Employers don’t like to see talented employees go. Fact. Selecting and hiring a replacement is expensive and time consuming, and there’s no guarantee that the new person will have the same work ethic. So what’s the alternative? The counter offer.

If you decide to quit, you may well be offered a pay rise or similar improvements to your position to try to get you to stay. Here’s our guide to counter offers and our recommendations on when/if to accept them.

First up it’s worth clarifying that this article doesn’t apply to individuals who pretend to have another job offer and resign, gambling on the fact they’ll be offered a pay rise. This is for people who have been offered a ‘better’ job elsewhere and are about to hand in their notice.

So you’ve just received a job offer and you’re about to walk into your boss’s office and hand in your resignation. Be aware that your boss may well give you a counter offer and try to get you to stay. Knowing this on the way in ensures that you are prepared. Make sure you’ve decided if you would accept a counter offer or not, and stick to that decision.

You may well be faced with arguments like “how am I going to replace you?” and “you’ve left me in a tough position here”. You might also hear the common “you know, I’ve noticed all your hard work recently and had been about to surprise you with a pay rise…” Ignore this. It all comes down to why you wanted to leave in the first place. If you were unhappy in your position/the workplace, a pay rise isn’t going to change anything.

Overall it’s best to stick to your original decision. If it’s only salary that’s an issue then by all means accept a counter offer, but if it’s something else it might not be wise. According to industry reports over 50% of employees who accept a counter offer change employers within the next 2 years.

Furthermore, even if you decide to stay at a company it might not be quite the same. Employers often view people who have accepted counter offers as flight risks and employees often find themselves ostracised from so-called ‘inner circles’. Your boss may be left wondering if your CV is still on the job boards.

Here are our top tips for dealing with counter offers:

  • Decide if you’d be willing to accept a counter offer before you hand in your letter of resignation
  • Be prepared for your boss to try to persuade you to stay
  • Stick to your decision

You might also be interested in our How to Resign article.