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Almost 50% of employers counteroffer an employee's resignation. With more than 50% of employees accepting, it can be an effective tactic for employers to retain their staff. It can also make for an awkward and confusing time for you as it adds another decision to the many that led you to your current situation.

How do you handle a counteroffer?

Firstly, request time to consider. Even if you know that you will reject the offer, it shows respect to your employer and will help you maintain a network connection that could be useful to you later down the line. 

There are questions you can ask yourself to gauge your feelings towards the offer and ascertain whether it's worth accepting:

  1. Are you resigning simply for a higher salary but are otherwise content in your role? 
  2. If you have been offered a promotion or additional responsibilities, why did it take a resignation for your value to be noticed?
  3. How will your relationship with your current employer change if you decide to stay on?
  4. Who do you think you could have the best working relationship with, your current employer or your new employer?
  5. Could you progress more and earn more with an external move than you could by staying with your current company?

What is usually included in a counteroffer?

There is no list outlining what will be included in a counteroffer; however, some of the incentives may include:

  • Higher salary
  • Altered responsibilities
  • Better employee package
  • Promotion

Why would an employer make a counteroffer?

There are two reasons why a counteroffer may be made following your resignation:

  1. You are a valued employee, and they don’t want to lose you
  2. The process of rehiring and retraining is too expensive and time-consuming

If you've been at the company for a long time, you may be able to calculate which is most likely the case. While you may want to believe that you are valued, the fact that you looked elsewhere for employment may hint at the latter.

When should you take a counteroffer?

If you are seeking other employment simply to obtain a salary increase and are otherwise happy in your role, a counteroffer that includes higher pay may be worth taking. Similarly, a counteroffer could be acceptable if your motive for seeking a position elsewhere is to negotiate your current employment package.

You should prepare yourself for things to feel or be different even if you accept the offer. Once an employer knows that you have sought a role elsewhere, they may believe that you could do so again later down the line. It's essential to weigh up the risk of being treated differently and the risk of being let go if there is an internal reshuffle.

When should you reject the offer?

90% of individuals who accept a counteroffer resign again within a year, 60% within eight months and 80% within six months. In addition to the questions already stated, take time to reflect on your experience with the company. Has it been mostly good or bad? Are there actions that can be taken that will resolve the problems that led you to look elsewhere? If so, how likely is it that these actions will be taken?

At the same time, think about your latest job offer. Does it excite you more than your current situation? Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with a company, yet your daily activities just don’t excite you anymore. If there is no way for your company to move you onto a project that you can find a fresh passion in, the only option is to look elsewhere.

You will know from the answers to these questions whether you are leaning towards rejecting the offer. And if you are still finding yourself confused, try creating a pro-con list so that you have tangible evidence as to whether or not it’s time to move on.

How do you politely decline a counteroffer?

If you decide to decline, thank them for the offer and your experience with the company before reaffirming your decision to leave. It is worth stating that you are dedicated to making the transition as smooth as possible. 

Unfortunately, there's no easy answer, and a counteroffer should be seriously considered. At MRL, we operate with our candidate's best interest at heart; therefore, if you are unsure about how to respond, we are more than happy to listen and advise as best we can.

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