Professionals and managers who receive a counter-offer should treat it as a compliment – it shows that the company values them and does not want to part ways with experienced experts. However, Antal's observations suggest that accepting a counter-offer may be risky. You should be aware of the motives behind it.
Counter-offers are not for everyone
Counter-offers, i.e. offers put forward by the current employer that include better conditions that those offered by the competition, are received by professionals and managers who have competencies and qualifications that are crucial for the organization. They are usually the sole person in the company that is able to fill their role, therefore finding a quick replacement is impossible. We have observed that this group includes mostly engineers, finance specialists and salespeople whose good relationships with clients are something that the company would prefer not to lose.
What lies behind a counter-offer?
Employers are often surprised when they receive a resignation letter from a valued employee. They do what they can to retain them. Employers are aware that recruiting and training a successor will cost a lot of time and money. Therefore, the easiest and cheapest way to avoid such a predicament is to present a counter-offer. In the long-term, this may put you in a precarious position. Your superior knows that you want to quit so he or she may start looking for a new candidate to take your place.
However, being offered a higher salary and more responsibilities often makes employees think that they are being rewarded for their achievements. That is very tempting indeed. You may even forget about the reasons that made you consider leaving in the first place. According to the observations of Antal's consultants, the biggest motivators for job change include the need to undertake new professional challenges and to gain experience in a different work environment / industry. Candidates often emphasize that they would like to have a less stressful, friendlier atmosphere at work. Even the most tempting counter-offer cannot guarantee that. Never deceive yourself. The organizational culture of the company will not change and your commute will not suddenly become shorter.
The dangers of accepting a counter-offer
Accepting a counter-offer will have an impact on the atmosphere in the company. It is hard to keep such things secret for long and gossip will spread like wildfire. Employees will start thinking that it is easier to use threats to get a promotion. Being a motivated and loyal worker is seen as pointless, and so the workforce becomes less engaged and feels disassociated with the company. Plus, the feeling that a colleague wanted to quit their job often has negative impact on the quality of teamwork. The rest of the team will think that he or she will not be as committed as they used to be.
If the employer presents you with a counter-offer, even a very tempting counter-offer, you must remember that it is because you forced them to do so. A raise or promotion earned in such circumstances will have a bitter taste. What is more, the doubt that you will feel afterwards will undermine your satisfaction in the long term.
When is it ok to accept a counter-offer
Counter-offers sometimes are a token of genuine appreciation for an employee and send the message that the employer does want to work with them in the future. However, that happens very rarely, usually when the employee and employer have a very good relationship. If, for example, an attractive and game-changing promotion has long been planned and was supposed to be announced to the employee within a couple of days, it is obvious that he or she will accept the counter-offer.