About 20 years ago, I decided to leave my job since I felt unappreciated and underpaid. After applying at various companies and going through multiple interviews, I received a job offer that included a significant salary increase. I was on cloud nine! Now, the hard part – telling my boss I was leaving. That night, I carefully drafted my resignation letter as I didn’t want to burn any bridges. The next morning, I walked into my bosses’ office and tendered my resignation. What happened next came as a complete surprise – a counteroffer.
WOW! I was ecstatic. I had two companies competing for my skills and experience, and both offered a significant salary increase. That night, I went home and celebrated over a glass of wine with my husband. However, the next day, I started to feel bitter. Why did it take a job offer from another firm for my current company to offer me a market competitive pay package? Ultimately, I chose to leave my current company and accepted the position with the new firm.
As a Compensation Leader, I’ve encountered multiple instances where managers scramble to pull together counteroffers in an attempt to retain their key employees. Managers typically ask employees “What are they offering you?”, and then the auction process begins.
4 Reasons to Turn Down a Counteroffer
- Ask yourself “Why is it that I’m now getting a raise?” It’s not that you just became more valuable to your employer. It’s because your manager wants to avoid the work disruption that would occur if you left. Raises should be given based on your individual contributions and performance and should occur proactively by management, not reactively due to a resignation letter.
- You may later find your relationship with your employer has fundamentally changed. Your company might be trying to buy time to search for a replacement, figuring that it’s only a matter of time until you start looking again. You might accept the counteroffer only to find yourself out of a job soon thereafter.
- The reasons that you started job hunting in the first place may still exist. Many people begin the job search due to boredom with the work, dislike of their manager, or unrealistic deadlines. Increasing one’s salary doesn’t address the fundamental issues that may still exist.
- The new employer may never consider you a viable candidate in the future. After spending countless hours going through their hiring process, they may be wary of considering you for a position down the road.
In a prior blog, I addressed the Top 5 Employee Retention Strategies in 2021. Managers should shift from “reactive retention” to “proactive engagement” in order to avoid counteroffer situations.
Nancy Ellington is a Managing Partner with Alliance Compensation LLC, a team of seasoned experts and trusted solution for clients across the Western US in public and private companies. She has over 30 years of experience in corporate leadership roles and consulting, and lives with her husband and two kids in Redmond, WA.