Why a counteroffer may not be the answer

By Shameem Allen, Marketing Executive at KFS Recruitment​

It is not an easy decision to leave your current job in pursuit of pastures new. So, we can assume that you will have considered all your options very carefully before taking the plunge and handing in your notice.

You have probably written your pros and cons list. Asked yourself some important questions such as:

What do I want from my next role?

More money?

Remote/Hybrid working options?

Happier workplace life?

Room to grow and progress?  

You have no doubt tried to explore these things with your current employer only to be met with a brick wall of false hope – promises that never materialise or (even worse) maybe your manager is so unapproachable you haven’t asked.

So, you make a decision, it is time to polish up that CV, get interviewed and secure something new.

You hand in your notice and suddenly you asked to meet with your boss they have some things they would like to discuss.

And so the counteroffer begins. It comes as a surprise, as suddenly you are being offered everything you have been waiting for. Have they finally realised how important and valuable you are?


But usually, it is more about benefiting them than you.

In the past year we have seen job adverts reach record numbers – according to Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s latest Labour Market Tracker in the last week of July 2022  1.85 million job adverts were active. But there just aren’t enough candidates to fill them. So, employers are desperate to keep hold of the people they already have.

It’s much easier and often cheaper for them to approach you with a counteroffer than to recruit and retrain.

So, what do you do?

First things first – do not rush. Consider your options, remember you have the ball in your court so take some time to think things through rationally.

What was your reason for leaving?

The best place to start is to ask yourself – why did you want to leave in the first place? There must have been a good reason. If it was a pay rise or a promotion can you trust that your current employer will be true to their word in matching this? Sometimes it can be so easy to be comfortable and take the easy way out but is this the best decision for your career? Don’t be caught up in the idea that suddenly you have been recognised as valuable. It shouldn’t take handing your notice in for this to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Are you happy?

If you decided to leave because of a negative workplace culture no amount of money or promotion can change this. At first, you may be happy with your new title or the bump up in your pay packet that you waited so long for, but this will fade quickly. In fact in a survey by Eclipse Software, 80% of people that accept a counteroffer will leave within 6 months anyway and 9 out of 10 leave before the year is up. Proving that most people’s initial decision to leave was the right one. Additionally turning down the new offer could have burned your bridge with the new company so take that into consideration. Another thing to look at is company values, do they align with your own? This is a big motivator and will always lead to a happier and more engaged employee so pick accordingly.

How will it affect you?

This is a tricky one as they have put a counteroffer on the table seemingly for you -but do remember that is to benefit them in the short term and it still may influence your work life going forward. Your boss may question your loyalty and colleagues may think you are no longer a team player. This could put a strain on your working relationships, and you may not be seen favourably in future decisions or important projects as you will seem like the less secure option.

Career Options?

Will taking a counteroffer allow you to make a positive step upwards on your career ladder? This is an important one, often if your counteroffer includes a promotion and pay rise you won’t be eligible for another any time soon. Does this sit well with your short- and long-term career goals – is the offer worth it? Compare it to your new offer which one will help you to grow and move forward? Which one fits your personal career timeline?

The Bottom Line

Only you can make this decision. Go with your instincts and try not to let a fear of change alter your view. If staying just doesn’t feel right to you then go with it. Something made you want to leave in the first place and that is the bottom line.