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Counter Offers - A Blessing or A Curse?

Q. What is your opinion of counter-offers? After I gave my notice, my employer beat the offer from my new employer by $5K and 3 additional vacation days. I left anyway and I am very happy in my new position. My family thinks it was a mistake, and I should have stayed, and taken the increased offer. I don't think so because I know I wouldn't see another raise for years. What do you think?

A. Counter offers are an employer's last ditch effort to get an employee to change their mind about leaving the organization. Most people who get to the point you did (giving notice), are ready to leave their employer for many reasons and not just because of compensation.

As people start to evaluate their job satisfaction, they take many points into account. In the most basic way, people ask themselves if they are happy. Employees typically consider the level of engagement they have with their job, dedication to their employer, the understanding and alignment with the vision or mission of the company. They consider the challenge in the job, the amount of development the company provides, and the relationship they have with their immediate manager. Compensation, benefits, advancement and recognition also play important parts in an employee’s decision to stay or to look for new employment. When some or all of these points of consideration don't provide positive reactions, the disengagement begins.

Most often the decision to leave an organization is a thoughtful process. Employees also look at the potential financial increase which would make changing jobs worthwhile. A career changer may consider a lateral financial move acceptable. Other people wouldn't consider a move for less than 20% over their current compensation. Changing jobs has many implications, and conducting a job search is time consuming and filled with rejection. People also recognize the challenges in starting a new job and learning a new role.

There are many employees that companies don't want to lose for a variety of reasons. An employee's contribution may be extremely valuable. The organization may have moved more slowly than they hoped to in promoting an employee. The timing of an employee leaving could be bad based on pending projects. Not all employees will get counter offers. There is a benefit to the company and employees must recognize that.

Many HR people will tell you counter offer situations do not work out for the long term. Current employers often wonder if they are put into the position to make a counter offer so that the employee can maximize their compensation, and have the option of not leaving. Employees have tipped their hand about their desire to leave, and employers are convinced the employee stayed for the money alone and will leave at the next chance they get. If you went to a job you wanted and didn't just run from a job you disliked, then don't let anyone second guess your decision.

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