Should You Accept a Counteroffer?
Right now, the job market is a bit hectic, and with the commercial real estate market cooling down, you might have doubts about changing jobs. Even if you’ve accepted a new position with the company of your dreams, it’s natural to second guess your decision.
And if you’re as valuable a team member as you think you are, there’s a good chance your old company might not want to see you go. They might ask you to reconsider or offer a raise. That’s when you need to stop and think clearly about your situation. Don’t let emotions cloud your better judgment. Ask yourself, should I really accept a counteroffer or stay the course?
Let’s break this down and get a better understanding of the pros and cons of accepting a counteroffer from your current employer.
Replacing You Won’t Be Easy
Think about this from your supervisor’s perspective for a moment. This probably isn’t very convenient timing (it never is), and there’s always the concern that your move might signal to others that they should look elsewhere.
Your manager knows it won’t be cheap to replace you. And there’s always the personal aspect of all of the emotional investment and team building that might be seen as a wasted investment. But regardless of how negative someone might look at your changing companies, that doesn’t mean you can undo it by accepting their counteroffer.
In CRE and other competitive job markets, there can be a lot of cost associated with employee turnover. And you can’t blame your supervisors for trying to keep you instead of rolling the dice on a new hire. That’s why about half of all resignations are met with a counteroffer. It’s predictable and understandable.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Remember, as good as your working relationship might have been, much of what is motivating this counteroffer is whether or not this will mess up the quarterly numbers or get in the way of an upcoming personal vacation or look bad for the stakeholders. Believe it or not, what’s best for your career is not driving them at this point.
Problems That Arise When You Accept a Counteroffer
There are a number of pitfalls associated with accepting that offer to take some extra vacation time or a generous pay raise.
First and foremost, if you accept a counteroffer based on financial gain, this could damage your reputation. Your manager might see you as only motivated by money. Your professional brand could suffer, and others might perceive you as simply loyal to the highest bidder.
Secondly, no matter how strong your professional relationships may be, on some level, you will always be viewed with suspicion from this point on. You will always be seen as a potential flight risk. As a result, you will be on the short list for termination should things get sticky. Or at the very least, workplace rapport will never be the same again.
Thirdly, if you accept a counteroffer, you’ve just soured your reputation with the company offering you a better position. Even if you only gave an oral commitment to hire on, reneging is seen as a broken trust. And if you go back on that agreement and things don’t work out with your current employer (and they usually don’t), you can’t go back to that other company. That bridge is already burned.
The Counteroffer Isn’t What You’re After
What was it you were looking for when you interviewed for this new position? Did your supervisor not appreciate your contributions? Was the commute too much for you with current gas prices? Or maybe you just didn’t find your job very fulfilling.
Whatever the motivation, chances are, an early promotion or a little more pay won’t provide what you’re really after. And if you accept the counteroffer, within a few months, those nagging problems will bubble back up to the surface.
There’s a reason employees who accept counteroffers usually leave anyway within a year. If they aren’t laid off or fired, they find the underlying problems are more unbearable and leave for the first opportunity that comes along. And that opportunity usually isn’t as good as the one that motivated their resignation in the first place.
Remind yourself why you accepted this new offer and be excited for the future in front of you. When you submit your resignation, be polite, but be firm. Inform your current employer that you have already considered all of the factors and that your decision is final. Though you will look back fondly on this time, and though you are thankful for the opportunities, this new chapter is what’s best for your career.