Why You Should And Should NOT Accept A Counteroffer?

You decided to leave your job. Perhaps you were frustrated by the way management was handling things, didn’t see a roadmap for career progression, or simply couldn’t survive on your salary any longer.

Your decision was final – or so you thought. Your boss found out about your plan, and they presented you with a counteroffer to entice you to stay.

All of a sudden, you are faced with a dilemma. Should you proceed with your original plan, or should you accept the counteroffer and stay at your job?

What Is a Counteroffer?

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So, what is a counteroffer? A counteroffer is an offer your current employer makes when they find out you are planning to leave and quit your job.

The counteroffer usually comes in the form of an offer for an increased salary. Your employer might give you that promotion or raise you always wanted to incentivize you to stay with the firm instead of moving on.

A counteroffer can often present quite a dilemma, especially if the main reason you were planning to leave was due to insufficient finances. However, one of the main reasons counteroffers present such a quandary is due to emotional reasons.

You may feel like you have some sort of obligation to your current company out of a sense of loyalty. Your employer may very well play on your emotions and feelings, telling you how they need you and can’t do without you.

It’s all very manipulative, but it can be enough to make you feel guilty and second-guess your decision, even if you were pretty sure of it beforehand. The thoughts might be swirling around in your head, and you may go back and forth from one decision to another.

That’s what we are here for today. In this article, I will help you think more logically about your decision, so you can make the decision that is actually best for you – not your employer.

I will explain why you should probably not accept the counteroffer except in some unique cases. Most of the time, your original decision (to leave the firm and move on) was the right one.

Let’s get into it.

Also Read: Red Flags In A Job Interview – Warning Signs of a Bad Employer

When You Should Not Accept a Counteroffer?

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Most of the time, you should not accept a counteroffer. Accepting a counteroffer is not usually in your favor; it actually favors your boss more than it does you.

Also Read: How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Expectations”?

It Doesn’t Solve the Issue

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If there are underlying issues causing you to leave your job, ask yourself if the counteroffer will actually solve them. There is a reason so many people end up quitting their jobs anyway after accepting a counteroffer.

The extra money might be enticing, especially if it is more money than what you would get at that other position you were planning to accept. However, is it worth it?

Think carefully about which underlying issues were causing you to quit. It could be mismanagement, abusive managers or coworkers, too much stress, etc.

Will the counteroffer really change anything? Or would you be faced with the same issues as before, just this time, with some extra cash in your pocket?

You Are Unhappy

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If you are unhappy with your current job, the likelihood is that you will continue to be disappointed, even if you accept the counteroffer. A little extra money can make you a bit less stressed, but overall, it won’t change much.

Your happiness is the most important thing, and if you are not satisfied with how things are going, I would not recommend taking that counteroffer.

Management Is Terrible

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If the management sucks, it probably won’t improve anytime soon, whether you get an acceptable counteroffer or not. If there are deep-rooted problems in the way the management and HR approach issues, can they really change?

Will they change? Have they expressed any interest in changing, and have they shown, through their actions, that they are serious about it?

Empty promises are just that – empty promises. If the way the company is run is rotten to the core, and it has been that way long enough to make you want to quit, I doubt things will really change anytime soon unless the entire management changes or the company gets a new owner.

Also Read: How To Ask About Salary In Email Before Interview?

The Work Environment Is Toxic, or You Hate Your Coworkers

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A work environment can be toxic due to various reasons. Perhaps the boss is abusive, or maybe your teammates don’t support each other and instead gossip about each other or stab each other in the back.

A workplace can become toxic due to an environment of sexism, casual racism, misogyny, or xenophobia.

You might also feel like it’s toxic if your managers are constantly pushing you to do more, such as to work overtime. Perhaps they continually call you after hours to discuss work and ask you to get things done when you should be relaxing, not allowing for a healthy work-life balance.

You might be feeling burnt out and unable to continue.

Or, perhaps, you simply hate your coworkers for any other reason. Maybe you strongly disagree with their political views or simply don’t get along with them.

In either case, it might be hard to imagine that things can change. Even if your boss realizes there is a problem and presents you with a counteroffer, that doesn’t mean your teammates will change – most likely, they will not.

Management would really need to lead from the top down and implement changes and ensure everyone is on board. Not only that, but they would have to enforce those changes.

Simply expecting the management to change when they constantly overwork you or micromanage you at every step of the way might be a pipe dream.

That’s just the way some bosses are, and while they might extend an olive branch and act a bit nicer than usual for a few weeks, they will likely revert to their old habits in no time at all.

