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Counter Offers: Should You Accept One?

Q:  I’ve accepted a new offer with company offering me an excellent promotion, increase in salary and good benefits. However, when I attempted to turn in my resignation my boss responded with an incredible counter offer that included a promotion and a new salary higher than the other companies’. What should I do?

A:  You should say “Thanks, but no thanks” and look forward to your new opportunity. Recent studies show that of those who accept counteroffers, 85 percent have left the company within 6 months, and 90 percent have left within a year. A generous estimate of the number who stay longer than a year is from 2 to 3 percent.

Here are the reasons not to look back:

  • Many people really leave a job because of a personality rift, limited advancement opportunity, or nonfulfilling work. How will a financially generous counteroffer fix these problems?
  • Isn’t it ironic that this new promotion or raise within your present company only came available after you threatened to leave for another opportunity. Do you really want to work for a company that is reactive in nature? Probably the best antidote to the flattery of a counteroffer is to ask yourself: “What has really changed? Have the drawbacks that made me want to leave in the first place all been eliminated? And if all these good things were already planned, why did I have to resign to find out about them?”
  • Your company may counteroffer merely as a temporary tactic and begin looking immediately for your replacement. An employer’s comments in St. Louis-based The Fordyce Letter, a leading national publication for the employment industry, illustrate the loss of trust: “If it will cost me $20,000 or $30,000 to replace a good employee and only $10,000 to make the person happy enough to stay, I’ll make that counteroffer. But I’ll keep my eyes open for a replacement and that person is no longer a part of my inner circle.”
  • Renewing your enthusiasm can be an uphill challenge. In making the decision to accept another offer, you’ve already counted up all the things you hate about your present whereabouts. As time goes on, these negatives will haunt your mind like a pesky tune.
  • Remember it is always easier to stay within your comfort zone (familiar job, people, location) than to take a chance on what is most likely a much better situation. Don’t be motivated by the fear of change.
  • So with all that to consider, the best solution is turn in your resignation and never look back.