Counter Offer


Counter-offers can be received after you have resigned and are often an immediate reaction to the fact that you leaving the business.

This is when your current employer offers to improve your remuneration, terms of employment or undertake to change something following the submission of your resignation, a reaction to your resignation, you could say a knee jerk reaction, in an effort to get you to question your decision, change your mind and to stay.

But ask yourself - is the Counter-offer really about you?  Are they about your employer protecting the business, or are they about your firm not wanting to hand an advantage to a competitor; or are they about your Line Manager’s professional and personal needs and objectives being achieved. One thing is for sure - they are often about buying time or buying time until a replacement can be identified. The difference is, this is your decision and it should be made with your best interests at heart and what you feel is right for you as an individual.  

If you have done your thinking before resigning and probably balanced up a scorecard weighing up the reasons to stay/leave, ask yourself – why wasn’t I worth this offer yesterday, pre resignation. Have conviction in your decision and stick by it.


Things change

One thing which will not change is the fact you have resigned in the first instance. That is irrevocable.  Often than not, the relationship with your employer shifts into a different place to where you where pre resignation, due to this fact and regardless of whether stay or go.

You have now made your employer aware that you might leave.  From this day on your commitment is more likely to be questioned and your relationship with your boss is shifted to a different place.  No matter what you may be told, your loyalty to your company will now be in question, particularly in relation to the long term picture.  Having once demonstrated your lack of loyalty, you’ll lose your loyalty status.

No one likes receiving ultimatums.  In some ways, your resignation can be viewed as this.  So if a situation like promotion or a round of redundancies were to come up and you are being compared to peers, they may be viewed more favourably due to their perceived loyalty?


Does the counter offer address the real issues?

While package and promotion are very common reasons to leave, there are often other reasons which enter the equation.  Organisational culture, work life balance, location, relationships, management style, flexibility, future prospects, are often more important and profound reasons for someone looking to move on.  The counter offer usually always addresses remuneration and status, but all too seldom does it address those profound issues that affects your directly.  As such counter offers deal with the superficial reasons but not the deeply held ones. 

Studies show that most people who accept an offer end up leaving within 6 - 12 months.  They leave because their employers arrange a replacement in their own time (on their terms), or because the real reasons for wanting to make the move, have not gone away.  Ultimately, time catches up and those deeper set reasons for leaving come to the fore again.

A confident employer will never counter-offer. They will accept, support and appreciate and support the decision you have made.  Other employers will counter-offer.  Their instinct will be to try to regain control, to limit the damage, to bend the structure/grades to accommodate the leaver, to buy them time whilst their put in place their strategy to remedy the situation - to take back control. 

At the end of the day, the key factor underlying any employer – employee relationship is trust.  Once that trust and loyalty has been broken via your resignation, no matter how you depersonalise it, the relationship will never be the same again, or at best, for a very long time.  Trust yourself, and trust your instincts.  Do you your thinking before you resign and stick by your decision. 


Ask yourself this...

When your employer has to restructure, it’ll be harder for you to turn them around than it was for them to turn you around!  Think on!!

Accepting a counter offer, do you establish a reputation as someone that can be ‘bought’?

Counter offers are usually stall devices to give your employer time to replace you .Many counter offers are made in the full knowledge that you will leave in the near future, it simply buys your employer time to build a contingency plan for when this happens.


The resignation; what should i do?

Firstly, plan your resignation – plan what you are going to say, keep it simple and do not let the resignation become emotionally charged (persuasively or otherwise) or a forum for recriminations. Avoid becoming derailed from your intended course.   Make it clear in your own mind why you are leaving and don’t lose sight of that.  Remember you have done plenty of thinking pre resignation. Don't let the emotions pull you off course.

In the end, after weighing up all the factors and perhaps discussing them with family, close friends or a mentor, you will need to make a decision, and then stick by it.  You don’t want people to start questioning your decision making capabilities.  Ultimately you need to do what is in your best interests.   Make sure you do your thinking before you resign; the floundering begins if you do your thinking post resignation. 

Make it clear in your resignation letter that this is your final decision, and no counter offer will be considered.

Generally speaking, well managed companies/employers do not make counter offers.  They have established policies and compensation packages that are fair and equitable and do not wait for ‘counter offer coercion’ to do what is right for their employees.  They will respect you and your decision. 

Final note:  

Enter counter-offer on your web browser and read the results – you’ll see that this isn’t just our thoughts and observations, but the dangers and experiences of counter offers can be recited by many others too . . .