Counter offers. It’s never just about the money.

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Counter Offers: What to Consider Before Accepting.

By Tammy Stone, The Psychology of Business

Are you on the verge of ditching your current employer? If they presented you with a competitive counter offer, would you stay? Here is something to consider. Research show “89% of individuals who accept counter offers are gone within six months”. That’s a huge statistic to leave so soon after the counter offer. The same study further calculated that, “93% … leave either voluntarily or involuntarily” within eighteen months of the counter offer (Career Profiles). Theoretically, a counter offer has everything you’re leaving for, and possibly more. If a company presents an employee with the counter of their dreams, then why does the employee still leave so soon afterwards? It’s crucial to understand why you’re unhappy at your current job. There are multiple reasons people think they are leaving, but it usually is not why they’re unhappy. Consider the following factors when assessing if a counter offer is right for you:



A matching offer or salary increase from your employer can be enticing, but the old saying is true, “money can’t buy happiness”. I won’t dispute the fact that money makes life easier, but consider the reality of what your raise equates to, and if it’s making you look for another career opportunity. Glassdoor’s DNA of a Best Place to Work results show compensation only increases employee satisfaction by 1%.

Would raising your weekly paycheck by $100 make you more happy in your career? In 2015, the national standard of living increase was 1.7% and the projection for 2016 salary increases is 3%. Let’s assume you are a stellar employee making $50,000 a year, and your employer counters your two week notice with a 10% salary increase (three times the 2016 raise average). Would you accept? As tempting as it may sound, consider that in this case, 10% would give you $190 more (before taxes) per paycheck, and after taxes just over $100 more. Knowing these statistics, do you think this raise would make you happier at work? Be conscious of what is motivating you to leave your current job. Is it money or is it career advancement?


Career Development.

In 2010, the economy took a nosedive and we were just happy to have a job. Six years later, things have improved and there are more career opportunities available. Employees want more than just a job. They want the promise that there is room for career growth. A Glassdoor survey showed that “46% of Millennials left their last job due to lack of career growth” (Top HR statistics). This means half of the millennial workforce is leaving due to a lack of career growth opportunities. What does career growth mean to you? Does it mean a new title, more money, more company insight, career training or management experience? Let’s break a few of these down.


  • A New Title: This will boost our egos for a while, but what do we really gain from a title change? If you’re just looking to update your resume or linkedin profile, then great! If you are leaving for a ‘better’ career opportunity, then does your counter offer of a new title accomplish that? Does your title change come with more responsibilities, a certification, or job description changes? Think about how the title change impacts in your career. Determine the type of growth you’re looking for, and what exactly the counter offer means for your career development.
  • Management Experience: Going from having no direct reports to now having employees to manage gives you to have a higher level of experience. Managing employees will change the way you prioritize tasks, communicate, and it will give you a whole new vantage point of business. If this is part of your company’s counter offer, then it’s something to contemplate. Becoming a manager completely changes your job functions. Having people report to you is a very polarizing experience, and it will give you a better understanding of what you’re looking for in a career.
  • Company Exposure: Would you be more loyal to your company if they trusted you with confidential information? Consider how necessary it is for you to know what’s going on in the company before most of your coworkers. This information could range from personnel changes, business strategy and other pieces of sensitive information. Company insight equals more responsibility and trust, but it comes at a cost. If full transparency is one of your values, then more company exposure means you have information that is not yours to reveal, and you don’t have full control over if/when you can share it. There is value in knowledge, and if you’re ready for the responsibility, add this to your demands when the counter offer comes in.


Respect / Too Little, Too Late.

This is the most unrepresented reason for why people leave their current employer. The counter offers comes after resumes have been updated, interviews have been scheduled, and you are ready to move on. Why did it take you getting another opportunity for your current company to recognize your worth? According to a OfficeVibe,

“39 percent of employees report they don’t feel appreciated at work”.

Feeling like you deserve more is a strong component to consider when a counter offer is presented. Are you able to accept their offer, come back to work and thrive at the same company? If you aren’t able to answer that question, then you probably shouldn’t accept the counter offer. Nothing kills innovation like resentment. Don’t accept a counter offer if you aren’t able to move on after once feeling undervalued at your job.

Final Thoughts

Counter offers can be great. Maybe you’re generally happy at work and a few minor changes are exactly what you want. Before even looking for another job, you should clearly understand why you’re looking for another job. Once you realize what you’re leaving for, consider if it’s worth asking your employer before applying elsewhere. If they say no, then it makes your decision easy. Give your employer the opportunity to offer you what their counter offer already would. Day to day business life is hectic. There is always the possibility that your employer doesn’t know you’re looking for more.


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