07 Dec Counter Offer


A counter-offer is an offer from your current employer to rival the one you have received from your future employer, to convince you to stay. Counter-offers can take many forms. A straight increase in salary – usually to meet or beat your new offer – additional company benefits, a sought-after promotion or new job title, additional responsibility, a change in role, more involvement in exciting projects. Or any combination of the above.  Basically a counter offer will be what ever your employer has to offer to prevent you from leaving their employment.  How much they offer depends on how desperate they are to keep you!

Resigning is hard to do!

Anyone who has had to resign from a company that they have been with for some time, or were they have made friends, will know that as much as you may have wanted to leave, when it comes to the crunch, it is not always that easy!  Not only is it hard to say good bye to friends and memories, but change is scary and most of us fear the unknown.

Given the fact that resigning is generally unknown territory, counter-offers can be confusing. Being put under pressure to stay, and having your reasons for leaving challenged and undermined certainly doesn’t make it easy. Even though you worked hard to get the new role and have been really looking forward to it, you find yourself thinking: maybe I do owe something to my current employer. Maybe things weren’t that bad.  At least if I stay here I won’t be the first to be retrenched, as I would be at the new company (Last in, First out!)

Counter-offers are more common than you think. Statistics on how many times it happens are hard to find. However, one thing that I did find when researching counter offers is that most people (72%- 86%) who accept a counter-offer have subsequently left their job anyway within twelve months. In fact, a great many are gone within three to six months.

When we receive a counter offer, we like to look on the positive side and feel flattered.  They offered us a counter offer as a sign of our unrivalled importance and value to our employer.  They offered us the counter offer because they have suddenly seen how hard we work, how good we are at what we do, that they have a career path in mind for us and know how the company will suffer when we go.

What you should actually be thinking, though, is that besides boosting your ego your employer may have other reasons for counter-offering you. These may include:

  • Replacing an employee can be expensive and they may not have a budget to re-recruit new staff at that time of year
  • They have realized that they do not have time for your to hand over and do not want to be left without someone in your position
  • They want to have you cover while they find a replacement for you- maybe by training up someone in the department, restructuring or head hunting someone
  • They want you to finish the project you are working on
  • They don’t have the time to train someone new at the moment
  • Losing staff might reflect badly on your boss

10 Reasons NOT to accept a counter offer

There is rarely a good reason to accept a counter-offer and stay where you are. You wanted to move, you’ve been through the recruitment process, you’ve been successful and you have scored a job that meets your criteria. Think about these factors:

  • From the day of your resignation, your loyalty will always be in question
  • This lack of loyalty is likely to be an obstacle to future promotions
  • Your colleagues will look at you differently – after all, you don’t really want to be there do you?
  • Your boss will probably start casting around for your replacement immediately – whether you stay or not
  • Why are they offering you what you deserve now, rather than before your resignation?
  • Has the real reason you resigned been adequately addressed?
  • How guilty do you really feel? After all, shouldn’t you be putting yourself first? Would the company think twice about getting shot of you if the chips were down?
  • What type of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you are worth?
  • Where would the money for the counter offer come from? Is it your next raise early? Be aware that all companies have strict wage and salary guidelines to follow.
  • Your company will immediately begin looking for a new person at a lower salary price.
  • You have now made your employer aware that you are unhappy, and your loyalty will always be in question. When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember your questionable loyalty.
  • When times get tough, your employer will begin the retrenchment with you.
  • The same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will be repeated in the future, even if you accept a counter offer.
  • Accepting a counter offer is an insult to your intelligence and to your pride knowing that you were bought.
  • A well-managed company does not make counter offers. If they really had valued you, they would have made you the offer in a regularly scheduled review.


…. Basically, is you accept a counter offer, when all the promises are made and broken, when the additional money is taxed and spent, the same reasons that made you look for a job in the first place will still be there and the job that you turned down because of the counter offer, will be gone.


Don’t let an unexpected counter-offer stop you in your tracks. Take it in your stride, thank your employer for the opportunity and reaffirm your intention to leave. Stand your ground.

But if you decide to stay, be on your toes. Don’t be naïve. Just because you’ve accepted your counter offer doesn’t mean your resignation has been forgotten. You are going to have to work extremely hard to win back your employer’s trust. You’ll probably find you have to strive harder than your colleagues to prove your company loyalty and worthiness as a long-term prospect. Your new post-resignation life with your old company is not going to be easy. And accepting a counter offer is definitely not the safe option. Watch your back!