8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Accept a Counter-Offer

ByHanover Team
Posting date: 13 March 2024

Should you stay or should you go? 


Making the decision to leave your current position in search of a new one is something that you will likely have considered very carefully, and that’s also exactly why you’ll struggle to decide what to do when your existing employer makes a competitive counter offer. 


There are a lot of mixed opinions about counter-offers and whether you should accept one or not. Around 50% of employers make a counter-offer each time an employee hands in their resignation, particularly in areas of the market where there is a skills shortage.


However, should you choose to accept, it’s likely that you’ll be in the 80% of people who leave within six months, or the 90% who leave within a year afterwards. 

Why wouldn’t you accept an employer’s counter-offer?

You may feel like you owe your existing employer your loyalty, or that you’d rather stay put because you’re familiar with how everything works.


The counter-offer presented to you might even renew your sense of value within the organization but, ultimately, there are many reasons you should think twice about accepting. We explore seven reasons you may want to think twice about accepting a counter-offer below. 

1. Your loyalty will be questioned 

Make no mistake; the relationship you had with your manager before you resigned and then accepted a counter-offer will never be the same, regardless of how long you’ve worked together.


In fact, it can hinder future success at your current employer. So even if the counter-offer sounds good, you’re more likely to progress in a new company in a role you haven’t said that you want to leave.

2. It will not guarantee job satisfaction 

A counter-offer may give hope of a better culture, work/life balance and/or an increased salary, but once the ‘sugar hit’ of a new title and bump in salary wears off, 90% of people who accept a counter-offer leave within 12 months.


The main reason that you wanted to leave in the first place still may not have been addressed. Or worse, the finer points of your counter-offer never actually materialize.


When presented with a counter-offer that promises a boost in salary, keep in mind your reasons for wanting to quit. Workplace mental health and a lack of emphasis on employee wellbeing is a common theme, and these aren’t things that will be solved by simply increasing pay. 

3. Your employer might not value you enough 

A lot of counter-offers include a pay rise, but this leaves a crucial question. Why has it taken a resignation for your employer to recognize your contribution and worth to the company? 


When this happens, it’s time to do some research using free online resources such as Salary.com and find out what your true market worth is, so that you are armed with the knowledge you need to refuse politely. 

4. Your employer doesn’t know how long you’ll stay 

If you accept your employer’s counter-offer, they will probably always wonder (even if this thought isn’t voiced) how long you will stay with the company, seeing as you wanted to leave. You might be considered more expendable than other employees who haven’t quit, and this might mean you’re vulnerable to cuts in the future. 

5. Counter-offers can be a stalling tactic 

Employers will often offer to pay you more because it’s an inconvenience to them and the team to lose a competent and experienced staff member. It’s easier to counter an offer with more money than to address the real problem, such as poor employee wellbeing or company culture, or offering flexible working.

I’ve heard of employers who start looking for a replacement for someone who’s accepted a counter-offer when they know they’ll get someone who’ll have a similar skillset and be more agreeable to the current company working environment. They may just be keeping you in place until they find that replacement.

6. Annual bonus time 

Regardless of your performance, if a discretionary bonus plan is in place, you may have already received part of your annual bonus within the counter-offer you accepted a few months ago. This actually happens more than people realize. If you’re going to accept a counter-offer, this is definitely worth checking.

7. You might miss a valuable opportunity elsewhere  

Many of my own clients have accepted a counter-offer only to end up disappointed and return to me in the hope that the position they were going for hasn’t been filled. In some cases, I’m able to put them back on track to secure the role, but all too often, candidates miss out on incredible opportunities when originally choosing to stay put. 

8. They may not backfill the role 

Another common trend I’ve seen is employees accepting a counter-offer under the guise of a promotion, more money and increased fulfilment, only to realize that their employer hasn’t backfilled their old role. What this means is that you get a promotion but you’ll end up working two jobs, putting you on the sure road to burnout.  

How long does it take to get a counter-offer?  

Some organizations have a strict policy of not providing any counter-offers, regardless of the individual or circumstances surrounding the resignation. If you do receive a counter-offer, it will typically arrive within 72 hours of resigning.

How to decline a counter-offer

This is an area in which many people are underprepared, and then fumble through an awkward conversation. It’s important to be polite and professional, and keep the discussion short and specific. Thank your current employer for the opportunity to work for the organization and you appreciate them wanting to keep you, but the decision has already been made. 

You may even want to put your disinterest in your resignation letter, so that your employer doesn’t make a counter-offer and you can avoid that awkward conversation.

Some key things to keep in mind when declining your counter-offer include:


- Don’t burn your bridges - the organization itself or even the people within it might prove beneficial to your career in the future. Be polite, express your gratitude and keep in touch.  

- Be clear - The easiest way to avoid having to turn down a counter-offer is to make it clear that nothing could sway you to stay. It might help for you to write down a list of pros and cons, exploring each. 

The Hanover effect 

For nearly 30 years, Hanover has been helping organizations to identify, engage, recruit and assess executive level talent and key individuals for specialty/technical markets. Our experienced staff and high search completion rates minimize the risk of counter offers influencing successful search outcomes, due to experienced assessment and screening of the candidates and knowledge of our clients. 

If you’d like to have a conversation about recruitment, offers or counter offers, get in touch with me and let’s schedule a call. 

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