The Dangers of Accepting a Counter-Offer

May 2015

A Wall Street Journal survey recently revealed that of the 50% of employees who accepted counter-offers, 93% left their companies within eighteen months. While the promise of a higher salary and the comfort of staying in the same place might sound appealing, accepting a counter-offer is often counter-productive.  Here are several of the risks associated with doing so:

Low Morale: The reality of the corporate world is that word typically gets around when anything significant occurs. When everyone in an organization is aware that a coworker had the intention of leaving, it causes a shift in the workplace atmosphere. Those who feel strongly about the success of the organization might feel slighted and treat you differently.

Moving Target: Having said the above, those who accept counter-offers often end up walking about with an “x” on their backs. When there are negative feelings, it becomes easy to be targeted or blamed when things go wrong.

Temporary Fix: Odds are that if you come to the point of leaving, management didn’t recognize your value prior to the counter-offer. Your company may just decide to keep you around until someone better (or who they can pay less) comes along, especially when they sense a lack of loyalty.

Unhappiness Will Persist: Though it’s possible that your salary was the only thing that caused you to leave, there are typically several factors associated with the desire to move.  More money might cause you to temporarily forget the initial reasons for leaving; but it likely won’t be long after accepting the counter-offer that you're reminded of them.

Jeopardized Promotion: When promotion time comes around, the counter-offer will undoubtebly play a factor in your evaluation. Between the already increased salary and the questionable loyalty, they will be much more likely to deny a promotion or raise.  

Leaving a job can be difficult, particularly if you’ve been there for a substantial amount of time. Change is never easy and the promise of more money to stay put can be hard to turn down. However, it’s important to maintain a level head when making a decision of this magnitude. Write down your reasons for wanting to make a change, and the pros and cons of accepting a counter-offer. Allowing yourself to see beyond the present will allow you to move forward in a productive manner that will positively contribute to your long-term career goals.