Counter-Offers / Temporary Fix?

Employer counter offers appear the easier option (particularly when emotions like loyalty come into play) however, it’s worth bearing the following in mind when emotions begin to muddy the water; Statistics reportedly show that around 90% of employees who accept a counter offer will leave the company within 6 months anyway – whether it be by push or jump!

Counter offers are the most bitter of pills for recruiters to swallow, and surprisingly enough this isn’t solely down to the losing of a fee.  Experience tells us that accepting a counter offer exposes both parties to a long period of unease and mistrust – client losing a perfect candidate, and the candidate losing the exciting new job.

Before accepting a counter offer, Tony Byrne (Recruitment icon) warned candidates of the following:

  • The initial reason the employee wanted to leave is usually still present – money won’t solve your problems, it may in fact; only add to them because now more is expected of you! A promotion on the back of a threat is often a rare occurrence.
  • Employers will lose trust and seek to replace the employee in their own time
  • If times get tough the employee will mostly likely be first out the door

Unfortunately once a counter offer has been accepted by the candidate the opportunity for a new start has disappeared, much like the respect from the company who offered the role. 

Usually by this point the tables have truly turned, the candidate is left searching for a new role rather than the employer searching for a new employee. The candidate has given the company months to consider their replacement, starting from the day of signing that counter offer!


Recruiter Perspective

After talking with one of our Senior Consultants I gained a new perspective on the ‘dreaded’ counter-offer.   Apparently the most disheartening thing from the consultants point of view is when the candidate turns up six months later ‘cap in hand’ when the “boat has already sailed”.  Counter offers can have a negative effect for client relationships, at Johnston Vere we work as partners rather than a ‘one-off contractors’ with our clients and share the bitter disappointment.

David Beeston (Senior Consultant at Johnston Vere) offered some tips for eliminating the chances of shortlisting candidates with ‘Counter offer intentions’.  This method is obviously not ‘bullet proof’ but goes a long way to safeguarding our client relationships.

David’s top tips:

1.    Very early on establish the candidates genuine motivations for wanting to leave their current employer

2.    If money is the prime motivation this demonstrates a ‘bad intention’ and a high risk of accepting a counter offer from current employer

3.    Ask the candidate how they feel their employer will react and hope to hear a confident answer (with no hints of indecisiveness)

4.    Meeting candidates face-to-face is crucial at Johnston Vere as we build rapport with both candidates and clients giving them both the confidence to take ‘the next step’ 

All of the above should be considered by anyone in recruitment industry, particularly when ‘Headhunting’, which presents a higher risk as the person isn’t necessarily looking to leave their current position.


The last few points to consider (again come from recruitment guru Tony Byrne, who trained Johnston Vere staff back in the late 90s!)

  • Accepting a counter offer can hurt your pride, you were bought!
  • What type of company do you work for if a threat is the only way for them to pay you your worth?
  • Why didn’t they pay you that before, didn’t they think you were worth it?
  • Is this an early pay rise? Companies usually have strict guidelines for wages and salaries that must be adhered to.
  • You will be less likely to get a future promotion!


 To conclude:

A counter offer may feel like the right decision at the time, however, the shine will eventually fade and the same issues that pushed you to consider change will re-appear; a realisation to the lack of change you once sought.  The new opportunity you decided against may become a nagging regret – a what if? a why not?  All for a little extra cash!