Employment counter offer — Everything you need to know

November 30, 2021


A job counter offer occurs when an employee has notified an employer of their intention to leave, and their employer reacts by offering them a better employment deal for them to stay.

The intention to leave could be official or unofficial. The job counter offer often focuses on bettering the conditions of employment, such as a better remuneration package.

In a poll on LinkedIn, I asked people how likely they are to take a counter offer after handing in their resignation. A total of 3 248 people responded.

At the time of writing this article, the poll had been viewed 73 627 times. The results are shown below;

Several reasons were given for accepting and not accepting a counter offer. I list some of the reasons below:

  1. The psychological contract between employer and employee has already been severely damaged once an employee actively searches for a job.

A counter offer might fix the salary or job level component, but it will be difficult to repair the psychological contract from both the employer and the employee.

  1. If the employer valued me as an important member of the organisation, why did they not adjust my package earlier without me putting in my resignation? I do not think such a counter offer will be sincere.
  2. That would not be a wise thing to do. As soon as you receive that counter offer and inform the new employer that you are not taking the position, expect to be fired.
  3. It is very unwise to accept a counter offer as it won’t guarantee job satisfaction or career progression, trust will be lost. The salary adjustments will not make sense in the long run.
  4. I think it depends on the reasons why you tendered the resignation. If it was about the remuneration and the offer is lucrative, take it. But if it was about the culture, work-life balance, or anything else that’s taxing you personally, I guess a counter offer won’t suffice.
  5. If the resignation was based on the request for salary increment, yes, I will take the counter offer if I have not already been accepted somewhere. If the concern is money at that moment, I can take a chance.
  6. No. I have already decided to leave for whatever reasons, be it growth, leaving a toxic work environment, or seeking a new challenge, e.t.c, why would I change it to accept a counter offer?
  7. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. However, in multiple surveys of employees that accepted counter offers, 50%-80% voluntarily left their employer within six months of accepting the counter offer because of promises not kept.
  8. Value cannot be recognised the day a person decides to leave. Accepting a counter offer feels more of a desperate situation than appreciating your value. The same energy that made you want to leave before will retain shortly after accepting the counter offer.
  9. It depends on your reason for wanting to leave in the first place and where you will be going.

Most organisations do not care to retain talent when they can still do so. If l left for salary, maybe a counter offer will be acceptable, but if it is due to a toxic environment and organisational culture, chances are those won’t change, so leaving will be the best..

  1. You are leaving for a reason and stick to that. If they offer more money, I would feel ripped off, as my value is only determined when I want to leave.

Money does not bring happiness in the workplace. If you accept the offer, they now realise you are desperate. They will treat you as they wish. In addition, you let down your new potential employer and yourself.

  1. Money is often not the breaking point. Communication, clear vision, being overstretched, and lack of empowerment are normally the bigger issues.
  2. In my relatively short career, every time I’ve resigned, I’ve been counter offered. I’ve never taken it. The reason is every time I’ve moved jobs, it is for a better opportunity more than it’s been for money.
  3. Sure, why not? It depends on many factors, especially your overall long-term strategy and short-term strategy.
  4. No need of accepting the counter offer for simple reasons;


  1. a) You have created an environment hostile for yourself such that they will even try to frustrate you more than you were at first b) If it’s money you were targeted, they will counter offer you, yet after a few months/ years, you will be stuck at the same salary again and become more frustrated. c) Trust issues will also be at stake between you and your employer as they will now be thinking you’re not loyal to the organisation. You are likely to be disadvantaged and sidelined from key activities in your profession.
  2. Personal circumstances must also be considered. If you are in the twilight of your career, for example, and have felt undervalued and overworked for some time, a salary increase and a reduced workload may be sufficient for that individual to consider staying. Companies are struggling at the moment to keep costs down.
  3. It’s not always about the money but about being treated decently. I was once told I was not allowed to laugh at work or take lunch with colleagues. In this case, no amount of money would make me stay.

However, if I had financial goals and the employer treated me well and challenged me a bit more, I would consider staying.

  1. It is not about the money. Are you still growing at your workplace? How is your work/life balance? Is your voice being heard? Is this still a great place to work? Do you see yourself staying in this company for the next two years? Maybe deal with those questions first.
  2. A counter offer indicates that your skills are needed, and they don’t have a potential replacement immediately. As they are now aware that you may leave, they will minimise their dependence on you and eventually, the salary increase will be negated.
  3. Suppose my reason to resign is purely financial. In that case, I will try to have a conversation to renegotiate my remuneration package with my current employer before tendering my resignation, benchmarking it with the new offer (that’s if the employer wants to keep me).

That way, the conversation becomes less “aggressive”. If the reasons to leave are because of issues that more money won’t resolve, then it might be worth your while to go.

  1. Once you decide to move, stick to the plan. Accepting a counter offer may sometimes be seen as a lack of self-confidence.
  2. I believe your loyalty to the organisation would be questionable if you decided to stay after handing in your resignation.
  3. Counter offers are bribes, basically. Down the road after accepting the offer, it will not end well!
  4. Usually, if you accept a counter offer, your boss will come after you, and you will be under tremendous pressure to deliver more and more!
  5. No!!!!, move on and embrace the new challenge. I mean, why did you then start looking for new or better opportunities?
  6. If I wanted to leave because of salary, yes. If it was because of the environment, no
  7. There was a reason(s) you resigned, and a counter offer is almost always about money. Examine those reasons that led you to consider other employment and be honest with yourself. Make a list of the push  factors. You may be surprised at what you discover!!
  8. If you accepted another offer and signed already, it would be wrong to cancel and accept a counter offer from your current employer.
  9. In my experience, trying to hold on to people who have expressed a desire to leave is often foolish and often counter-productive (i.e. you should have been thinking more about succession planning and getting a committed person into that role)
  10. I have previously accepted a counter offer, and it was the best thing I ever did. It depends on the reasons that you wanted to leave in the first place.
  11. All about the circumstances, I would say. Your colleagues, environment, the possibility of  future growth, and if the pros outweigh the cons, take it.

As can be seen from the reasons above, people have various reasons for accepting a counter offer and why they would not.

It seems circumstances that have led you to resign in the first place play a big part in your choice when given a counter offer.

Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm, consulting firm, https://www.thehumancapitalhub.com  email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com  or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com


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