Should you accept a counteroffer? 5 things to think about

Engineering and IT recruitment are challenging fields at the moment. This means more and more employers are responding with counteroffers when an employee tells them they are resigning. So as that employee, should you accept a counteroffer?

A counteroffer can sound flattering. It can feel like an easier way to go too. After all, you know how everything works at your current job and you know all the people too.

So, why do counteroffers have such a negative reputation? Let’s take a look at the most important things to think about when considering a counteroffer:

Why do employers make counteroffers?

There are several reasons why so many employers seem to make counteroffers now compared with a few years ago. These include:

The “Great Resignation” and long COVID effects – huge numbers of people resigned following the COVID-19 pandemic. Others failed to return to work after developing health conditions, including long COVID. The jobs market is still feeling this.

Competitive jobs markets – the engineering and IT jobs markets in the UK are coming up short of the required talent due to a variety of long-term and short-term factors.

Recruitment is expensive – hiring new employees can be costly (as much as twice as much as the former employee’s yearly salary when you factor in training and productivity lost).

Should you accept a counteroffer? 5 things to think about

1) Did your employer not recognise your value before now?

Most counteroffers include higher salaries and more benefits. In short, two of the key things that many people consider looking for a new job to get.

It begs the question though, why did your employer not realise how valuable you were and offer you something like this before now?

2) Is any new position in your counteroffer real?

Another feature of counteroffers is a promotion or a career advancement opportunity.

Unfortunately, some of these opportunities suffer from being emergency reactions from an employer who wants to keep you but doesn’t really have a position to offer you. That’s why it’s always worth asking yourself:

-How long has your employer been looking for someone to fill this role?

-Did they just invent it in an attempt to please you?

-What actual responsibilities will this “promotion” include?

3) Is this offer “on top”?

Is your counteroffer something additional to what you’d be getting anyway?

The classic example is that you suddenly find your employer telling you that “you’ve already had your increase” at your next pay review.

4) Does your employer still trust you?

It’s understandable that your employer might feel a little bit betrayed by your initial decision to leave. Even if you were to now accept the counteroffer and stay, would the initial trust come back?

Most people who accept a counteroffer when resigning from engineering and IT jobs find that it doesn’t. Or at least, they suspect – and can’t stop suspecting – that it doesn’t.

Many believe that their employer starts to overlook them for further advancement or pay increases. Others that their employer has already started looking for their replacement. Whether their employer actually is or not, this perception does not lead to a happy working dynamic.

One way to avoid this situation is to make clear your reasons for leaving (e.g. “I’d love to stay here but I need more money to cover my increased rent”). This can help you avoid any implication that you want to leave.

5) Why did you want to leave in the first place?

The only situation where you arguably might want to stay when presented with a counteroffer is when it solves all the issues that made you consider leaving in the first place.

This would normally only be if you love your job, your boss, and your team, but know you need more money (e.g. to cover the cost of living crisis) or want career advancement opportunities you know your current employer cannot offer.

If suddenly your boss does have more money or is expanding, you may be in luck. Perhaps you might want to consider that counteroffer. Because you’ve explained the situation, your boss shouldn’t hold it against you.

But if you are leaving because of a bad boss or working environment or boredom, can any amount of money solve that problem for long?

Should you accept a counteroffer – what do the statistics say?

Despite all these warnings, over half of employees in the UK do accept counteroffers. However, many later regret it:

-5 out of 10 employees were looking for another position anyway within two months of accepting a counteroffer

-8 out of 10 employees had actually left within six months

-9 out of 10 employees had left within a year

This means that it is a rare circumstance indeed where you should accept a counteroffer from your current employer.

Would you still consider a counteroffer if finding your next IT job could be simple?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon is a specialist IT and engineering recruitment agency. Here you’ll find access to exclusive job offers you won’t find elsewhere

Get in touch with us now to tell us what you’re looking for in the next step of your career.