“Not Another Counteroffer”
In the past year, I've noticed an uptick in something that makes recruiters reach for the aspirin: counteroffers.
I suspected (and hoped) it wasn't just me.
Sure enough, when I asked around, other firms also reported seeing more candidates accept job offers—and then stay with their original employer in exchange for a better salary and/or title.
Of course, I wasn't entirely surprised to hear this. Counteroffers are common in an economy with low unemployment, which creates a competitive hiring climate. (Now you know why we always have a back-up plan!)
And although counteroffers cause headaches for those in charge of hiring, they're a successful strategic move. In fact, experts have found that 57% of employees accept counteroffers made to them. Yet for companies poised to lose a valuable employee, they make perfect sense.
In the long run, it's easier and cheaper to pay someone more, or give them a title bump, than to watch them walk out the door with institutional knowledge. Incredibly enough, it costs more than 1.5 times someone's annual compensation to replace a new executive. Plus, when an employee quits, office morale takes a hit, since the current team is burdened with extra work until someone new is in place.
In other words, a counteroffer shouldn't be taken lightly.
I always tell employees thinking of accepting a counteroffer to do some soul-searching, and ask themselves why they were considering other opportunities in the first place. Are you bored with your work? Frustrated with your team? Feeling under-appreciated? Curious what kind of salary you could get elsewhere? Or is ego and vanity clouding your judgment?
After all, a prestigious title might only be a temporary fix to deeper-seated unhappiness. A salary increase also might be a shiny distraction that draws you away from your actual career goals and aspirations.
After all, we have multiple journeys in our life—a career journey, a personal journey, maybe even a religious journey. Does a new job actually augment this journey—or get you closer to where you want to be or what you want to accomplish?
Perhaps even more important, I caution employees not to use counteroffers as coercion or leverage for more money, or a way to gauge their worth in the marketplace. Instead, open the lines of communication and ask your current employer for feedback on your job performance.
Counteroffers (or resignations, for that matter) aren't necessarily always a negative thing. What's most important is examining your motivations for wanting to leave—and making a decision to stay (or go) for the right reasons.
[Related: Plotting Your Corporate Exit Strategy]
Heather Johnson is a Partner with Chartwell Partners.
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