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How to handle a counter offer

Counter offers can include increased pay, a promotion, a transfer to another division/business area, additional management responsibilities or a reiteration of your value to the business.

Whatever your level of seniority, emotional factors will always play a role in your decision to take a new role. It’s important to try not to let emotional factors have a disproportionate impact on your decision, whether it’s frustration with your current role or flattery at receiving a counter offer.

Ultimately, you need to consider what will be best for you, personally and professionally, over the long term. Here are some questions to consider before taking the decision to accept a counter offer or not.

1. Would you have received a pay rise or promotion if you hadn't chosen to leave?

Your employer may be prepared to offer you better terms if you decide to stay, but you should consider why it took the risk of you leaving the business for them to make these changes. It is also worth considering if an immediate, short term increase in your pay could have a negative impact on your relationship with your manager, your annual bonus or other considerations.

2. Does your employer have a long term career plan for you?

If you explain to your employer that career progression is a major factor in your decision to take a new role then they may say that this can be taken into account if you decide to stay. However, if they had not discussed a career plan for you previously, you may question their commitment to developing one now.

A counter offer can be flattering and the appeal of sticking with a familiar job can be strong. However, it is important to consider whether accepting it will be the best decision over the long term.

3. Is your employer willing to commit to the counter offer in writing?

If your manager is prepared to make you a counter offer, it’s acceptable to ask them to confirm the terms of the offer in writing. This will help to clarify how serious they are about taking steps to address the issues that led you to find a new role. If they are unwilling to put down all of these proposed changes on paper, this may be cause to question how serious they are about committing to the new terms.

4. Will your work relationships suffer if you stay?

Once your employer has been made aware of your desire to leave, it is possible that the trust between you and your manager could be damaged if you decide to stay. If you do opt to take a counter offer, it’s likely that the dynamic of your relationship with your manager will change, at least over the short to mid-term. It’s worth considering if you would prefer a clean start with a new team or if you are prepared to work at rebuilding trust with your employer.

5. Do the new terms address your original reasons for leaving?

The offer of a promotion or increased salary is tempting and flattering, but if there were underlying issues regarding the working culture, business area/industry or other factors which are integral to the organisation, the counter offer may not address them.

Want to know more?

For more information, don't hesitate to contact one of our offices.

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