So you’ve been through the palaver of job hunting, you’ve nailed a great role and you’ve successfully handed in your letter of resignation. Your boss definitely wasn’t happy about it (mind you, how would you feel if he was?) but he seemed to accept it ok. Since then, you’ve been rubbing your colleagues’ noses in it and planning the biggest leaving bash the company has ever seen. Then what?
Dazed and confused
A counter-offer is an offer from your current employer to rival the one you have received from your future employer, to convince you to stay. Counter-offers can take many forms. A straight increase in salary – usually to meet or beat your new offer – additional company benefits, a sought-after promotion or new job title, additional responsibility, a change in role, more involvement in sexy projects. Or any combination of the above.
Counter-offers can be confusing. Leaving a job, especially if you have been there for some time, is difficult. Being put under pressure to stay, and having your reasons for leaving challenged, undermined and even blown out of the water, certainly doesn’t make it a piece of cake. Even though you worked hard to get the new role and have been really looking forward to it, you find yourself thinking: maybe I do owe something to my current employer. Maybe I do lack loyalty and maybe the company will suffer unfairly if I leave?
Counter-offers are more common than you think. Statistics on how many times it happens are hard to find. However, while researching the counter-offer issue, one fact just keeps on popping up. Most people who accept a counter-offer have subsequently left their job anyway within twelve months. In fact, a great many are gone within three to six months.
Reasons to keep you
Look at the logic behind the counter-offer. Of course, what we’d like to do is accept it as flattery, a sign of our unrivalled importance and value to our employer, a definite signal that they’ll stretch to serious lengths to keep us.
What you should be thinking, though, is that besides boosting your ego so much your head looks like a beachball, your employer may have other reasons for counter-offering you. These may include:
- Replacing an employee can be expensive
- It might mess up their budget to re-recruit that time of year
- They haven’t got time to re-recruit right now
- They want to have you cover while they hunt for your replacement
- They want you to finish the project you are working on
- They don’t have the time to train someone new at the moment
- Losing staff might reflect badly on your boss
Should I stay or should I go?
There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter-offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you’ve been through the recruitment process, you’ve been successful and you have scored a job that meets your criteria. Think about these factors:
- From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will always be in question
- This lack of loyalty is likely to be an obstacle to future promotions
- Your colleagues will look at you differently – after all, you don’t really want to be there do you?
- Your boss will probably start casting around for your replacement immediately – whether you stay or not
- Why are they offering you what you deserve now, rather than before your resignation?
- Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?
- How guilty do you really feel? After all, shouldn’t you be putting yourself first? Would the company think twice about getting shot of you if the chips were down?
Don’t let an unexpected counter-offer stop you in your tracks. Take it in your stride, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave. Stand your ground.
But say you decide to stay. Be on your toes. Don’t be naive. Just because you’ve accepted your counter offer doesn’t mean your resignation has been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer’s trust. You’ll probably find you have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your company loyalty and worthiness as a long-term prospect. Your new post-resignation life with your old company is not going to be easy. And accepting a counter offer is definitely not the safe option. Watch your back!
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