June 9, 2024

I once accepted a counteroffer to stay with a company and it was probably the worst work decision I ever made. In the immediate aftermath of deciding to stay there were three main feelings:

1) Relief that the difficult process of resigning was over 

2) Excitement about the new role and increased salary I had been offered by my existing employer

3) Comfort of knowing I had avoided change (something which most people are averse to)

However, once I had accepted the counteroffer, it didn’t take long for the issues which had led me to decide to leave in the first place to arise again and, as with the majority people who accept a counteroffer, within a year, I had left the company. 

Whether your initial decision to move on was due to ‘push factors’ making you want to leave your job or ‘pull factors’ drawing you to the new company (or most likely a combination of both), those factors don’t disappear because of a good counter offer. 

You still see the social media posts / press releases of the other company and their successes, progress and the positives of everything they do are magnified. Simultaneously, you start to notice (again) the frustrations / limitations of your current employer and these also become exaggerated. It is very rare for someone who has accepted a counter offer to remain happy with their employer for a long time and, often, there is only a very short respite before the person will decide to move on again. 

Accepting a counter offer can also badly affect your future job prospects. Regardless of the reasons for the U-turn, the company who you were due to join will always be disappointed (and possibly quite angry) that you have reneged on the agreement with them and the odds of them trusting you to join them again in the future are certainly reduced. The company may have turned down another suitable candidate who has now accepted another role and they undoubtedly will have already planned your workflow and induction period. Not taking up the role you had promised to often causes a lot of logistical headaches for companies (and these are not easily forgiven or forgotten!)

In a niche job market, the knock-on effects of accepting a counter offer can be quite severe in the long term – people talk and future employers (as well as recruiters) are always cautious about offering a position to someone who has a track record of pulling out of an accepted job offer. 

In summary, accepting a counteroffer is something that should be avoided at all costs. Before accepting a new position, be sure that you have asked all the questions you need answering in order to be able to make a firm decision. And once you have made a decision, stick with it. When resigning, if a counteroffer is made, remember to ask yourself: If the company is genuinely willing to offer a pay rise/promotion/improvement in conditions now, why did they wait until you had almost walked out of the door?!