What to Do With a Counter Offer When Leaving a Job

Counter offers are an increasingly common part of recruitment and something that many modern workers in the energy sector will experience.

This is especially true right now, when businesses are trying harder to retain their key workers in a competitive, candidate-led market. If we consider that around 40% of workers expect to leave their jobs over the next 6 – 12 months for a better work-life balance and businesses are reluctant to let staff go, it’s clear why counter offers are now commonplace if you’re leaving a job. 

What is a counter offer?

Counter offers in recruitment are packages provided by an employer, specifically designed to stop an employee from leaving a role. The counter offer is generally tailored to the employee and targets the issues they’re facing – such as salary or title. You’ll typically receive the counter offer after you hand in your notice, which is when further negotiations continue. 

We’re seeing these counter offers become more popular because they’re fundamentally cheaper than replacing an employee wholesale. While a company may spend in the short-term on a salary increase or additional benefits, it’s usually less than going through the entire recruitment process. Unfortunately, for some employees, this doesn’t fix the problem. 

Other reasons for a business delivering a counter offer is: 

• The business doesn’t want to add to an already busy workload

• The business doesn’t want to break up a proven, successful team

• The business doesn’t want to replace a worker due to challenging market conditions

• The business doesn’t want to lose an employee that has key information about daily operations

Why are we seeing more counter offers when people leave a job?

The main driver behind the rise in counter offers is the challenges that the global pandemic presented. With job security a priority, we’re seeing more vacancies than candidates, which has created a competitive market.

Many different companies – especially in the energy sector – are struggling to replace employees that are technically skilled and have the right qualifications. This increases the chances of a company utilising counter offers to ensure they’re retaining highly-skilled and consistent professionals.

Counter offers are increasingly not just for senior employees either. According to data, 50% of all candidates that currently resign from a role will experience a counter offer. So, should you take it? 

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Should you take a counter offer if you leave a job?

If you hand in your notice, it’s a good idea to prepare for a counter offer. You’ll want to make sure that it’s the right choice for you – even if you still have some loyalty to the company that you’re working at. 

While the answer is ultimately up to you, you should take the time to consider some crucial questions:

Why were you leaving in the first place?

It’s not uncommon for people to have several reasons for leaving a job, many of which we’ve covered here. The important thing to remember is that it’s never usually just one. You’ll likely have issues with several different things at work and chances are, a counter offer isn’t the answer to them all.

Think about the most common reason for people leaving a job – salary. While it’s nice to get the chance to earn a higher salary, it’s likely not going to translate into the career progression or development that you want. These issues will still be present after you accept and can still be a contributor to a negative work environment.

How will a counter offer help in the long-term?

Data suggests that 80% of the professionals who take a counter offer will leave the same business in six months regardless. When we consider 12 months, that number rises to 90%.

Here at AD Energy, we always advise our candidates and clients to prioritise long-term over the short-term. When you’re considering a counter offer, the same rule applies.

This is because when you accept a counter offer, you’re papering over the cracks but not necessarily solving the major issues at play. At the same time, handing in your notice can bring up new issues and change your relationship with colleagues or managers.

While your bosses may want you to stay, they may simply provide the counter offer as a way of keeping you sweet whilst preparing for your departure.

Would you have regrets?

If you have regrets after accepting a counter offer, there’s a chance it’ll feed into the other issues at play and quickly turn into resentment.

Fundamentally, this is your decision to make. Just remember that if you’re looking for a new challenge, accepting a counter offer may be the worst option. 

Why are you getting these benefits now?

A key question to ask yourself is: why have I not received any of these benefits already? 

Ideally, benefits such as a new title or salary increase should be based on your performance, not because you handed in your resignation.

The best course of action – as always – is to consider whether these benefits will fix the challenges you’re facing and offer you positive experiences over the long-term.

Remember – if you receive a new position as part of the counter offer, you’ll also be expected to justify the new position. In some cases, you may not want to be in that situation again. 

How to handle a counter offer when you leave a job?

Here are some tips on how to handle a counter offer when you leave a job:

Speak to your recruitment consultant: If you’re working with a recruitment agency or a specific recruitment consultant, it’s best to speak with them as soon as you receive a counter offer. As a recruitment professional, they’ll have seen this situation hundreds of times and will be in the best position to advise. It’s in their best interest to make sure you’re successful, as they want to maintain a good relationship with both clients and candidates.

Confirm terms with your manager: While you speak to your recruitment consultant, also check in with your line manager and confirm the terms of the counter offer. This will give you an opportunity to determine whether you’re actually valued or if they’re simply looking to replace you. 

Compare your counter offer to the new role: When you’re looking at a counter offer, directly compare it to the new job role. Which is a better option for development or progression? Which company aligns best with your work ethic? Think about what works for you in the long-term.

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