Counteroffers are a common retention method especially when talent is in high demand. From an employer’s perspective, it can make sense to offer you another $15,000 to stay rather than upwards of $30,000 to recruit, hire and train someone to replace you. As flattering as it may be, accepting a counteroffer typically causes long-term career ramifications that are far more negative than positive.
It is naturally easier to stay within your comfort zone (familiar job, people, location) than to take a chance on what is most likely a much better opportunity. Changing jobs is considered one of life’s most stressful events, and anxieties about having to prove yourself in a new situation can blur your judgment. Don't be motivated by the fear of change.
There are always some risks in accepting a new job, but there are also serious risks with accepting a counteroffer.
Keep in mind that a counteroffer isn’t usually about what is best for you; it’s about what is best for your manager and the company in the short-term. Even though you may truly be considered an asset, the reality is that employers don’t like to lose good people unexpectedly. Your manager may worry that your departure will be considered a negative reflection and how your replacement will affect the rest of the team.
Counteroffers predictably take the form of:
- More money
- More responsibility
- Promises of better work/life balance
It’s important to take a step back to ask yourself why you are suddenly so valuable at the time of resignation when you were not given these same considerations in the past, including at your most recent review? Also, is the additional money being given early at the expense of a future merit raise or bonus?
Keep in mind that you’ve now shown your hand about being dissatisfied with certain aspects of your current job or company. This is likely to affect future promotions. When times get tough, you may be one of the first laid off since your loyalty to the company may be in question.
For these reasons, statistics from the National Employment Association confirm the fact that over 80% of people who elected to accept a counteroffer and stayed are no longer with their company six months later.
Carefully weigh a counteroffer with the reasons you were originally motivated to leave your employer and whether those will continue to exist. It can be challenging to return with the same passion once you’ve discovered that your talents may be appreciated elsewhere.
The best solution is to turn in your resignation and move forward to the promising future of your new opportunity. Being prepared to cut off any counteroffer conversations before they really start is a good way to avoid the discomfort of having to turn down your former employer twice and deal with the emotional stress. If your manager starts in with the typical counter offer response to your resignation, you should respectfully reply by saying “I appreciate your interest in keeping me, but I have thought through this thoroughly and I am not interested in a counter offer. My decision is final and I appreciate you respecting that.” Chances are very high that you’ll be thankful you didn’t look back!