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Nail the counter offer

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​In this candidate-led market, when a valued employee intends to move on, it’s no surprise that many employers consider making a counter offer in order to retain their services.

But how do you decide whether making a counter offer is the right thing to do?


Firstly, it is important to understand the employee’s motivations for looking for alternative roles. 

A recent survey conducted by Jonathan Lee Recruitment showed that there are a variety of factors that influence the decision to move on. Salary is rarely the sole driver. Employees can be enticed away by job content and more challenging work, remuneration and benefits, greater recognition of skills, abilities and contribution, better personal and career development opportunities, dissatisfaction with a manager or the business culture. 

Unless you understand the key drivers for the employee, it’s impossible to know whether a counter offer will truly address the underlying reasons for the move.


Our experience shows that more than 80% of people who accept a counter offer still go on to leave the business within 12 months of their initial resignation. 

The explanation for this is simple. Most people are anxious about change and therefore when a current employer offers more money and tells them that they are really wanted or that the things that frustrate them will change, they are often tempted to stay with the familiar. 

However, if the employer can then not deliver on the promises made, or addressing the issues was not reasonable or achievable in the first place, it may well be best to part ways sooner rather than later.


However flattering, a counter offer is often regarded by the outgoing employee as a belated recognition of their value and contribution in response to the threat of losing their skills.  This can often leave a sour taste.  Why does it take a third party to recognise their worth before you do?  Make sure that any counter offer is perceived positively and will not cause future problems.

You also need to consider the effects on other employees; if they see a colleague receiving a promotion, pay rise or increased benefits as a direct result of handing in their notice, might they follow suit?


How do you decide what to do? Here are some questions to stop and ask yourself:

  • Will the situation here really improve just because I said I was leaving?

  • If I stay, will my loyalty be suspect and affect my chance for advancement?

  • The pay rise makes me very expensive for the job I am now in. How will that affect any future rises or external prospects?

  • I received this counter offer because I resigned, will I have to do that the next time I think I am ready for a pay rise or promotion?

In a sector as competitive as engineering, if you have great people that you want to keep, make sure you have a plan! Regular communication, succession planning, career development plans, new reward schemes are all ways in which a supportive employer can ensure staff feel motivated, understand their motivations and ambitions and keep them engaged for the long term. Action is always more positive than reaction…

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