You’ve been through a lengthy recruitment process, accepted an offer from a new employer and given your notice at your current job. Just as you think you’ve been through the trickiest stages of finding your next position, your current employer extends an enticing counteroffer in the hope that you reconsider your resignation. Do you stay or do you go?
It’s important to consider why your employer might make a counteroffer in the first place. When the offer is coming from someone who has first-hand experience working with you, it can feel flattering and encouraging, and it's a good indicator that you are a valuable asset.
But it’s also cheaper and more convenient for your current employer if you decide to remain in the business. A report from the Centre for American Progress found that when replacing an employee in a mid-range or managerial position, it costs the business around 20% of their annual salary in resources spent screening, interviewing, onboarding and training to the same standard or productivity level of their predecessor. They found for highly skilled or senior leadership positions this can go up to as much as 213%.
Receiving a counteroffer can throw a spanner in the works of what can be an already difficult situation. Although it can feel encouraging to be presented with the promise of more money, better benefits, or an on-the-spot promotion, it’s tough to know where to start when deciding how to respond. Here’s what you should consider before making your decision.
What were my main motivators to leave?
Consider what led you to pastures new and contributed toward your decision to hand in your notice in the first place. If the offer you receive from your current employer doesn’t contribute toward fixing any of those issues, you could find yourself actively looking again once the allure of an increased salary has worn off.
If a major reason for leaving was a lack of progression, you need to be sure that your employer can illustrate how that’s going to change should you choose to stay. Seeking new opportunities is seldom driven by money alone, so if that’s the only counter your employer presents you, it’s important to question how long it will be until the original issues you had in the role return.
How might this impact my future career prospects?
You may have handed in your notice and have another job lined up, so it’s key to consider what you could be turning down in terms of progression opportunities, career accolades or general job satisfaction.
When an offer from your current employer is on the table it’s easy to overlook what is lined up for you elsewhere, so consider what has been discussed in your interview stages, on the new job specification or in your new offer of employment and weigh up the long-term benefits carefully.
What will the effect on my work relationships be?
Take into account the knock-on effect your decision will have on the parties you’re involved in this process with. Do you risk burning bridges at the new organisation if you choose to remain in your current role? Will the relationship with your line manager or company leadership team be negatively impacted as a result of your decision to leave?
Depending on the relationship you have with your current employer, they could have felt shocked, panicked or let down by your decision to leave. Of course, not all employers will feel negatively, but consider how they reacted to other team members leaving and what your existing relationship is like when making your decision.
What’s going to make me happy?
This is the most important factor. Consider what the next 12 months might look like if you choose to accept the counteroffer, and then again if you choose to decline. Be objective in the possibilities for both and, if you’re unsure, talk it through with your current employer and potential new employer, or with your recruitment consultant if you’re working with one. Both parties should be able to give you a general picture if you haven’t already discussed it.
Ultimately, it’s important to consider your personal and professional goals and which path aligns most with them. Be open and transparent with both your current employer and potential new employer, being upfront about your reasons for leaving, fully considering any reasons that might make you want to stay, and having realistic expectations if entering a negotiation.