Why You Should Say NO to a Counteroffer

By Robert Half on February 1, 2017 at 5:00pm

It's not a good idea to accept a counteroffer from your current employer when you've already accepted an offer with another employer. That's not just true for finance and accounting professionals. It's universal.

As tempting as it may be to jump at a salary increase and additional employee perks at a new firm, sticking with your current position when you've been given a counteroffer can lead to more problems than if you were to get a new start. Despite your employer's seemingly genuine attempt to keep you as a valuable member of the team, that worth could diminish quickly if you decide to stay on.

Why? Counteroffers often result from employers' suspicions that they may be losing an especially talented employee. There's something that another company sees in you, so you are worth investing in a little more. However, this does not necessarily mean the luster will last, and rejecting a job offer from a new firm could be detrimental to your future opportunities.

In a new Robert Half survey, 58 percent of senior managers across a variety of professional fields said they extended counteroffers to keep employees from leaving for another job.

The downside of 'almost' leaving

Although your employer may seem happy to retain you as an employee, you could be seen as the one who almost got away. When a promotion opportunity arises, you may be one of the last people considered, because your employer won't be sure if and when you'll be putting in your two weeks' notice again.

Your status as a potential deserter could also be a mitigating factor if the company needs to make layoffs. Unlike the seemingly loyal employees who appear to be team players, you were already dissatisfied, so you could be more vulnerable to a cutback.

It may be only a matter of time

What may appear to be a sweet deal could actually be just a temporary solution on your employer's end. There's a chance the company is only offering you more favorable terms until it can find someone else who can take over your responsibilities. Once your employer locates a replacement to fill your role, you may be expendable.

The survey also shows that employees who accept counteroffers typically stay only two more years at the company.

Are you worried about being seen as a job-hopper? There are some benefits to making successive career moves.

How much were you really worth?

Considering the fact you had to accept another offer to get more favorable terms with your employer, your value may not have been truly recognized. If your employer noticed your talents as a necessary part of your accounting firm's team, you would have been able to negotiate long ago for any additional perks.

Make sure you're up to date on the salary ranges for your position and in your region.

Rejecting a job offer could burn bridges

You run the risk of severing ties with the other firm by rejecting their job offer. If things still don't work out with your current employer after you accept the counteroffer, and you're looking to change jobs, the new company may not be inclined to give you another chance.

A good amount of time went into interviewing and selecting you, and they would have to go through the process again if you turn down the offer.

Putting your own needs first

When delivering a counteroffer, employers are more often concerned with fulfilling the company's own needs than they are improving your job satisfaction. To be fair, however, your company may have just been not paying attention and took it for granted that you were happy in your role. Still, you need to do what's necessary to get ahead in your career. Opt for the business that knows your worth.

Is it really all about the money?

Even if the salary increase was the main reason you were ready to leave, using a counteroffer as a means of upping your pay does not provide sufficient cause to stay. In most cases, there are other factors at play that made you feel like leaving, whether they included unresponsive management, unfavorable working conditions or burnout in your job.

Not only does more money not change your situation — such as how much you're appreciated or your work-life balance — but money probably isn't the only reason you wanted to leave. Counteroffers can be flattering and even tempting, but the risks outweigh the rewards. Leave on good terms. You may be able to return later, if that's your best option.


5 Reasons to Think Twice About Extending a Salary Counteroffer Infographic


Senior managers across a variety of professional fields were asked, “Do you ever extend counteroffers to employees to keep them from leaving for another job?”

58% said YES

Senior managers were also asked, “How long do employees who accept counteroffers typically remain with your company?”

The average response was: less than 2 years

Those who extended counteroffers were asked why they’d want to retain an employee who is choosing to leave.

Top responses:*

  Don’t want to lose institutional knowledge of employee: 58%
  Don’t want to spend time or money hiring a replacement: 42%
  Don’t want rest of team to absorb extra workload: 35%
  Don’t want morale of team to suffer: 34%

*Multiple responses were permitted.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 5,500 hiring decision makers in the United States across a variety of professional fields, including finance and accounting, technology, legal, advertising and marketing, and human resources.

© 2018 Robert Half International Inc. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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