You had your reasons for looking. So you decided to test the waters outside of your full-time job, you nailed the interview, and you got the job offer. But when you give your two-weeks’ notice, you’re floored when you discover your employer is willing to match or pay you more to stay.
Or maybe you’re not floored, and that was your plan all along. That’s cool too. You should always be on the lookout for ways to improve your situation, because the reality is, no one else is. “Work family,” is a nice term for employee engagement, but that seldom comes up during downsizing.
If you get that other job offer, congratulations. You’re officially the center of a bidding war. And it’s not uncommon to accept the counteroffer, for many reasons, but there’s one main reason.
We accept counter offers because we don’t like change
People don’t like change. Recall the 2010 study that showed “people have a very reliable and tangible preference for things that have been around longer.” It’s no different in the workplace. Assuming you aren’t unhappy, which changes things considerably, the reality is that you’re comfortable.
You know your boss and his or her expectations. You take the same route to and from work every day, and have an alternative one in case of bad morning traffic. You’ve made friends among your coworkers. Familiarity feels good and it’s safe.
But taking the counter offer seldom works in your favor.
We never want to speak in absolutes. “Never do this,” or “always do that,” usually demands context. If you feel you are in a great situation, you truly know your superiors, then do what you feel is best. Like we said above, always put yourself first.
But your company will be doing the same thing. Getting another offer can have a negative connotation in the hallways of HR. It can make you look like a money-first opportunist, which they may not like.
Surely you’ve heard the famous statistic among recruiters. The one that goes, “80 percent of people who accept a counteroffer are gone within six months after accepting.” But as recruiters ourselves, we see it. It makes sense, for several reasons.
The counter offer could just be a tactic to buy time – the time for you to finish any large projects, or a time to find your replacement. Plus, people hold grudges. As petty as it sounds, when promotions and bonuses come up at the end of the year, the word “loyalty,” seems to as well.
And on that note, who do you think your employer may start with if they have to downsize? Remember, if you’re let go, it’s a lot harder for you to explain that in your next interview than it is for them to hire someone else.
It’s not an easy situation, it’s just usually safer to decline.
Of course recruiters want you to decline the counter offer. That affects us too. But that doesn’t change the reality surrounding your current employer after you’ve received another offer and let them match or beat it.
You simply can’t depend on people always seeing it your way. People take things personally – we’re only human. And that’s OK. We just have to acknowledge as much when making such an important decision.
If and when you get that offer, never forget what made you look elsewhere in the first place. If it’s money and the counter offer helps you get more, great. But if it’s anything else – work/life balance, not enough responsibility or respect, or if you’re just bored – money won’t change any of that.
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