The Scary Truth: 9 out of 10 People Regret Accepting Counteroffers

March 22nd, 2011 | Counteroffers | 2 Comments »


A previous article about counteroffers received an interesting comment, which we felt was worthy of inspiring a more in-depth discussion about counteroffers.

When it comes to counteroffers, the simple rule and most valuable piece of advice is that counteroffers should not be accepted once the decision to look for a new job has been made. One reader had a different opinion, saying, “I don’t believe your advice holds true for those who are looking [for a new job] primarily because of compensation dissatisfaction.”

The reader’s reasoning for this was that corporate policies often limit raises and bonuses, even when an employee merits it. His solution was to go out and find a better offer to prove your worth to your current company. “The tactic has paid off handsomely,” the reader finished.

Which left us wondering, was this reader an exception to the rule or could his tactic really work on a wide scale? We asked the experts.

Jeff Garton, best selling author of Career Contentment, made us aware of the scary truth that “up to 90% of people who accept a counteroffer ultimately leave within six months.” If your reasons for finding a new job were money-related and your current company only offers you more money upon your potential resignation, it’s hard not to ask yourself, “why weren’t they paying you that amount before?”

Cheryl Heisler, President of Lawternatives Career Consulting for Professionals, agrees with Garton that counteroffers lead to a lot of doubt. “If you weren’t sufficiently valued beforehand to pay up,” Heisler commented, “why is it that your value only increases after someone else notices you?” She adds that it is important to remember that ultimately, “no one is irreplaceable… You play a dangerous game when you use one offer to elicit a counteroffer from your current employer.”

Elene Cafasso President of Enerpace, Inc, Executive & Personal Coaching, offers three quick reasons why counteroffers are not the way to go. First, she says, “your old employer now knows that you will entertain outside opportunities and may feel it’s only a matter of time until you are ready to leave again.”

Secondly, Cafasso adds, “you may be considered ‘tainted goods’ now – not committed at best and a disloyal traitor at worst… Raises and bonuses will be much harder to obtain going forward since you got this “emergency” money now to stay.”

“It’s career suicide,” Cafasso finishes, explaining that if you accept a counteroffer after making a commitment to a new offer, “LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook make it easy to spread news in your industry that you do not honor your commitments.”

Finally, expert Debra Yergen, author of Creating Job Security Resource Guide, concludes the subject nicely, saying that, “counteroffers are rarely the beginning of a long and happy employer-employee relationship.”

Yergen believes that counteroffers, if handled well on both sides, can lead to success for both parties. However, “transparency is the key,” she adds, and this is where 90% of accepted counteroffers fall apart down the road. “Both parties have to be open and honest about where they really stand… Money is rarely at the root of [the problem],” she continues; “The biggest factors at the heart of this discussion are job stagnation, job dissatisfaction, and employees who feel overworked or taken advantage of.”

And it is for these reasons that Jeff Garton says, “Counteroffers temporarily soothe your anxiety about leaving, but once that peace wears off, you realize your problems are still there.” Ultimately, then it seems our reader is most likely a rare exception to a very solid rule.

What do you think?

Clare Saumell – Marketing Director at Ashley Ellis

2 Responses to “The Scary Truth: 9 out of 10 People Regret Accepting Counteroffers”

  1. Vince says:

    I agree. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that I have to manipulate into getting paid fair value. If I’m unhappy enough to look elsewhere, I’ll stick with that decision.

  2. Laura says:

    I accepted a counteroffer–not for money, but for a part-time job. I didn’t even think my company would allow me to go part-time, then when I found out I was wrong, I took the offer…dreading this decision after everything I’ve read, but I still feel like it will turn out ok. I never technically accepted the other job, so they weren’t given a false lead, so I don’t need to worry about that. Only time will tell…