Looking for new work is stressful enough without the counteroffer curveball that your current employer just threw at you. They’ve offered you a pay wage better than your new employer—should you accept it or continue progressing towards that unique career opportunity?
It is not recommended to accept a counteroffer from your current employer if you are not satisfied with your workplace or want to progress in your career. However, if you have good working relationships and you’re being offered a big pay raise, staying with your current employer might be a great option.
The rest of this article will discuss how to respond to a counteroffer by exploring questions relating to happiness in the work environment, future goals, and wages. We’ll also get into why these things are so important and what the statistics say about the acceptance or rejection of counteroffers.
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Let’s Look at the Stats
A nationwide survey from HBR found that almost half of senior executives did not recommend accepting a counteroffer, claiming that it would negatively impact the course of their careers. When you accept a counteroffer, you’re subtly giving off the message that you can be persuaded with money, resulting in your employers questioning your loyalty and trustworthiness.
The stats also show that those who accept counteroffers often leave the workplace in a matter of months for many reasons, including strained working relationships, conditions that don’t improve, lack of trust amongst management and supervisory teams, and more.
Since most counteroffers don’t work out in the long term and you were choosing to leave your job in the first place, accepting the counteroffer seems counterintuitive. However, suppose you are confident that you can maintain appropriate reputations and relationships with your colleagues and are satisfied with the conditions of your current job. In that case, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try.
Consider talking to a neutral family member or friend about your options, or use someone as a sounding board. Once you make a decision, you can feel confident knowing that you thoroughly inspected the two choices and are making the one that is best for you. You should also have a detailed conversation with your management team about why you’re making your chosen decision.
How To Respond to a Counter Offer From My Current Employer
Never rush into accepting or rejecting a counteroffer. Always consider your options carefully and why you’ve found yourself in this situation. It can be overwhelming at first, but start with taking a few deep breaths and considering a few different things to help inform your decision.
Career progression, pay raise, and life in the current workplace are all areas of your career that you should take into account before making any big decisions. One of the easiest ways to scratch the surface is to create a pros-and-cons list. Here, the good and bad are concretely outlined, helping you process the decision.
Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s a standard interview question that I used to think was total bologna—but in this context, it’s incredibly useful. If you have no immediate plans to climb the ladder of success, or staying in your current position at your current job location is comfortable, then by all means consider accepting the counteroffer!
However, if you think you’d like to be elsewhere in your career a few years down the road, perhaps the new employment offer is an open door of opportunity. Combine that with the following few factors, and you may find yourself pursuing a different path than the current one.
Life in and Out of the Workplace
How is your life in the workplace? Do you have pleasant coworking relationships? A safe and tolerable work environment? Do you feel, at the very least, neutral when going into the office? Or do you dread it at the start of every shift? Looking at your life in the workplace is critical to consider whether or not to take a counteroffer.
Suppose you’re comfortable wherever you are in your career. You’ve got lovely coworkers, you feel safe, and the job is both convenient and tolerable—hard to come across these days! Perhaps with fair pay, it would make more sense for you to accept the counteroffer and stay with your current employment.
This is especially true when life outside of the workplace is unstable. Changing jobs in the middle of a crisis at home or in the community can be overwhelming. Accepting a counteroffer can help maintain a little more stability in your life, acting as an anchor.
On the flip side, let’s say your life in the workplace is subpar. You have few stable working relationships, insecure management, or generally find yourself to be quite stressed when at work. Let’s suppose this is all a result of the environment—not of the type of work being done.
On top of that, you’re interested in a change of pace. You want to advance in your career and don’t necessarily see yourself working for the same company five years down the line. In this case, rejecting the counteroffer and seeking employment elsewhere might be the better solution.
It’s important to remember here that no job will be perfect. You should never strive for a perfect job. The reality is that every place of employment will have unique strengths and weaknesses, and the illusion that your new job could be better in every way is dangerous. Try to stay neutral and objective about both job opportunities.
Finally, the most interesting question of them all is: what are the financial conditions of the counteroffer? While you shouldn’t necessarily chase the highest bidder, it’s important to recognize when your skills are being underpaid. With rising inflation, low wages significantly affect one’s quality of life.
It can be incredibly difficult to justify improper wages for the quantity and quality of work being done, but it’s even harder to justify great salaries in a terrible work environment.
Think of it this way– if your work environment is comfortable, you’re happy with your career advancement, and the counteroffer is better than the original, there’s a lot to be said about those positive factors.
In contrast, if you don’t enjoy or feel safe in the work environment and you want to move up in your career but the counteroffer offers better payment, you should ask yourself the question: by how much? Is the counteroffer a 25-cent raise off the new employer? Is it worth risking the other two factors?
In the end, you should do whatever works best for you. However, when you notice more pros than cons to leaving your place of employment, you shouldn’t ignore them. When things don’t feel right, it’s likely because they aren’t, and it’s up to you to make the necessary changes to better your life.
Remember that a slightly better salary isn’t worth the negative effects that a bad workplace can bring on you. If you’re not convinced about that, you can read my article on 5 common psychological effects of hating your job.
A counteroffer is meant to extend your terms of employment. However, without improved conditions (assuming some conditions need to be improved), accepting the gig isn’t necessarily worth the extra money and doesn’t always pan out the way you hoped.
Either way, it’s a decision that requires careful consideration about the work environment, the opportunities to advance, and whether the pay accurately reflects the work you’re offering.
Additionally, the new job should have all the great qualities you’re looking for before turning down a potentially stable counteroffer.
- Harvard Business Review: If You’re About to Take a New Job, Should You Consider Your Boss’s Counteroffer?
- Change Recruitment Group: Why You Should and Should NOT Accept a Counteroffer