Should I Accept a Counteroffer? The General Answer is NO!


Employees often decide that it is time to make a change in their employment. There are usually a variety of reasons that lead to doing so. They take the time to look for another role, interview, and receive an offer. Most are happy to move on, give their notice of resignation and start their new job. However, at times, after the employee gives their notice of resignation, the employer may provide the employee with a counter-offer to consider, generally an offer of more money if the employee will remain with the company. The question that the employee then poses to me is, “Should I accept the counteroffer?”

From my perspective, accepting a counteroffer is generally a bad idea. Sure, at times it can work out for the minority of people, but mostly, there are various reasons why an employee should NOT accept a counter-offer.

A few reasons include:

The impetus that pushed the employee to look for new employment will likely still be a problem, even if the employee is paid more. Most people don’t seek to leave their employment simply because they want to be paid more. It does happen that employees are looking for higher pay, but there is generally a factor that pushes the employee to take the time to seek new employment and make that move. In particular, the employee is not being promoted or considered for a title/role they want to be in; the employee feels that they are in a toxic work environment with a bully boss or bullying co-workers; there is a lack of resources or support; the employee is doing the work of more than one employee; the company is having financial problems or going through a downsizing; there isn’t work/life balance or a flexible work schedule; the employee didn’t like the culture of the company and/or wasn’t being valued.

The company knows the employee is looking to leave. While the employer may do anything necessary to keep the employee initially, the employer is aware that the employee was seeking alternate employment. This may result in the employer/manager/team questioning the employee’s loyalty and may make the team/manager uncomfortable with keeping the employee. The employer may also start to question whether the employee is still looking for a better offer.

The employer may use a counteroffer as a stalling tactic. Whereas an employee may feel valued because the employer made a counteroffer for the employee to stay, it could really be selfish motivation that resulted in the counteroffer. A counteroffer may be given to stop the employee from leaving at that moment. However, once the employer is in a position (on the employer’s own timeframe) that the employer can replace the employee, it is likely that the employer may do so and the employee will be terminated. The employer can then replace the employee at the pay scale that the employer was looking to pay and not the compensation that the employer was forced to pay to keep the employee. The employee will then be out of work without the possibility of the new role as the new company will not be eager to accept the employee after the employee turned down their job offer to stay with their old company.

The employee may miss out on a great new opportunity and a better career trajectory by accepting a counteroffer. The new job offer may be what the employee needs for themselves, their family and/or their career. Whether it be more money or a lateral move into a different role and responsibilities, there was a reason that the employee was seeking new opportunities. This shouldn’t be discounted by receiving a counteroffer.

An employee should determine their job values. An employee looking to make a transition has taken the time to determine what is important to them. The employee should not lose sight of this or their job values because of apprehension to make a move. The employee should focus on this new chapter, embrace it and take the necessary steps to accomplish their long-term (or short-term) goals.

Sheree Donath, Esq. can assist you if you are looking for career transition assistance, coaching, and/or the reviewing of documents. Click here or send me a message for further information and/or to schedule a consultation.

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