Accepting Counteroffers

The flattery aside, should you accept them?

Photo by Katie Harp on Unsplash

Recently during a gathering, one of my friend who has been seeking out of his company has finally clinched a job offer at another place with a decent raise with similar work expectations. Strangely, he is not happy about it. Upon further probing, he muttered, “My current boss is making me a counteroffer to match the pay raise. Shall I stay? Since I am familiar with the current place anyway.”

“Hell, NO!”

Ok, I may have blurted that out too quickly and too loud. You can criticise me as being too opinionated. I was once in the shoe of this friend of mine. I have chosen to accept a counter-offer a decade ago. If I were to make a choice again, my decision would not be the same. Here’s why:

Why leave in the first place?

Remember the day that you send out that cover-letter applying for the new job? What’s the reason that pushed you to look for a new job in the first place. Have you forgotten all about it? What was the push factor that was strong enough for you to tip the scale to press that ‘sent’ button. Only to crawl back at the slightest hint of staying at the comfort zone once again.

How about all the time spent during lunch looking through all the job listing and the evenings spent writing cover letters and sending them out to potential companies. The leave that you took to go for the interview (or a couple of them). You could have spent more time with your loved ones instead.

What was the problem that you needed to solve in the first place? Where the solution is to leave the current workplace. Is it a money problem? Well unless the counteroffer is substantially higher — think about what can you potentially be missing? The growth, the culture, the potential new relationships to be forged.

Why accept the counteroffer? Because it is our human nature that tends not to change?

What the employer could be thinking

Let’s spend a moment and ‘de-humanise’ your employer and sees him as a ‘corporate entity’. What could he be thinking right now? Could he be trying to plug a gap? The cost of losing staff is tremendously high. Giving you a counter-offer is often a much cost-effective option.

By offering you a counteroffer, the employer averted a crisis and who else but you will be the best candidate to train the new staff he is going to hire next. What an irony it will be should this new hire be your replacement half a year later when you have finished training him.

Have you ever considered why another company would want to employ you? You are a valuable asset. Could it be a competitor? Some employers may want to thaw the competitors’ plan of acquiring you (this often happens if you are in sales). An opportunity to kill the competitor from getting you, then boot you out after using you, knowing that you can no longer join the competitor as you have rejected their offer recently.

What could you be potentially losing

For sure, your potential future company will probably not be offering you ever again. You have lost your rights to enter, forever. You will never get to know what it is like to be with them, may it be good or bad.

Instead, you can only find comfort in knowing what you are going to get comfortable as you stay on with your current company. Nothing is going to change. You know exactly where this is going to end. Well, guess again!

Life is not going to be the same again

Even if the above does not happen, luckily your boss has a heart and is genuine in retaining you. It can start to get awkward. Life will never be the same again. Here’s my experience from a decade ago:

When I handed in my resignation letter, my boss was astounded.

“Give me two days. I will see what I can do.”

“I don’t think I you can do much, boss. They are offering to double my pay.”

The organisation was grossly underpaying some of the staffs. There are high pay discrepancies even between colleagues within the same team. It was highly possible for other organisations to offer double the pay, thus.

I hosted a BBQ session with my colleagues celebrating the event, and everyone is merry.

The next day, my boss came back with a counter-offer of an exclusive 20% pay raise. The condition is that I have to keep this confidential. Frankly, I was touched as this is unheard of in the organisation. My boss pulled all the strings he could to land me that deal. I relented and accepted the counteroffer. Not because of the money, but because of my boss.

Soon after, the problems came.

Some colleagues started to gossip and speculated the reasons that made me stay. Rumours began spreading that the company has doubled my pay. Despite my outright denial in such allegations, distrust grew as the days gone by. One colleague even made a big fuss about why he was not getting a bigger pay raise during the next performance review and threatened to quit. By now, you should know where does the story lead to.

Two years after, it was a stellar year for me. I have accomplished some major milestones and is prime time for a promotion or at least a raise. During the performance review, the Human Resource department commented that the company has already given me a 20% pay-adjustment previously, (whenever previously was), so why am I asking for a raise again? Somehow they will use this counteroffer to defer all my future credits, to god knows when.

Here’s what I think

You will never know what can happen in the future if you choose to change today. It can be good or worse. But you know what is going to happen if you stayed on — is this what you want?

Give thanks to the choice that you have made in life. It has led you to become what you are today. Just make sure you make a better decision next time as we become better every day.

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Originally published at

Research-Practitioner specialising in Knowledge Management and Trainer in Team Dynamics. Creator of The Stakeholder Grid Method™

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