They Don’t Really Value You (They Just Want to Save Money)

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One of the most important things to consider when thinking about whether you should accept a counteroffer is the motivation behind the counteroffer. Why are they offering you a better salary or any other incentive that comes with the counteroffer package?

Is it because they suddenly realized how valuable you were to the team and that they couldn’t do without you? Is it because your boss likes you so much as a person and doesn’t want to see you go?

Probably not. The truth might hurt, but the main reason your boss is offering you this counteroffer is most likely purely financial.

It costs a lot of money to onboard new employees. Firstly, there is the hiring process, which involves listing the job on various job boards or putting up classified ads in the job sections of local newspapers.

That costs money, and it also requires time and effort to sift through all the applicants, most of whom will probably not be a good fit for the company. They will have to analyze resumes, follow up on references, and then finally invite a select few applicants for interviews.

Interviewing various candidates also takes time. Finally, once they have decided to hire someone, their job is not yet over.

They have to invest in training the new employee and showing them the ropes. Training can cost money, and throughout the learning curve, when the new employee is still learning how to do things, they won’t be as productive as you could have been – after all, you already know how to do everything properly.

The story doesn’t end just yet. Sometimes, new employees will turn out to be bad employees who don’t fit with the company culture, have horrible work ethics, or simply are bad at what they are supposed to do.

Sometimes, they will have to fire the new employee and look for someone else, restarting the entire process all over again.

As you can see, your boss might dread the work ahead of them if they have to hire someone new. It would cost them less to simply pay you a little more instead of hiring someone else – they don’t care about you, they care about the company’s bottom line and their own pockets.

So, before you start feeling guilty about leaving the company due to some sort of sense of loyalty, ask yourself whether your feelings might be misplaced. Don’t let your employer manipulate you into feeling bad about taking a step that is right for you.

Also Read: Constructive Criticism Examples In The Workplace

Your Loyalty Will Always Be in Question

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Another thing you might not have thought about is that your loyalty to the company will always be in question. The issue of job insecurity after getting a counteroffer is something that many people don’t expect.

Your position at the company will never be the same. You can’t undo what you did – planning to quit.

Your employer might give you a counteroffer because it is beneficial to them, but they might not be able to trust you as well as before, always suspecting you might decide to finally leave anyway. It might be subtle, but you might feel it going forward.

Having mutual respect, trust, and loyalty is essential. You don’t want to work at a job where you feel insecure about it.

You Will Always Wonder What Could Have Happened

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There will always be a what-if if you decide to accept the counteroffer. Can you live with that?

If things don’t work out at your current job after accepting the counteroffer, you might think back and wish you had not taken it and simply moved on with your plan to get the other job.

However, even if things are kind of decent, you might still have a lot of what-ifs in your mind. What if you changed jobs?

Sure, it would probably have involved some sort of learning curve and a bit of difficulty at the beginning. However, would things have turned out much better for you in the long run?

Sometimes, plunging into the unknown is better than being afraid to leave your comfort zone and forever not knowing what could have been. It’s just one more thing you should consider when deciding whether or not to accept the counteroffer.

Also Read: Destructive Criticism Examples & How To Handle

You Are Preventing Yourself From Career Progression

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If your current job offered actual opportunities for career advancement, you most likely would have stayed, even if the pay isn’t currently the best.

Now that you got a counteroffer, you might be thinking that the new payment would be good enough to make you stay. However, is there a genuine and viable path for career advancement in your current workplace?

You might be hurting yourself in the long run by not switching to a company that offers better advancement opportunities in the future. Think about the long-term picture before deciding that staying with your current job is actually the best move.

You Are Simply Afraid of Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Don’t let this be a reason to accept a counteroffer. I get it – you are comfortable in your current job.

You might not like all of your coworkers, but at least you know them well. You do the same commute every day, and you leave the house and come back home at the same time every day.

You know the area where your current office is and the best spots to grab a coffee or sandwich during lunch hour. You like the tea in the coffee room and have that one coworker who you always enjoy chatting with.

It’s hard to move jobs. You will have to get to know new people and adjust to a new work environment, probably with new rules and expectations and a different style of leadership.

You may even have to move to a new apartment or city entirely, depending on the offer you received. If you have to relocate for that new job, it can be even more terrifying.

However, that’s not a good enough reason to stay.

You Might Want to Resign Again Soon, and the Other Option May No Longer Be There

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This can be a tough pill to swallow, but there is an oft-cited statistic that might shock you – 80 percent of people who accept a counteroffer proceed to quit anyway within six months.

