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Should you accept that counteroffer?

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 years ago

About half of all employees who resign get a counteroffer to encourage them to remain with the current company. This is especially true of high-demand fields like software engineering, where companies are desperate to retain talent and many employees are desperate for a better deal.

Although over half of those who receive counteroffers accept them, most–around 80%, Forbes reports–go on to leave anyway within six months of the acceptance. Which begs the question, is accepting a counteroffer worth it? Here are some factors to consider before signing:

1. Your reasons for leaving in the first place

Unless you stand to inherit a vast fortune, a higher salary is a huge temptation to anyone who has any desire to retire someday. That goes without saying. But don't let it cloud your judgement–sacrificing your younger years to a job that makes you miserable doesn't necessarily pay off in the long term.

If the job feels dead-end, if the stress is impacting your health, if the culture is so toxic you feel like you'll need years of therapy from that alone? It's Not Worth It. Consider what you can put up with to meet your financial goals, but don't kid yourself that you can put up with anything.

2. What would make you change your mind

If there's a specific number that would make all the difference in your life--if a little extra would let you buy a home, pursue a dream side business, or send your kids to the best school in your city--it can't hurt you now to name it. The flip side of "money can't buy happiness when your job is making you miserable" is "money can buy things that change your life, or your family's lives, and that's nothing to sneeze at–especially when you've got nothing to lose."

3. The short-term impact

There's another thing to consider, which is that accepting a counteroffer and then moving on in a year or so isn't necessarily bad. There's a small chance it could get you a reputation for being hard to retain, but that can be fixed with a good networking strategy. Again, if the short-term financial reward of staying for even a short time will make a big difference in your life, it's worth considering.

4. The long-term impact

On the other hand, if you've got a great opportunity with another company that seems more willing to train, promote, and support you, it might be better to jump–even if it means a pay cut in the immediate. Exponential growth throughout your career is the easiest way to ensure your future is secure and comfortable, even if it means you have to wait to buy a nicer car.

5. Whether your employer can keep their promises

If your counteroffer comes with non-salary-related promises, look back on past leadership behaviour: is a company that promised to open a promotion opportunity within a year, and then didn't, REALLY going to expand your responsibilities and mentor you in new skills? And if you accept and leadership doesn't keep their end of the deal in full, you're within your rights to take the money and walk.

6. Whether the counteroffer is proactive or reactive

Often, a counteroffer is basically a panic response: employers want to retain their talent and say (and pay) what they have to to keep them.

A good counteroffer is considered, proactive, and sustainable. It will be clear that it makes sense–both for you and for your employer.