What is a counter offer and are they good or bad?

When employees tender their resignation, their current employer will sometimes make a counter offer to persuade them to stay. Many employees accept these enticements. However, I’ve read that 80% of people who accept counter offers will leave their employment within 6 months and 93% of employees that accept counter offers will leave within 18 months! 

As a recruiter of many years, and who has worked for blue chip recruitment businesses as well as independent, boutique employment companies throughout the UK, there is one consistent message, “Counter offers are bad”!

Having looked into this recently, I am unsure as to where the statistics have originally come from.  Who has compiled a survey of employees who have accepted or rejected counter offers?  The recruitment industry isn’t mandatorily regulated by a governing body and the information that is collated about issues of this nature is done so by employment companies or those closely affiliated with them. So I remain a little wary of such numbers.

Anecdotally though from a personal prospective, I did accept a counter offer from a former employer.  And unfortunately I did follow the statistic, and ended up re-resigning several months later. Is the implication that, whilst the statistics are not altogether accurate, they do show a pattern of behaviour?

Personally, I believe that the motivations for me looking for a new job were hazed by the ease of staying with my employer.  Looking at the simple facts; I was well remunerated,  I was one of the top performers of the company, I had good work security due to my length of service, I liked the people I worked with and for.  Looking at these factors, anyone of them would have been good enough to sell me the concept of accepting a counter offer. 

Looking at things from a different prospective, why was I willing to forgo all the reasons for staying?  I had been with my employer for a number of years.  I was arguably in the most senior post that I could be in.  I wanted to move from an SME into a large corporate firm so that I could enhance my career.  It’s not surprising then, that within 6 months of me resigning, I was back looking again.

What I am trying to point out is that whilst the statistics can evidence anything you want them to, you have to look at why people are looking to resign.  As an employer, I have always made it clear to my employees that I will not be offering counter offers at the point of resignation.  What I do offer, however, is an open culture where if there is an issue it can be discussed so that the effort and energy does not need to be wasted on going through multiple processes to result in staying put.

Whilst I personally would not promote the idea of accepting a counter offer, I would disagree that they are all bad.  My the advice from Able Bridge Recruitment is to look at your motivations before you enter the market place and think about why you are looking for a move.  If the company cannot change things, in my instance the size of the organisation/seniority of job, then a counter offer is futile.  However if you are seeking a pay rise or additional work, enter into an honest and open conversation as this will earn you huge respect and save a large amount of wasted energy.

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Joe Savidge
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