When is it right to accept a counter offer?

By Russell Adams, AdMore Recruitment– Specialists in Retail and Hospitality Recruitment, Search & Selection, Talent Management and Career Development.

Having recently read a number of blogs on this subject I feel compelled to write this as I believe most articles are very one sided in their viewpoint. Most are focused on outlining to candidates the many reasons why, when they resign, they should not be tempted to stay by a counter offer. I don’t think I have read anything explaining the reasons why you SHOULD accept a counter offer but here’s the thing – there are times and there are circumstances when the right thing to do is to stay put.

To me it all comes down to the individual’s motivations for leaving the organisation in the first place. Often individuals are very happy in their careers, working for a company they respect, where they are paid well for the job that they do, where they are culturally aligned and where they feel valued. Sometimes the missing piece and hence their desire to move on is purely driven by their ambition to take on a more senior role with more responsibility. If the counter offer entails gaining that promotion and taking on that responsibility then why not accept?

You can ask why had the promotion not happened already however sometimes (particularly in the current market) there has to be a reason or a rationale to make things happen. Your resignation may just be that catalyst that makes things happen.  Only you as an individual will know how well you have been looked after and how genuine your employer’s intentions are.

As has been well documented, I would also caution people from accepting a counter offer based on either pure promises  or increased salary alone. This is an important and difficult decision for people to make, often with two competing parties putting you under significant pressure to stay or to accept the other role.  Certainly, these situations are rarely as clear cut as many articles suggest.

My advice if you are unsure is to talk to people you trust who are impartial to the situation and who will try and make you see the situation in a balanced and unbiased way.

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6 thoughts on “When is it right to accept a counter offer?”

  1. You’re well paid, happy in your job and you fit the company’s culture. How well do you fit if your ambition for more responsibility is only satisfied by threatening to leave? It seems your desire to advance doesn’t fit the company’s plans at all. Will you have to play the counter offer game the next time you get the promotion bug? Seems to me that if the company’s promotion track is too slow for you, sooner or later the company will see you as a misfit for the culture and earmark you for that Manager of Special Projects position – I.e. drop the hint that it’s time for you to go, Sure, accept that counter, but it’s a zero sum game you’re playing.

    1. Thanks for the comment Ralph, you make some interesting and valid points. The point I was trying to make is that occasionally there will be a justified reason why you haven’t been promoted and that in some circumstances the right thing might be to stay. My thoughts were driven by the fact that most commentary out there says never accept a counter offer and to me it is just not that clear cut.

  2. A former colleague of mine asked for a promotion. The manager “nearly choked on his beer”. So my colleague resigned to become a contractor. Suddenly the promotion and a salary increase materialised. His response? “Too late”

    If your employer makes a counter offer get it in writing and the phraseology checked by a lawyer specialising in employment law.

    Remember also that employees who stay too long are regarded as second rate and only there because they cannot get work elsewhere: Therefore they do not need or deserve promotion.

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