The reality is that most people who accept a counteroffer do not stick with it for any significant period of time. The reasons for that are all that I mentioned above:

  • There were underlying issues that an increase in salary could not fix.
  • They were unhappy and continued to be unhappy.
  • Any promises of change went unfulfilled.
  • Their coworkers continued to be a pain in the neck.
  • They realized that they were missing out on better opportunities.

It doesn’t really matter why, but you probably will be second-guessing your decision to accept that counteroffer within a few months or less.

However, at that point in time, the opportunity you could have accepted will likely be long gone, fulfilled by some other candidate.

If the job market in your industry is very competitive, and your skills don’t make you in high demand, is it really worth passing up on a good opportunity due to a counteroffer?

You Are Being Given Empty Promises

Most likely, you are being given empty promises. If management really wanted to change, they would have a long time ago, when you first voiced your concerns (hopefully, you did).

Bosses are like politicians. They will promise a lot of things to get you to stay (or vote for them in the case of a politician), but once they get what they want, all those promises go out the window.

Besides, it sets a bad precedent. If you see that the promises are not being delivered, you will feel frustrated and lied to.

You will no longer trust your boss to do anything, and you might now have no choice but to soldier on until you can again find some other opportunity. You will feel like you have to threaten to leave in order to get your boss to take any action, and it’s just not the kind of working relationship that is good to have.

Also Read: Bad Company Culture Examples

When to Accept a Counteroffer?

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Of course, there are no hard and fast rules. Most of the time, accepting a counteroffer won’t be to your advantage, but there are times when you should accept it.

Your Finances Were the Only Thing Causing You to Leave

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Sometimes, everything seems perfect about a job. You love your work, you get along really well with your coworkers, management is excellent, the job allows for flexible vacation days or lets you work from home sometimes, etc.

The only downside? The pay simply isn’t enough to survive with the ever-increasing costs of living, forcing you to look for a better-paying opportunity.

If your salary was the only thing wrong with the position, and your boss has agreed to give you a raise that satisfies you and allows you to live more comfortably, you might very well decide to stay.

There’s no longer any reason to leave, after all. Why go to another job where you might not get along with your coworkers or enjoy yourself?

Also Read: How To Ask For Your Salary Politely In An Interview?

Your Employer Is Doing Other Things to Improve the Workplace Environment

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Most of the time, management won’t be very receptive to your suggestions for change. There are some rare cases, though, when they actively listen to your feedback and try to fix things.

They might hire new supervisors or simply implement new policies to address the concerns you raised.

However, to ensure they are not empty promises, it is vital that they take actionable steps to change things. Simply promising to implement new policies is not enough.

You Are Getting Other Perks, Such as Extra Vacation Time

There may also be times when you don’t just get a raise in salary but get offered various other perks that would be hard to find elsewhere, such as being able to take vacation days whenever you like or being able to work from home (which might not be common in some industries).

That might be rare, but it could show that your boss really does value your skills and wants to make you stay as much as possible.

Also Read: Things That Will Get You Fired Immediately

The Other Job Opportunity Wasn’t All That Great, Either

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Perhaps you hated your job and found something else, but it wasn’t that great, either. Maybe it was just the lesser of two evils, and perhaps you only planned to use it as a temporary solution while you looked for something that you really liked.

It doesn’t really matter why the other opportunity wasn’t that good. At the end of the day, if you feel like you have to choose between diarrhea and constipation, the counteroffer can tip the scales in favor of your current job and prevent you from leaving.

However, my advice would be to continue to look for other opportunities and only accept the counteroffer as a temporary solution. You should always strive to get the best for yourself, no matter how hard you have to work for it.

So, Should You Accept That Counteroffer?

I would recommend creating a simple list of the pros and cons of accepting the counteroffer. It’s one of the easiest ways to make a decision about such a big step.

Compare the pros and cons. Are there many more cons than pros?

You could also assign each pro and con a rating on a scale of 1-10. How big of a con or pro is each one?

Then, add the scores together for each side and see which one wins.

Most of the time, accepting a counteroffer isn’t the right step. Don’t let emotion or fear of the unknown get to you – there was a reason you decided to take that step and quit your job in the first place, and having a little extra money thrown at you probably isn’t going to fix the issues.

However, each situation is different, so you need to carefully decide which step would be best for your long-term career goals.

About Author

Ben Levin is a Hubspot certified content marketing professional and SEO expert with 6 years of experience and a strong passion for writing and blogging. His areas of specialty include personal finance, tech, and marketing. He loves exploring new topics and has also written about HVAC repair to dog food recommendations. Ben is currently pursuing a bachelor's in computer science, and his hobbies include motorcycling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai.