Counter Offers: Why you should always be prepared for a counter-offer when resigning

You’re over the moon to have accepted a new digital role, and all that stands between you and your next opportunity is your resignation to your boss. After all, you’ve been looking for the right PPC Manager role in-house, and you finally feel that you’ve found it! But then, a huge surprise comes after your employer comes up with a counter-offer to keep you. You’ve been offered a promotion to Digital Marketing Manager, a seat at the best digital conferences this year, and a pay rise! It’s not really something you’d thought about, so it really does present a hard decision.

But, in reality, counter-offers aren’t actually that uncommon – especially in digital and eCommerce. Stats vary, but it’s widely reported that over 50% of employers issue counter-offers following a resignation. It’s also the case that around 80% of those employees who accepted a counter-offer were back on the market within six months – ouch!

Given that so many employees leave their current employer within six months of accepting a counter-offer, we must look at why accepting a counter offer is not always a good idea. Take not of the not always here… we will come back to that later.

It’s worth understanding some of the reasons why businesses make counter-offers in the first place. As an experienced digital marketing professional, it’s likely that you will have a solid grasp of business processes, campaigns, agency relationships, systems, and how to do your job to a high standard. The moment that your employer is faced with replacing you, they then have to invest time, resource and money into training someone else. It’s much more cost effective to offer you a higher salary than to recruit your replacement. It’s the hassle-free option.

Not only that, but in many cases, a business will work with a recruitment agency to find your replacement. With that comes an agency fee; time required for shortlisting applicants, interviewing, and even then, the individual being offered might be requesting a higher salary. All of the uncertainty around replacing your role means that it’s easier to just give you a pay rise.

And finally, a counter-offer might be issued because you are going to be joining a competing business/agency, or a company in a similar industry. You are equipped with the knowledge, process, clients/customers of your current employer – all of which could aid your new employer in gaining a competitive advantage. Now, a pay rise of a few thousand pounds and a new job title pales in comparison to the amount of revenue your current company could lose if you were to take that knowledge and experience elsewhere.

Now that we’ve established some of the potential reasons why your employer would give you a counter-offer. Now if we look at the questions you need to be able to answer on whether accepting a counter-offer is right for you and your career.

  1. Will these changes really materialise?

You’ve had a really honest conversation about why it is you’re moving on, and now promises are being made that there will be lots of changes. Perhaps you were looking for more responsibility, a better flexible working pattern, or even to learn a new skill. Why has it taken until a resignation for your employer to act on these? It’s likely that these current challenges you’re facing will continue. And even if things do change, it’s probable that this will only be for the short-term. And if you’re looking to make a move from agency to in-house or vice versa, it’s unlikely you’re going to suddenly change your mind off the back of a counter-offer.

  • Damaged relationship with employer/manager

Now that your manager knows you were looking for a new role and interviewing elsewhere, you might well find that there’s less trust in your professional relationship now, as your manager knows you’ve resigned once before and could well do so again before long. You may always feel like your manager is checking up on you more often, or not trusting you and your whereabouts.

  • You wanted to leave for a reason

When you’re being counter-offered and lots of changes are being promised, remember what made you want to leave in the first place. The drivers which made you decide to update your CV, start meeting with potential new employers, and accept that new role are still there. This is key if the company culture is behind your reason for looking elsewhere. Is it likely this will actually change?

  • Missed opportunity

You were actually really excited about your new gig. It was a chance to start afresh, and get your teeth stuck into a new challenge. By accepting that counter-offer, you miss the opportunity to learn new skills, processes, and develop your career in a different environment. This is especially important if the driving factor to leave your new role was feeling bored, too in your comfort zone, or stagnant.

  • It’s taken this long….

Something to really think about here. If you have had numerous conversations – whether formally or informally, and have voiced concerns with little or no change – then perhaps it’s a case of too little, too late here. By waiting until you formally resign before offering any changes, then this is a true indicator that you’ve been undervalued by your employer. This is perhaps the most sure-fire sign that the best thing to do is to move on.

Verdict

Many articles will say that you should absolutely never accept a counter-offer. But it’s really not that clear cut. A large proportion of employees will look for a new role before being honest with their current employer and asking for what it is that they want – be that a pay rise, more responsibility, training in a certain area or to be part of that new project. If you have not raised any concerns, your manager will never have the chance to resolve these. Likewise, if issues are around company culture – perhaps it’s worth having a chat with HR first.

At that point, when you feel that you’ve exhausted all avenues and there’s nothing your current employer can do – then, at that point, a counter-offer is unlikely to be the best decision for you.


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