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Don’t Accept That Counteroffer Just Yet!

Anna Bramlette | 06/08/2023

Is it ever a good idea to accept a counteroffer? When an employee submits their resignation, it is common for the employer to counter with a new offer in an effort to persuade them to stay. Companies invest a significant amount of time and resources in finding and replacing valuable staff members, so they naturally want to retain them. Given the challenging job market today, who wouldn’t want to be in a situation where two companies desire their skills? However, accepting a counteroffer often leads to more problems than solutions.

While the idea of having two companies competing for your services may seem appealing, accepting a counteroffer can lead to long-term problems. In this article, we will explore the reasons why accepting a counteroffer can backfire. We will discuss how it can damage trust, strain relationships, fail to address underlying issues, and send the wrong message to your employer. Additionally, we will consider situations in which a counteroffer may be worth considering and provide advice on how to address concerns with your current employer before reaching the point of wanting to leave.

When asked whether accepting a counteroffer is ever advisable, most human resources professionals and recruiters responded with a resounding “no.” Some arguments were made in favor of accepting a counteroffer, but only if the decision is made for the right reasons and handled appropriately.

Why accepting a counteroffer may backfire

  1. Loss of trust: By informing your employer that you have received or accepted another job offer, you are essentially indicating that you have been unhappy in your current position. Even if your company presents a counteroffer, it becomes challenging for them to trust that you won’t eventually seek opportunities elsewhere. “By resigning, you have broken the bond of trust with your company,” says Judi Perkins, career coach and founder of Find the Perfect Job. “It’s similar to catching your partner cheating. Doubt will always linger. Eventually, you will leave the company, but next time, it will be on their terms, not yours.”
  1. Burning bridges: Just as threatening to resign can leave a negative impression on your current employer, retracting your acceptance of an offer from another company can sour their opinion of you as well. Even if your acceptance was only verbal, it is still perceived as a commitment between you and the company. If you decide to stay but your situation doesn’t improve, you will have burned a bridge with a company that might have been a better fit for you. “If the hiring company has already released other candidates and announced your upcoming arrival, and you then back out, you have tarnished your reputation with a top-rate company in your industry,” warns Perkins.
  2. Unresolved issues: “If a person accepts a counteroffer and remains with their current employer, there is a greater than 85 percent chance that they will leave the company within six months,” explains Alan Fluhrer, CEO of recruiting firm Fluhrer & Bridges. “This is because the underlying issues that led to the decision to leave have not been adequately addressed.”
  3. Unnecessary bargaining: Using a new job offer as leverage with your current employer is rarely a good strategy. It sends the wrong message and implies that you have to resort to threats of leaving for your employer to recognize your value. “What does it say about your current employer if you have to essentially blackmail them into offering a fair salary, recognition, or opportunities for advancement? Why would you want to stay?” questions Cafasso.
  4. Initial choice and opportunity: If you have accepted an offer from another company, chances are you did so after careful consideration and for various reasons. Some of these reasons may be related to issues you are experiencing in your current job, while others may be due to the potential for growth and advancement at the new company. Cooper suggests approaching the situation from this perspective: “With this new job, I have made the cut; they have chosen me. I have thoroughly researched the company and its culture, and it is a place where I want to be. I desire this new opportunity for the things it offers and more—things that are missing from my current employment, such as financial rewards, emotional fulfillment, cultural fit, and so on.”

Regarding burning bridges with the company from which you accepted an offer, Millikin suggests that transparency can help mitigate some of the damage. “You can minimize this by being as open as possible with the hiring company. If you were honest about the reasons you were considering leaving, it is easier to present a convincing narrative about how your current employer genuinely addressed those concerns.”

Addressing issues directly While the answer to whether you should accept a counteroffer is not black and white, it is best to address the issues you are facing at your current company before they escalate to the point of wanting to leave. If you communicate your concerns to your manager and no improvement occurs, then you will never wonder if things could have gotten better. You can move on to the next opportunity without any regrets or looking back.

So, next time you are thinking about accepting a counteroffer, think about the effect it may have on the future relationship between you and your employer.