You’re reading this because you want to know if you should accept a counteroffer from your current employer. Of course, your boss would like to keep you, but many professionals who have faced a decision like yours would suggest otherwise. While there are situations in which accepting a counteroffer is reasonable, there are more situations where you should consider politely declining and accepting the new opportunity. Below, we’ll help you find the answer to the question, “Should I accept a counteroffer?”
A counteroffer is your current employer’s attempt to keep you on their team after they learn you received an offer of employment from another company. A counteroffer usually involves incentives such as an increased salary, a new title, a change of responsibilities, greater flexibility, or all of the above.
More than 50% of employees accept a counteroffer. At the time of the proposal, it can seem like the right decision for a few reasons:
1. The Counteroffer Is Enticing
Maybe the proposed salary bump makes you feel valued. Or perhaps you’ve received a new job title and responsibilities that will allow you to continue developing and growing in your career.
2. You’re Familiar With Where You Are
Although you have some complaints, your current company is the “devil you know.” You are already familiar with your current employer’s expectations, and keeping your current job means that you won’t have to learn any new ins and outs.
3. Fear of a Less Favorable Environment
The possibility of change can be intimidating. Entering a new work environment where there are a lot of unknowns can leave you asking yourself, “What if my new boss is too challenging to work with?”, “Will my new coworkers like and respect me?” or “Could this new organization potentially have less job security?”
Despite these potential reasons to stay, it’s important to know that 80% of employees who accept a counteroffer leave within six months, and 90% leave within a year. Let’s understand why a substantial majority of counteroffers do not result in job satisfaction:
1. It Won’t Solve Underlying Issues
Only 12% of employees resign due to dissatisfaction with their salary. According to many sources, the #1 reason people resign is due to a poor relationship with their supervisor or “a bad boss”. Other reasons you resigned may have been lack of growth opportunity, feeling overworked and underappreciated, poor company culture, disconnect with company values, or simply that you feel ready for your next step elsewhere. You started exploring new opportunities for a reason. So ask yourself – are the issues you identified resolved by your employer’s counteroffer? If not, do not accept.
For example, let’s say your job search begins because you are underpaid, are working too many long hours, and feel that you can no longer grow within the organization. If your current company counteroffers with a raise and you accept, this temporarily addresses your pay issue and may feel like growth and a justification for hours. However, a few months later, you will likely find yourself unhappy once again because you are still overworked with nowhere to grow.
2. Lack of Room for Progression
Expanding on our last example, let’s take a closer look at the desire for growth. Many people choose to look for new opportunities because they do not see the possibility of progression at their current company. Moving upward could mean access to training or education, a boss or colleague who serves as your mentor, opportunities to learn and take on higher-level tasks, a promotion with increased leadership and management responsibility, or whatever career growth looks like to you.
Take the time to reflect on your goals and ask yourself, “Will I be able to reach these goals if I stay here?” Monetary gain aside, can your current employer provide you with growth opportunities? If your answer is no, it’s time for you to progress your career with a new team.
3. Damaged Employer Relationship
Accepting a counteroffer may harm your relationship with your current employer. After all, you just told them you were leaving and now you are only staying because they offered more money or benefits. Your boss may grow concerned that you’ve been unhappy and have not said anything or that you could essentially be “bought.” This can cause your employer to question your loyalty, how long you will stay with the company, and whether you’ll resign the moment you receive a better offer.
Once your employer knows you are entertaining other offers, they might even start to look for someone to replace you. If you are replaced, you will have to start your job search over again. So, if you feel that accepting a counteroffer will result in losing your employer’s trust and lead them to find someone to replace you, you should not accept the counteroffer.
4. Your Employer May Not be Paying You Enough
Before you accept a counteroffer with a pay raise, consider why you were searching in the first place. Did you ask for a raise in the past but were met with objection? Was receiving a counteroffer the only way you were able to obtain a pay raise? If you answered yes to both of these questions, the odds of receiving ongoing raises that are in line with your compensation goals are slim.
On that note, if compensation is your only concern with your current company, always communicate your interest in a raise prior to looking for new opportunities. In some cases, they may not have been aware of the need for a compensation adjustment and would have accommodated your request had you brought it to their attention.
5. Benefits of a New Opportunity
While accepting a new role may be intimidating, think about the potential benefits of a new opportunity. As famously said by Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Taking that shot by accepting a new opportunity with a new company could take your career to the next level.
Your next employer might offer a better work environment, more career options, or even a new challenge to help you reach greater heights. Start to make a list of the opportunities available to you in your new role. As you add more to the list, you may find yourself less inclined to accept the counteroffer from your employer.
When deciding whether you should accept a counteroffer, pause and think about why you chose to explore new companies. Remind yourself that the thought of taking on a new opportunity may be scary, but staying with an employer or role that makes you unhappy is never worth it. There is not a “one size fits all” answer, but ultimately you need to choose the opportunity that will benefit you the most overall.