Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How to Counter Offer Your Employee’s Offer

In today’s job market, employees can come and go as fast as the seasons change. It’s no longer common for an employee to devote their entire career life to just one company. So say one of your star employees has decided to inform you of their resignation and let’s you know that they will be leaving for another company. The reality of the situation sets in and you realize how much of a pain it will be to try and hire a new employee. You want to make your star employee a counter offer, but not so sure of how to do it. Listen up then, because Spark News has got your back.

While this next sentence may crush all hopes you had of receiving “how to make a counter offer” steps, you need to pay attention. Making a counter offer to an employee that has already decided to leave is a bad, bad idea. No matter how difficult hiring a new employee may be, even with savvy online video interviews, it’s never a good idea to coax an employee that has already checked out to stay. Why? Take a look at these great and true reasons why you shouldn’t counter offer your employee below.

It’s Likely Just a Band-Aid
If your employee has already taken the time to search for a job, interview with another employer and accept a job offer, then they likely have many reasons as to why. If they were a star employee, and knew it, then they have probably already addressed the issues they have with you or the position directly. A good employee will bring up big issues or difficulties they have instead of pretending they don’t exist. If they did this already and still felt the need to leave the company, then making a counter offer will only serve as a temporary fix. Perhaps you offer them more compensation or added benefits and they accept. Just because they are now paid more doesn’t mean that the issues have disappeared. It’s likely that this employee will still leave in the next six months anyways, and you will have to hire someone new after all.

In the mean time, you lost money paying them more and probably lost valuable time as well trying to bend over backwards to accommodate them so they stayed. In the end, it was a waste of time and they decided to leave anyways. Is this really worth it?

Lack of Communication
If your employee’s resignation is a complete surprise to you, then you have to question their integrity. Why did they never make light of any issues they were having before? Why didn’t they try to figure it out with you before searching for a new job? This points to either a communication issue or a lack of motivation on the part of your employee. If they had truly valued this position they have with you, they would have worked hard to try and smooth out the kinks. Perhaps they were being overworked. Why didn’t they ever mention this to you? Unless you’re a tyrant that wouldn’t listen or try to understand- which is a great reason to leave- they should have communicated with you before they searched for a new job.

Questionable Work Ethic
We’re speaking in majorities here, as there will always be exceptions to the rule, but usually when an employee has searched and found another job they have mentally checked out of the one they have with your company. They may accept your counter offer, but how do you know that they will truly be putting their best foot forward from now on? Of course, you can track their work and keep an eye on them, but chances are they have already checked out mentally.

Think about it. Why do they call it senior-itis when seniors in high school and college start slacking on their work? Because towards the middle of their last quarter they figure, “I’m almost done. This doesn’t matter!” Again, not everyone, but once you make up your mind to leave- or decide that you are finished with something- coming back to it with a full-on effort is extremely difficult. Keep this in mind when you think about making a counter offer.

Compromised Relationship
The relationship an employee has with their superior is very important- platonically speaking, of course. If your employee decided to leave, then there’s bound to be a divide in the relationship you have with them, right? You may constantly be thinking, “When are they going to decide to leave again?” or “What was it that made them decide to leave in the first place. Was it me?” These are not the kind of things you want to be focusing on when it comes to one of your top employees. You want to know that they are devoted to this job and to your company. If they already decided to leave once, how do you know they won’t up and leave again?

One Good Reason to Counter Offer

Even though counter offers are a terrible mistake, there is one good reason to make one: to buy yourself some time. Perhaps you really can’t afford to lose this employee right now. Maybe there is a huge project deadline coming up and losing this employee would mean not making the deadline. In the business world, this just isn’t acceptable. In this case, making an offer so your employee stays on for the time being may be the best option. However, you should seriously start scouring the market for a replacement pronto. As stated earlier, this counter offer is likely just a band-aid and it should be assumed that this employee will be out in six months to a year. When they do decide to leave, at least you will be fully prepared.

SOURCE: Dennis Wolf Blog
IMAGE: Courtesy of Open View Partners

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter