That’s it, after interviewing for a few rounds and getting a job offer in writing, it is time to put in your resignation. You schedule a meeting with your boss and break the news. You’re asked for the reasons of why you’re leaving. There is no need for long explanations regarding your decision, this isn’t the time to get things off your chest (right time was when you were still committed to your job), even in the most professional manner – truth is, things won’t change because you were unhappy. Once you go through some of the reasons, you’re told that they will circle back to you by end of day today or tomorrow, leaving them enough time to have a conversation with their higher ups and HR. A counter-offer is being cooked! One that “you cannot refuse”. You’re also promised everything that has made you look for a new job in the first place will be fixed, in a timely fashion. What’s the plan of action here? Is the counter-offer worth being considered?
The Logic Behind a Counteroffer
Let’s take it for what it is, in a nutshell, a counter offer is your employer’s last attempt to retain you once it’s a little too late. Your employer doesn’t want to lose you in the short-term. In other words, your employer wants you to leave the company on their terms and timeline, not yours. A Counteroffer buys your employer time to complete short-term projects and start the search for your replacement, while having you around to do all the necessary knowledge transfer to the new hire. Their terms, not yours. When you quit a company that did not want to lose you, most of the time, it is a negative reflection on your manager. From an employer’s point of view, it is almost always a better bargain to increase your current compensation to convince you staying in your current job. You staying would save your employer from an expensive recruitment process, not to mention the onboarding, integration and training of a new employee, etc. It would also save your team mates from the extra (temporary) workload which often translates into lesser employee satisfaction, and therefore prevent a snowball effect of resignations from happening. As a matter of fact, one employee leaving is often followed by a few other resignations. A high turnover is a manager’s nightmare.
As you already know, accepting a counter-offer is rarely the right option. Your decision to start interviewing elsewhere were likely not made lightly. Once the decision to leave your job and team behind has been made, it is usually firm & final, as reversing it could be a costly career mistake. There are, however, very isolate cases where accepting a counter offer makes sense, and actually worked out in the employees favour.
Let’s put things into perspective! Here are some Pros and Cons of accepting a Counteroffer.
Reasons to DECLINE a Counteroffer
- Your Relationships: Near-quitting your job and abandoning your team is unlikely to be seen favourably by your co-workers and low / mid-management alike.
- Your Reputation: Accepting a counter offer after you’ve made such a big decision puts you in the indecisive category with your employer.
- Your Loyalty: You’re now a flight risk. If your company ever goes through a restructuring or layoffs, chances are, you will be among the prime candidates of the chopping block. The loyalty is gone, the Trust in gone, since you were ready to leave, why wouldn’t you be?
- Your Promotions: Once the tech / team lead / architect leaves, your chances of promotion are rather slim. New hires are merit-based, internal promotions are both merit and loyalty based.
- Your Money: Is your counteroffer money coming from your next raise? If not, why were you not paid the counteroffer amount prior to your formal resignation?
- Your Dissatisfaction: In the Software Engineering world, rare are people that quit their jobs solely for money. Money aside, the odds of the root of your dissatisfaction being resolved promptly are next to none.
- Your Value: Your employer didn’t value you prior to your resignation. If you were only offered this amount along with these conditions after you went through the hassle of going to several interview rounds with another company, you’re likely simply being not very valued.
- Your Word: If you decide to stay with your current company and things don’t work for you as promised, you’ve burned a bridge with a company that may have been a better fit.
- Your Odds: According to Forbes, there is a 90% chance of you leaving your job in the next 12 months for to the same reasons you’re reading this right now (feel free to bookmark this article just in case 😉)
Reasons to ACCEPT a Counteroffer
- You might get disappointed: If your dissatisfaction with your current employer isn’t as permanent as it feels and isn’t well thought-out and / or temporary (such as a colleague quitting), a counteroffer is likely in your best interest.
- There might have been a misunderstanding / miscommunication: If you’re unhappy in your current position, but have never vocalized the reasons to your manager, they simply may be unaware of what’s going on. It is always better to talk things over before interviewing for another position. This is your due-diligence.
- You might feel valued: There is nothing like renewing one’s sense of worth like an increased pay and better working conditions. However, you still might be asking yourself why you had to jump through all these hoops and waste all of this time and energy for your employer to see your worth.
- Familiarity: Changing jobs is very stressful. By staying in your current position, you avoid the fear of the unknown and uncertainty while maintaining the comfort of your current environment. You do however miss out on the excitement as well. It’s worth to be said, the Holmes Rahe Life Changing Index Scale places a professional change in the top 20 of the most stressful things you can do in life.
Rejecting a counteroffer will only further alienate your employer. Your goal is to resign in a manner that leaves no room for a counteroffer to be made in the first place. Go for a direct approach, stating that your decision is firm and final. Leading with an uncertain tone and something along the lines of “I’m considering a new position” will likely sound like you’re trying to leverage another company’s offer to get a better package from your current employer.
If you see that the conversation is still leading towards a counteroffer, clarify that you didn’t start this conversation to force your employer into a bidding war and were presented an opportunity you’ve accepted and that once again, your decision is final. Express your willingness to help during the transition period and ask how you can help during that time.
Be helpful for the transition period and be ready to reasonably accommodate your employer but be firm in your decision.