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Counter Offers

Receiving a counter offer is like being asked to be a bridesmaid… flattering at first, but ultimately a pain in the ass.  Here’s the good news, you can decline a counter offer:


It’s not you, it’s me…

While counter offers feel flattering and a boost to the ego is nice, the reality is that they are very rarely about the recipient and nearly always about the presenter.

FACT:   It can cost over 200% of the annual salary to replace an executive level employee.  Employers will avoid this cost however they can!  Counter offers are the knee-jerk response to terrible, costly news.

FACT:  Turnover reflects poorly on your manager, 75% of people who voluntarily leave their jobs cite their manager as the reason they are resigning.  As hard as it is to hear that you’re resigning, the conversation your manager has to have with their boss is certainly more daunting for them.  Much easier to bring forth a success story of how you were inspired to stay.


You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling…

Make no mistake, the relationship between employee and manager is just that – a relationship.  Once you’ve tipped your hand that you’ve been unfaithful  (that “dentist appointment” that was really a job interview or, that “bug” you picked up last week causing you to miss work), you have an uphill battle to restore that trust you broke with your work relationship.

FACT: 50% of employees that accept a counteroffer, regardless of the reason, are actively looking again within 2 months.  If you decide to accept a counteroffer, you will likely get everything you ask for – at a cost.  Re-evaluate your reasons, and weigh out the cost:

  • Money: Great! You either just got your raise/bump early and will be sorely disappointed throwing up a goose egg come review time OR you just silently agreed to work a lot more OT or take on another project.
  • Overtime: If you’re working overtime, so are your peers. Have fun saying goodnight to your team at 5 pm when you know they’re working until 7 pm!
  • Flexibility: If your employer valued flexibility, you wouldn’t have had to resign over it. Sure, now you can leave 20 minutes early to make the daycare cut off, but the feeling you get when you see your boss is checking their watch isn’t going anywhere.

FACT:  Over 60% of employees who accepted a counteroffer felt their work relationships were irrevocably damaged.  If you threaten to quit and then decide to stay, it’s likely for money.  Your peers know this, or at the very least suspect this.  0% of people like making less than you.


Like sand through the hourglass…

One way (you quit) or another (you’re pushed out) but your departure is inevitable.  You’ve now bought your management the time they need to find your

replacement, and the pressure is off because you’re still there to do the work!

FACT:   Over 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer leave voluntarily or involuntarily within 6 months.   People often feel this statistic is speaking solely about the same issues that cause your discomfort initially creeping back up, but this also (and often) refers to those employees who accept a counter offer and get laid off, or terminated by scorned employers.

FACT:  Nearly 90% of candidates who accept a counter offer leave voluntarily or involuntarily within 18 months.  10% is a significant gamble to take on being the exception.



You probably think this counter offer’s about you, don’t you?

You hear a lot about counter offers because they are unfortunately the norm.  You may even get a speech about how the department/team/widget factory can’t run without you,  or how you are irreplaceable or something similar with a guilt trip threaded in, but know the facts, this is a common (albeit ugly) practice.

FACT:   There is a 50/50 chance that you will be given a counter offer if you resign, regardless of the level of your position.  Prepare properly for the conversation:

  • Have your resignation in writing to avoid the appearance that this is a negotiation.
  • Speak only positively about the position you’re leaving as well as the one you are going to.
  • To ease the shock, remind them that you are giving sufficient notice and plan to make the transition as smooth as possible.

FACT:  Over 60% of hiring managers make counter offers.  Don’t be swayed by the flattery of a counter offer.  Recognize that you’ve caught your employer off guard and assure them that you will be diligent in your current role throughout your notice period.

Ashley Hempel Photography

At the end of the day, you need to have faith in yourself.  You decided to look for a new position, you felt confident with the new offer, and you signed on the dotted line.  This is the last step in the process, and all too often, the least prepared for.  Stand your ground, and move onto your next chapter.

As for agreeing to be a bridesmaid…. you’re on your own.

A Blog by our Lily Brooks

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