How do counter offers subtly break relationships?

Counter offer Ellis Fox Blog

Accepting a new role is not a decision that’s made lightly, especially if you’re advanced in your career. There’s a great deal of consideration that goes into it, which often includes debating whether the new offer is worth it. It’s about more than pay. It’s often about opportunity, freedom, flexibility or even autonomy to work the way that you want to.

The problem is that if you’ve been at the same company for a while, you may feel like you’re betraying your employer by moving on. So, when they make a counter offer, it makes you start to doubt.

We often see this happening in the hiring process. Good employees are hard to find and most companies will make an effort to retain them by offering a better package or benefits. Sadly, these counter offers are usually a knee jerk reaction as companies realise the cost of losing a valuable employee.

Do they work? Sometimes. But more often than not, employees end up leaving a few months down the line anyway. You see, counter offers create doubt and damage relationships, making it hard to trust. Here are two examples of how this often plays out:

An employee may accept a counter offer on the promise that things will change. They’ll have more autonomy to make decisions and run their team the way they want to. Or they’ll, be allowed more flexibility and be able to work remotely. But when they try to actually take up these promises, they’re met with resistance or excuses. The employee quickly loses trust and becomes disillusioned. This is made worse by the knowledge that they gave up a great opportunity because they wanted to remain loyal. They end up leaving anyway.

A candidate who has accepted an offer, comes back with a counter offer from their current employer. They may even state that they don’t really want to stay, but the counter offer is so good that they’re considering it. For the new employer this is a red flag as it shows that employee is willing to play two companies off against one another to get more pay. It’ll make the new company doubt whether they really want to hire them as they’re likely to leave when the next best offer comes along.

These examples highlight how quickly doubt can lead to mistrust, and how it can hinder career progression. Be mindful of this when you’re looking to make a move, and make sure you’re moving for the right reasons.