Head Turned by the Counter Offer? What to Think About and Why it’s Not Always the Best Choice

Posted on 25 November 2021

5 minute read

Have you ever gone through the long interview process, felt ready to accept your new job and then…your boss has proposed a counter offer? One which leaves you feeling confused, overwhelmed and suddenly, unsure.

While a counter offer can seem flattering, there are a number of underlying reasons behind a counter offer that don’t always have your best interests at heart.

We’re writing this blog to provide some useful advice in your decision making process and hope to give you that push into your new role!

So, What’s So Tempting About a Counter Offer?

Well, the excuses we use to try and convince ourselves to accept the counter offer usually are:

  • You wouldn’t have to move and settle into a new company

  • You wouldn’t have to make new friends

  • You’d be getting more money (maybe?)

  • It just seems easier

But are these really good enough reasons to stay? Before we explore that, let’s look at the psychology behind why you’re feeling like this.

Cognitive Dissonance

All of these contradictory thoughts can be known as cognitive dissonance – it’s that sense of immediate doubt over your decisions and strong consideration of the alternative being the better option.

For example, when you buy a new pair of shoes and soon after you’ve paid you start to think things like ‘Did I really need to buy these?’, ‘Were they worth the money?’ or ‘Will they go with enough of my outfits?’. That’s cognitive dissonance and perhaps we’re all too familiar with that feeling.

However, there are more specific points to consider once proposed with a counter offer.

Your Happiness and Motivation

When weighing up the pros and cons of your counter offer, we think the first and obvious thing to consider is where will you be happiest? And where will you feel most motivated?

Only 12% of employees resign due to salary. So, there must be other factors influencing your decision to move elsewhere and these factors can’t be simply resolved by a pay rise. Think about why you wanted to move in the first place and what will make you happiest.

Also, if your employer is offering a counter offer of increased pay, it’s likely they’ll expect you to take on greater responsibility. And will you be motivated enough to live up to these raised expectations?

To help answer this, 80% of candidates who accept a counter offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months. Evidently, this is because all of those issues you felt were present when wanting to first leave, are still there.

Similarly, half of those who do succumb to a counter offer, reinitiate their job search within 90 days. Some references even say 60 days!

So, try and think long term because that pay rise might not cut it. Can this counter offer really fulfil those needs and wants that you were initially willing to move jobs for?

What Are Your Options?

It's important to run through all of your options as you want to avoid that confusing sense of cognitive dissonance.

What can this new role offer you that perhaps your current role can't?

Are you in a position to negotiate? Are you in a position to ask for more money? What are you worth?

Their Intentions Behind a Counter Offer

As said before, a counter offer might seem flattering. But, are they wanting to keep you on because they think you’re a valued member of the team? Will you be missed in a professional sense and as a friend of the company?  

Would they have offered you the counter offer at some point anyway? Where has the money for an increased salary come from?

(*we know there are a lot of questions but, there’s a lot to consider!*)

Perhaps they’re only offering you more benefits because you’re thinking of leaving. Or maybe they’re trying to persuade you to stay until they find a replacement as the stats show you’ll leave anyway.

Especially as there is a skills shortage within the AI industry, your employer will know the cost of finding someone new. So, financially speaking, counter offers make the most sense for employers. It can cost the current employer as much as 213% of an annual salary to replace a senior executive. So really, a £20k pay rise is not much of a risk for them.

Are You Now Expendable?

As we all know too well, external forces, ones of our control, can bring about endless uncertainties for the internal workforce.

What happens when times get tough and the company need to make some redundancies?  It’s likely you’ll be at the top of the list in this instance. They’ll be thinking “well if they didn’t want to work here anyway then why not get rid of them first”. An unfortunately, easy decision for them.

New Opportunities

Take a minute to reflect on what the new job could offer you that was initially so enticing.

Think about some of the new opportunities it’s offering and could unlock further down the line: career progression, new location, new challenges, broadening your knowledge, wanting to have a greater social impact and anything else!

Making the Final Decision

We understand making that final decision is probably the hardest part of it all. So we’d state the obvious in saying the best thing to do is talk to the people who know you best. Friends, family or anybody who can help settle any nerves and give you the confidence you need to make the decision, whatever that may be.

We’d also recommend going over any uncertainties with your recruiter. They’re well-versed in the process and they’re there to go over all the facts with you. Know that they prioritise your personal growth and development and want to help you find your perfect job.  

So, we’re sure we have given you plenty of things to think about when receiving a counter offer from your current employer. We really do encourage you to take that step in moving into your next role, as there are so many new opportunities and challenges out there, that can help you reach your full potential.

If you think you’re ready to move into the AI industry or are already in the industry and want to discuss your potential, future opportunities – feel free to get in touch with us!

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