Counter offers, to accept or not?

Woman thinking about whether to accept a counter offer or not

You’ve made up your mind to move on, accepted a position elsewhere, and tendered your resignation to your boss. Then, out of nowhere, your employer lures you with a pay rise, a promotion, or better benefits, which tempt you to accept and stay. What should you do? 

Once your decision to leave is solidified enough to actually resign, changing your mind can be bad for your own morale - and for your relationships within the company. Here are 3 reasons why accepting a counter offer is rarely a good idea.

1. Are the reasons behind the counter offer in your best interest?

It is usually cheaper to keep an employee through offering a pay rise or promotion than it is to hire and train a new member of staff, so this may be the main reason your employer wants you to stay. Chances are pretty good that your decision to move on from your current job wasn’t just about money. If it was, you would have asked for a raise (and gotten it, if they valued you).

While it is clearly in your employer's interest to retain you, this doesn’t change the fact that you’d been unhappy enough at work to not only look for another opportunity, but to interview and subsequently receive an offer for a new job. It is also worth considering whether you would have received the pay rise or promotion in your counter offer if you hadn’t handed in your resignation. If not, are you comfortable working for a company that doesn’t reward its employees until they have decided to leave?

2. Why did you want to leave in the first place?

Why did you imagine moving on in the first place? Be honest with yourself and revisit your original list of reasons for wanting to leave - things that go beyond money, like your relationship with your boss or co-workers, the company culture, and the workload. If you look closely, you’ll probably realise that the counteroffer doesn’t resolve them all. You probably already tried to make your current situation work, and found that job hunting was a last resort. Giving it one more try might just delay the inevitable and waste your valuable professional time.

3. How will the relationship with your employer be impacted?

Here’s the bad news: should you decide to accept the counteroffer and stay, your new post-resignation life is not going to be easy. You might have caught your company leadership off guard with your departure announcement, and they weren’t ready for you to leave just yet. But now that they know you’re not happy, your loyalty will always be in question. Your company’s leaders know they won’t get their best from an under-satisfied employee, and your place in the company will never be the same.

All situations are different

Of course, every situation is different and accepting a counter offer is not always a bad idea. Before deciding to stay with your current employer, make sure to properly take into consideration how this decision will impact your career further down the road.

Regardless of your feelings about leaving, always be gracious in the face of a counteroffer. A polite, smiling “Thank you. But, I think it is time to move on” is sure to keep you in your present organisation’s good graces on your way out the door… and you never know when you might need that reference again!

Need more advice?

Find out if your employer's company culture is right for you.

Set up a targeted
job alert  


Check your salary 


Find your next job 


Download our free
interview guide 


More career advice 


Latest jobs