Counteroffers: To Accept or To Decline?

We’ve all been in the position where we feel we need to leave our current job for a new position. It might be for better growth opportunity, better work/life balance, or simply, better pay. You may do everything by the book; job searching and interviewing for positions on your own time. You might even schedule a meeting with your boss to formally submit your two weeks’ notice after you have accepted the position to the new company. This is probably the most appropriate and seamless way of getting a job while still employed. (See How to Search for a New Job While Employed)

However, when your current employer throws a curveball into your plan by presenting a counteroffer, this may complicate your situation.

What is a Counteroffer?

A counteroffer is simple. Your current employer finds out you’re leaving their company for a new position for a specific reason and they offer you more. For example, if you’re leaving for a new job that offers you more pay and is closer to home, your current employer might try to negotiate by offering a higher raise and the flexibility to leave work early. While this is just an example, a counteroffer can take many forms, such a raise/promotion, modification in reporting structure, change in policy, a promise or future consideration, or even a guilt trip with a lot of flattery. Counteroffer gestures can blindside you and are intended to cause buyer’s remorse, so it’s crucial that you consider your options and better understand why they are presenting another offer.

Why is it Offered?

Typically, a counteroffer is offered because of a few reasons:

  1. Unique Importance: You have a very important role in the company and it’s very difficult to find someone like you. Your employer may even say something like this as a form of flattery when they give you a counteroffer.
  2. Costly Hiring: Hiring a new employee can be very costly, so your employer might think that satisfying you enough for you to stay will save the company money in the long run rather than hiring and training someone new.
  3. Negative Outlook: Supervisors are judged on how they can lead and retain employees. If you leave, you’re basically “firing” your employer and no one likes to be “fired.”
  4. Rippling Effects: When an employee leaves, it can cause problems in the workplace. It can jeopardize important projects that you were a part of, increase other employee’s workloads, or even foil a vacation schedule.

These are all very valid thoughts that your boss may have when you present your resignation letter. They may even give you a counteroffer to keep you at a higher rate and possibly fire you on their own time frame.

Should You Accept or Decline the Offer?

Keep in mind the we explain the employer’s reasoning behind the counteroffer to help you better understand why they want to convince you to stay. This should not sway your decision either way. The decision is completely up to you. We recommend you weigh your options and list out the pros and cons to accepting the offer. Here are some potential pros and cons:

Pros for Accepting the Counteroffer

  • Receive a better offer from your current employer
  • Won’t have to move to a new company and start over
  • Current employer can change and demonstrate their appreciation of you

Cons for Accepting the Counteroffer

  • Employer may not change and you could end up looking for a new job again
  • You lost the employer’s trust, so your loyalty to the company will forever be questioned
  • Any growth opportunity is gone because the employer questions your loyalty
  • As word spreads, coworkers may begin to question your loyalty to them
  • They may be buying time to find a replacement and fire you later

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