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Things to Consider When You’re Considering a Counteroffer

Why do companies make counteroffers?

If your role is critical to your company, then your company will do anything it can to convince you to stay. Why? Because your departure is going to cause them pain. You leaving is going to disrupt business – productivity will drop, other team members will have to take on your work (at least temporarily, which may cause them to leave), and there will be recruitment costs associated with finding your replacement. All painful things!

As you can see, counteroffers are very much in a company’s best interests. But, are they also in YOUR best interests? According to research by LiveCareer, about 57 percent of all employees who accept counteroffers change companies within the following 24 months, which raises questions about the long-term value of accepting a counteroffer.

Things to consider (that you have likely heard before)

If you send a signal to your boss that you’re unhappy – and they personalize your desire to leave – then sticking with your employer rarely makes sense, no matter what you’re offered to stay. Your motives will be suspect from that point on, and your boss may wonder whether you are still fielding calls from recruiters.

A more calculating and opportunistic employer will use a counteroffer to give them time to find your replacement. Something that feels personal (and counteroffers are ALWAYS designed to flatter and spur emotions that cause you to question your decision to leave) can, in a short period of time, turn into, “Well, it’s just business,” when your boss informs you that you are being let go.

This counteroffer is really enticing. But have you considered this?

It’s true. People accept counteroffers every day and, despite everything noted above, you may still believe taking a counteroffer IS in your best interests. That said, consider this: is your employer willing to put the things listed below in writing? If that answer is no, it should give you pause if you are thinking of sticking around with the idea things might get better.

  1. The specifics of your new salary, title, and/or any new benefits offered (e.g., retention bonus or stock).
  2. A commitment to remedy any issues you may have raised (e.g., reducing some of your workload or removing you from that challenging client account).
  3. A clear timeline on when all of the changes above will be implemented.
  4. A guarantee that your position cannot be eliminated for a specific period of time (e.g., if/when the company finds a less expensive replacement for you).
  5. A promise that your threatened resignation will not be used against you at any time in the future, and you are still an employee in good standing.

Yes, occasionally, a counteroffer does serve the needs of all involved. However, for all the above reasons, counteroffers should come with the label, “Buyer Beware”.

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