Should I Or Shouldn't I?

Should I or shouldn't I? Beware of Counter Offers

Today’s job market in Healthcare is one where demand for staff is greater than the supply. This can result in a greater choice for jobseekers and that they have a slight power advantage in the recruitment game. Counter-Offers are always evident to some degree in any job market but they seem to be more common in a skills-shortage job market. Counter-Offers if handled badly can prove disastrous for the employee. This article will help explain the concept of the counter-offer, outline the potential pitfalls of accepting such an offer and examine how to handle them.

What is a counter-offer?

The simplest definition of a counter-offer is an inducement from your current employer to get you to stay after you have announced your intention to take another position. A counter-offer may come in many forms such as additional holidays, perks, the promise of promotion, additional responsibilities but most commonly a counter-offer takes the form of a salary increase. Counter-offers often come accompanied with flattery such as how valuable you are to the company, how important you are to the team and that you have been earmarked for promotion.


Why you should never accept a counter-offer?

When you hand in your notice all too often, employers do seem sorry – suddenly they are offering the salary, promotion prospects and recognition for your contribution that they had refused to grant before. Of course they're sorry but for purely selfish reasons. You're about to leave on your timing and not theirs. There is an understaffed department and a lot of work to be done, which they were counting on you to complete. Remember you have just fired your boss, when he or she would prefer to have the right to fire you. You have created a vacancy, which they will need to fill at some expense and difficulty. If you weren't a terrific person, they wouldn't have hired you in the first place.

I am not going to say that counter-offers are not appealing as they can be very appealing. But that is their purpose of a Counter-Offer to play on the self-doubt everyone experiences when faced with changing jobs. Before you cave into the promises and flattery consider the following;

** Statistics are not in your favor. Research has shown that 4 out of 5 people who accept counter-offers are gone within the year. Employers realise that the counter-offer is a short-term solution and they are already planning for your exit the moment you accept a counter-offer.

** Most counter-offers are financial but a salary increase won't permanently cushion thorns in the nest. It is always great to get a salary increase but you will soon realise that the reasons which drove you to leave in the first place haven’t gone away. Employers often make promises that they can’t keep and things will soon slip back to the way they were.

** You have broken that bond you had with your employer/manager. You have gone behind their back and flirted with another company and your loyalty is now in question. If you stay - Will you be given responsibility for future projects? Will you be considered for future promotions? Will you be the first to go if cutbacks arise?

** Surprisingly, the very best companies rarely make counter-offers. They believe they treat their employees fairly and wish them well if a better opportunity exists elsewhere. If you work for one of them, don't be disappointed if you fail to receive a counter-offer. If your company makes you a counter-offer you need to ask yourself why it took the threat of leaving to get your true worth.

** Leaving familiar territory for unknown employment pastures is a testing time. Employers realise this and play on this. They play on your emotions. The reality is that accepting a counter-offer is being bought. It can show that you possibly never wanted to go or lack the strength and courage to follow through with decisions.

Managing Counter-Offers.

It is important to be strong and take charge of the situation. Be clear about the reasons why you are leaving and that your new opportunity offers you what you want. Be clear that you are making the right decision and communicate this accordingly. Some tips include;

  1. Put your resignation in writing and hand it to your direct boss. This makes everything formal and a resignation in writing is stronger than a verbal approach.
  2. Explain to your employer that you don’t want a counter-offer and that you hope instead for an amicable departure.
  3. Explain that you've carefully weighed up the pros and cons of the two positions and have chosen the new one.
  4. Avoid the temptation to list your grievances with the company. This serves no purpose other than to provide your employer with ammunition for a counter-offer.


To quit or not to quit is often a gut-wrenching decision for most employees. It involves change and upheaval and abandoning the comfort of the old and assuming the risk of the new. Counter-Offers can complicate and make moving an even more difficult experience. Over the past several years, I have seen only isolated incidents in which an accepted counter-offer has benefited the employee. With this in mind I firmly stand by the following advice.

First, never play games with your employer and go to the market to get another job offer to force them into offering a pay rise or other benefit as this is a dangerous game. It will backfire. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day; just give it time.