The Counter Offer

3-5 mins

These days, the counter-offer or ‘buy-back’ as it’s often referred to, is a factual and all too common occurrence. It will most likely happen shortly after you’ve handed in your notice, you just need to know what to expect and how to handle the situation, should it arrive. 

It could come tied to a variety of incentives or perceived negative connotations, such as:

  • More money (this being the most common approach)

  • A promotion, offering more responsibility or a modified reporting structure

  • Greater flexibility (such as work from home options)

  • Shares/equity in the business

  • A “confidential” pitch on the “exciting new developments happening this year”

  • Promises of future considerations for promotions or reward schemes

  • Disparaging remarks towards your new employer or role

  • Guilt-tripping dialogue in reference to “abandoning” your colleagues and friends

Remember your training, so to speak, and keep in mind the reasons that lead you to the definitive decision in the first place. Your goal is most likely personal and professional progression and the best thing is that, at this point, the hard work is done. You have already secured a fantastic and hopefully exciting new role and so you owe it to both yourself and your prospective employer to see it out and go ahead with your decision.

Consider the following before committing to a back-and-forth negotiation regarding your future and your happiness: 

Moving on was the only way to get a significant increase in pay

Notice how you become more valuable once you’ve handed in your resignation letter? It's worth considering why you weren't offered a justified increase in pay before now. There may be legitimate business reasons, however, those reasons are still holding you back. It’s conveniently easier and cheaper for your current employer to put forward some small incentives to keep you on board.

Things won’t change

The phrase “a leopard never changes its spots” comes to mind when dealing with the workplace. All of those frustrations, stifling feelings and ongoing dissatisfactions will still be there, even with a new job title and a few extra quid in your bank account. It’s a harsh reality but one that must be kept at the forefront of your mind and taken into account when making definitive decisions about your life and future. 

Where has this new position suddenly come from?

Don’t be too glamoured by the prospect of new titles and tweaked responsibilities. Unless you are being offered a promotion to an existing position, then you should question how they came up with such a job description so quickly. Chances are if these prospects didn’t exist before your revelation of parting ways with the company, they still don’t. There’s always a risk element involved when taking on a newly created role, but that risk could be somewhat increased under such circumstances.  
How safe is your job?
By all means and rights, your decision to resign and chase career development should never impact the way an employer behaves towards you, should you decide to accept the counter offer. The fact is, people, more often make emotion-based decisions rather than calculated ones and if an individual feels personally offended at your previous flirtation attempts with another business, they may have your name on the tip of their tongue when redundancies are lingering in the air.

You’ve already accepted an offer

By virtue of hiring you, your prospective new employer has already demonstrated a strong belief in you and your capabilities to be of great value to their team, and you haven’t even had your first day yet. Additionally, it would be less than great practice to be leading an organisation on by accepting an offer, encouraging them to end their search, allowing them to put procedures in motion (contract write-up, payroll, pension plans, bonus schemes etc) only to then let them down at the last minute. It would be a reflection of your character and in 9 months time, when 4 out of 5 people who have accepted a counter offer, leave their jobs anyway, you could be left with one less solid employment option (if you find yourself in the same position).

So, don’t be too flattered to the point of staying put and putting your aspirations on hold. Remember what made you want to better yourself and improve your circumstances in the first place. Always give serious thought and consideration to moving jobs before you begin the process - you’ll thank yourself for being decisive from the start.

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