HR Insights

Job Counter-Offers: Better for the Employer, Employee or Neither?

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September 6, 2012


Job Counter Offers - Pros and ConsAre job seekers who are frustrated at their current jobs wise to consider a counter-offer from their current employer after they receive a job offer? Alternatively, are employers wise to provide a counter-offer to employees in order to persuade them to stay? Let’s examine the pros and cons of accepting a counter-offer, from both a candidate and an employer standpoint. 
Some of the reasons why employees might choose to leave a company include:
  • Frustrations or issues at their current job
  • The need for greater income and benefits 
  • Desire for flexibility of work environment
  • Clash with leadership/management style
  • Lack of career fulfillment or advancement opportunities

By addressing some of these issues with an employer, job seekers can alleviate these concerns and create a better work environment for themselves without seeking employment elsewhere. 


Employers should be mindful of employee satisfaction at all times in order to discourage employees to search for a new job. Ensuring that employees are paid their fair market value, along with offering them appropriate benefits and opportunities, will go a long way toward this goal. More importantly, identifying a candidate’s true needs and desires during the interview process will nearly guarantee that the employee is satisfied with the position, responsibilities and benefits.
Does it make sense, then, for a company to provide a counter-offer to an employee that they want to keep? Employers should weigh the cost to retain an employee versus the cost and time involved to acquire, hire and train a new employee. Will offering the employee a greater salary, or added benefits, make the person truly happy, or will it just be a matter of time before they decide to move on to a different position with another company? The answer will not be the same each time as the situation is different each time.  But a lot of times, letting the employee go is beneficial to both parties.
From the candidate standpoint, accepting a counter-offer after you have been offered a position elsewhere could have several consequences. One of the greatest risks is to your reputation. Internal management and other employees may resent you for asking for more money or benefits at the expense of other company resources. You will also need to prove your worth all over again if you are taking on a new position or greater responsibilities. In addition, the company may always wonder if you will jump at the next opportunity, while you will wonder whether you are on the short list for the next round of layoffs, or at the bottom of the list for the next promotion. 
As recruiters, we rarely find that counter-offers work to the advantage of either party. Once a company has decided to hire someone, if that candidate backs out, it can affect the company greatly, particularly if they have already cancelled job advertisements, announced the person’s hire, and prepared for training and other requirements for the new hire. And as a candidate, why risk being labeled as someone who doesn’t keep to their word? It may not be worth the gamble. 
As a learning experience for both job candidates and employers, sometimes it’s best to let go of a position that is not a good fit for either party. With a thorough hiring and interviewing process, as well as detailed terms for your next offer, you’ll have the components for contentment and success on both sides of the bargaining table.