Recruitment is a very interesting world to inhabit at the moment. In my 20 plus year event and recruitment career, I’ve pretty much seen and heard everything, but nothing has prepared me for the ridiculously over the top counter offers I’ve seen over the past six months.
A counter offer is when an employee hands in their notice and their employer gives then a counter offer to try to persuade them to stay.
Let me just make myself clear: if you receive a counter offer, think long and hard before accepting.
At the moment, more than ever, employers are really scared of losing talent and are now offering resigning employing everything (and more) to make them stay. Lavish promises are being made; I’ve heard “we’ll build the company around your needs” and “you’ll get a 50% pay increase” and even “we’ll give you shares in the business.” All of these counter offers translate to “we are now really sorry we treated you so poorly and we don’t want the drama that goes with replacing you.” But if this happens to you – just ask yourself “why didn’t my employer show me this love / money/ respect before?”
Pretty much every counter offer I have seen is a huge knee jerk reaction and usually not worth the paper it’s never written on and they will not keep an employee from moving on shortly. Trust me, I’ve been here before many, many times. There are even stats to back me up: any survey ever compiled quotes between 70-90% of employees who accept a counter offer have left their positions within 12 months
So, why won’t the amazing counter offers come true? Mainly because the employee never gets anything in writing, and the employers conveniently forget or delay actioning everything because deep down they didn’t think things through properly.
It’s not all about the money though; employees choose to leave because they don’t feel appreciated, or because they feel that they aren’t doing the work they really want to do. In cases like these, if an employer love bombs them following a resignation, it is human nature to feel all warm and fuzzy and appreciated. At this point your mates (and that little voice at the back of your mind) are all saying “well why on earth haven’t they given you all this love before?”
The current state of the economy and the worry about what 2023 will bring isn’t helping anyone. Everyone can be nervous of the unknown, so a counter offer can feel like a safe option for both parties, but it rarely works out for either and usually does more harm than good:
The employer has effectively bribed an employee to stay. They know their employee’s heart wasn’t in it, and that they felt disgruntled enough to put themselves through the rigmarole of finding another position. My advice to employers: if you have people that are mission critical, then make sure they know how valuable they are and they are happy with the salary and conditions you are currently providing. Consider what you would offer to make them stay and don’t let them get to the point of resigning.
The employee has made the decision they were unhappy where they are, that their head was looking elsewhere and their heart wasn’t in it. They may have already moved on mentally and become excited about their new role. To accept a counter offer is effectively a step back into their comfort zone – and we all know that isn’t where the magic happens. My advice to employees: if there is even a tiny chance you would accept a counter offer, then talk to your team / your employer. Tell them how you feel and why. Be open and honest about what you need in order to feel loved and appreciated. You may get exactly what you want, and even if you don’t then at least you have tried. They will not sack you for voicing your opinion and you have saved yourself, the recruiter and your potential future employer a lot of time and energy.
So, in a nutshell, counter offers are a bad idea for everyone involved. They simply enable an employer to kick the issue into the weeds. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate problem. It may solve the problem of today, but it is not a long-term strategy, because if an employer genuinely didn’t want that employee to leave then they should have acted before.
Employees need to also remember that if they accept a higher salary, they will be expected to do more for it. The employer will always regard them as the person who wanted to leave and they will look at them differently.
Saying all that, it is possible that they are one of the ten percent that does well after accepting a counter offer, so its not always a foregone conclusion but I won’t be holding my breath.
The employer/ employee relationship is just that; a relationship. How would you feel about a spouse or partner who came back after saying they wanted to leave to pursue something new and shiny? It just doesn’t bode well for any relationship, does it?