A Counter Offer from Your Current Employer: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

You know when you’re good at what you do. It’s nothing to do with being cocky or big-headed, if you bring noticeable results, drive and passion to a job, it’s pretty hard to ignore. Employers will see this, too, when you’re job hunting. Before you know it, the time will come to hand in your notice! So, what happens when you tell your boss that you’ve found a better opportunity elsewhere? If they really don’t want (or can’t afford) to lose you, you may find yourself in a little tug-of-war battle between your current employer and your potential new one! A counter offer from the company you were all set to leave can seem tempting, but should you accept?

Sure, you know the people, the place and the job inside out, it’s a bit odd that you’ve never heard of the new title they’ve promised to give you but some more money would certainly be an added bonus! However, when it comes to your career, ‘better the devil you know’ isn’t always the best approach to take.

You may be asking yourself: “This is so flattering, they must really want to keep me if they’re offering me more money, right?”. While there is some truth in this, you need to ask yourself some other important questions while considering a counter offer from your boss.

Why now?

You’ve been working your butt off for them for years, you never really seemed to move forward and getting a pay rise wasn’t on the cards. However, all of a sudden, now you’re leaving they’re offering you everything you wanted. Yes, it’s a compliment and it’s only human to be tempted by such a lucrative offer, but you really need to be wary of the reasoning behind it.

Is the business struggling and can’t afford to replace you? Are you being so underpaid that filling your role with somebody else at your level would cripple them financially? Or do they just want to keep hold of you until they find somebody to take your place? So while that counter offer may seem tempting, your current employer may have an ulterior motive.

Will the trust survive?

Try to see things from your manager’s point of view; they, and the business as a whole, have invested in you. Training, progression, support have all cost time and money to help you on your way. When you turn around and announce that you’ve found something better, this can come as a shock to them. They may also take it a little personally or question their own managerial skills. No one likes to feel like they’re doing a bad job!

This is by no means a reason not to move on, you have the right to do what’s best for you. It just may explain their reluctance to let you leave. So, if you were to change your mind and stay, the trust between you and your employer may be compromised. They may always remember that you were ready to leave or feel like you don’t like their management style. Both of which could sully your working relationship in the long run.

Where’s the respect?

Changing jobs is a big deal. If you’ve found a new opportunity that excites you enough to make you want to jump ship, then it won’t have been a decision you took lightly. If your current employer thinks that a shiny new title or throwing a bit more money at you is a solution, do they really have your best interests at heart? Even if they ask you what they need to do to keep you, they are only offering you this when you want to leave. When you really think about it, it seems a little suspect, don’t you think?

Additionally, if you tell them that you’re leaving but then you cave and accept a counter offer, what does that say about you? Your employer is unlikely to respect someone who gives in almost immediately and is so easily swayed.

What about the long term?

Choosing to stay may seem like the easier option, but what will your future at the company be like? From your employer’s point of view, you’re a flight risk. If downsizing or redundancies become necessary, who do you think will be first in the firing line? There have also been cases of workers accepting counter offers, only to find themselves demoted or phased out later on.

From your perspective – you were planning on leaving. Surely there is something inside of you that wants to move away from your current business. If you change your mind and stay put, a few months down the line you could find yourself realising exactly why you wanted to move on. Then you’re stuck. Interestingly, 60% of UK workers who took the counter offer put forward by their current employer left anyway within 6 months. Do you want to be just another statistic?

Will you burn the wrong bridges?

They’ve offered you the job, so it’s safe to say that they think that you have what it takes. Out of all the candidates they interviewed, they picked you! More importantly, you said yes. Whether you applied directly to the company in question or if you used a recruiter, you’ve made an agreement. Cold feet can sometimes come into play and if you feel like you’ve truly made the wrong decision, then changing your mind is entirely justified.

However, going back on your word because you’ve taken a counter offer from your current job is likely to rub people up the wrong way. Your contact at the new company or the recruiter you’ve been working with may feel like you’ve wasted their time. A strong professional network is key to success, so ruffling feathers won’t do you any favours. Plus, if you start to regret your choice of accepting the counter offer, you will have missed out on what could have been a great opportunity for you!

Ultimately, you know what’s best for you. Money and status aren’t everything when it comes to career happiness, so a pay rise and promotion from your current employer won’t always be the cure-all for the workday blues. Change is good, and we can only grow if we move forward. If you’re offered a brilliant new opportunity with another company that ticks all your boxes, go for it. Consider your old job as if it were a bad ex; they had their chance, it’s too late!

Good luck in that new job!

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