Why Accepting a Counteroffer is Counterproductive

Quite often we hear from candidates who want to leave their current job (again) because a recent counteroffer they accepted has not matched expectations. Their attitude usually conveys an air of disappointment, anger and disgust that they are back looking for a job change – once again. The promises and guarantees in the counteroffer they accepted didn’t materialize and they are now REALLY committed to leaving their job for greener pastures. Accepting to be “bought” back with a counteroffer after trying to resign generally does not work!  

Anecdotally among recruiters, the word is that with those who accept a counteroffer, 50% reinitiate their job searches within 90 days, and about 80% leave or are terminated within 6 to 12 months.

One staffing firm’s survey of 80 firms showed that more than 50% of all employees who accept counteroffers change companies within the following 24 months.

No matter what statistics you find, accepting a counteroffer generally doesn’t work because:

  1. No matter what they offer you, your relationship with the boss will not the same anymore, and your loyalty will be seriously questioned. You will never truly be trusted like you were before.
  2. To execute counteroffers, typically higher levels of managers and HR are involved. So word will spread among the ranks and probably feed disgruntled gossip, sowing negative oats.
  3. Money and title are temporary soothing solutions. Most of the time, the adjustments made to keep you are cosmetic and will rarely overcome the underlying deeper reasons as to why you wanted to leave in the first place.
  4. If you accept a counteroffer to solve an immediate financial problem, you are not thinking “big picture.”  You are making a selfish decision based on current short term needs alone and you will be let down in the long run.
  5. The emotion and flattery of the moment is definitely an ego boost and makes you to feel special.  How long is the feeling going to last? What is going to happen when it wears off?
  6. Good, well-managed companies generally do not have to buy people back. They should be hyper-aware of the temperature of employee satisfaction. It could be a sign your company is mismanaged, and this will ultimately lead to furthering your dissatisfaction and eventual departure.

Although it seems like a good idea at the time, accepting counteroffers generally don’t work. Don’t make the mistake that so many others have made… you will pay the price in the end. Say thanks, but no thanks, and move on!