before, will that extra bit of money buy you happiness?

2. Distrust

Not to get all negative, but accepting a counter offer isn’t always good for your relationship with your boss. You rejected them! They’re bound to worry that you’ll try to leave again. Speaking of which…

3. You’ll probably end up leaving anyway

Did we mention that 9 out of 10 people who accept a counter offer leave within the year? So chances are you’ve passed up a job opportunity that you wanted for one you didn’t, and you’ll have to go round the houses again (as it were!)

4. Missed opportunities

There’s no reward without risk. Do you really want to stay in your comfort zone when a new opportunity could take your career and your job satisfaction to the next level?

In conclusion…

If you’re still not sure what to do, grab a pen and paper (or device of your choice) and make your own list of pros and cons. It may come down to want versus need: do you want to leave or do you just need more money? If it’s just about money, maybe it’s better to stay. If not, don’t become a statistic!

Changing jobs can be stressful, so make sure you talk through any counter offer with a recruiter you really trust, who’s honest with you and has your best interests at heart. A recruiter like…ooh, say… us!

We pride ourselves on helping our candidates make great decisions that will make them happy for years to come. We’ll help you think it through and give you honest, expert advice. If you’re thinking about switching careers, get in touch with us today–we’d love to talk!