Being presented with a counter offer from your employer can be likened to a last ditch attempt from your partner — pleading to stay together — after you've just told them you want to breakup.
You’ll likely consider it because you feel flattered by their reconfirmed commitment to you, comfort in familiarity and routine, as well as a possible discomfort in hurting the feelings of someone you have built a relationship with. Ultimately it leaves you confused and questioning what it is you really want. But chances are that if you were ready to break up with them, and had objectively identified reasons to, then you need to follow through with it.
The best thing to do when a counter offer lands in front of you is to take some time to consider what you want from your job and where you want your career to go. Here are five considerations to help you decide:
1. Reflect on why you started looking for a new job
What was the reason that you wanted a new job? Perhaps it was when you realised that your current role wasn’t challenging you enough, the projects didn’t align with your area of interest, or the realistic career path on offer was uninspiring. When considering a counteroffer, ask yourself whether it is realistic that the underlying issues you identified with your role are going to change.
2. Will the counter offer resolve the issues?
The intent to change them might exist, but is it actually going to happen? If the honest answer is no, then staying in your current role is like treading water. It’s much better for everyone, including yourself, if what you’re needing from a job can be provided by your current place of work. However, that’s not always possible, and finding a role that has what you need, whether it’s more responsibility, a different structure or just a different role all together will help you develop and grow in your career.
3. How important is the money?
If a higher salary is the key motivator for looking for a role, accepting a counter offer that includes higher pay may be your best choice. Better yet, before looking for a new role and resigning, try speaking to your boss to negotiate a pay rise, they might surprise you. If you love the job, feel challenged enough and have the responsibilities you want, there’s no reason to leave routine and a company that you’ve put time and energy into.
4. Consider how it will affect your reputation
Accepting a counter offer can impact your reputation, from how your managers see you to how people outside of your company see you. A study found that about 80% of senior executives and 60% of HR leaders were less likely to trust employees who accepted counter offers. Accepting a counter offer may not only negatively impact your prospects of employment at other companies, but also impact your prospects at your current role.
5. Think about how you’ll feel in five years
We’ve all rushed into making a decision, whether it was buying that expensive air fryer we really didn’t need but wanted or saying yes to the dessert the waiter sold so well, even though we were full. Then the next day, one year or five years later we regret that decision because we new it wasn’t the right one. Don’t feel pressured into accepting a counter offer there and then. Take the night to sleep on it and consider whether accepting it will lead you to where you want to be in a few years, or possibly delay you getting there.
Counter offers are nice to receive. They validate our worth and give us a sense of being needed, but they’re not always the best path to take. The most important thing we can do is take the time to listen and understand, but also to reflect on what the realistic career journey looks like down each path. After these considerations, hopefully you feel more confident and less confused about whether accepting a counter offer is the right decision for your career.