Counter offers –please don’t leave, I promise I’ll change!

Counter offers –please don’t leave, I promise I’ll change!By Jack Kelly

I’m sorry; I will be different this time. I’ll change, I promise. I didn’t know you felt this way. You should have come to me first. Please don’t go. I bought you flowers, roses and chocolate. I just made reservations for us at your favorite restaurant. I was just about to propose…

Does this sound familiar? Isn’t this the clichéd response you have heard anytime you’ve had enough and started walking out the door?

Doesn’t  it also appear that your partner suddenly wakes up and tells you how much they care ONLY when they find out that you are leaving?

Business relationships are much like romantic relationships—sometimes they run their course and you need to move on to another job. Perhaps the boss was not appreciative of your work efforts. Maybe there is no advancement; you have not received a much deserved raise or bonus; management has started taking you for granted.

In this market counter offers are very prevalent.  The interview phase takes three to over six months and involves extensive time commitments and effort on behalf of management and employees.  Lately, firms may not even interview right away to replace a person but instead pile the work on someone else. They may also laterally move an inferior and less experienced internal employee to take on the job in an effort to save money and time.

Offers being made by other firms are modest, usually a ten to fifteen percent increase above the current base. Therefore, given the time and effort involved in replacing an employee (if the company is allowed to replace the person) coupled with relatively lower competing offers, it is becoming standard procedure for firms to counter offer their employees to stay.

Employees are wooed with  age-old soothing words like those spoken by boyfriends to their girlfriends as they are leaving.

Just as those statements ring hollow so does the rhetoric of a manager desperately trying to keep an employee.

Even if we give the current boss the benefit of the doubt that he/she is a good person, who amongst us would like to start searching for a new employee in mid-July when we have vacation plans and really don’t want to spend the time to find a person and train them? It’s much easier to offer a counter as a band aid solution. Let’s throw some money at this person and get them to stay. We were going to give them an annual increase soon anyway.

Here’s the catch: the counter is really a stalling technique. Nothing changes. Within a week or two, just as in a relationship, things return to as they were and you are still miserable.

Only, it is worse than before.  Management will  remember only that you held a gun to their head to get you to stay. Say goodbye to any raises; you already received it in the form of the counter. Also, beware— every time you leave early, come in late, take a long lunch, have a sick day, wear a new outfit- all will be signs that you are looking for a new job, as management feels you already betrayed yourself as a flight risk. Forget about promotions, as the resentment that you held them up for more money lingers and they will give the promotion to someone perceived as more loyal.

The environment becomes hostile. What usually happens is that you become tired of the sideways stares and behind the back chatter and quickly leave for a different job. This rebound job is most often worse than the current job and not nearly as attractive as the one you turned down.

It is unfortunate that we are in this type of market. With very few if any raises and intense work requirements, employees almost have to pursue new opportunities outside of the company in order to advance their career. But when the new job is found, the pressure and sweat talk begins and they capitulate into the old bad relationship.

My advice is that if you have not been treated well and a company had days, weeks, months and years to take care of your concerns but only addressed them after you stated your intent to leave, they really don’t care about you.

It sounds harsh and cold but it is the reality. They had their chance and they blew it.

If you have a new job offer, don’t be tempted by a counter offer from your current firm. Pursue the new opportunity with a fresh start and don’t look back.


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