The Counteroffer – take it or walk away?

Counter offers are one of the hardest things to deal with throughout your career. They can destroy any carefully made plans and leave people feeling very confused. While counter-offers may be tempting and even flattering, as with any business deal there are a number of pitfalls that you need to be aware of.

Good sales people are hard to find and over the last couple of years, as there has been a skills shortage (especially within the reseller/ managed services space), Robertson Sumner have found that counter offers are on the up.

However, what should you do if you receive a counteroffer? Is it even worth considering?

The pros of making or accepting a counter offer

Hiring and training new employees is a very costly process and that is forgetting the process and time needed to find the right candidate! Therefore there is an obvious advantage of keeping hold of the top performers within your sales team.

Its sales, some employees are just motivated by money! – Some of your team may not actually be dis-engaged or dislike their role, they just want more money. For these individuals a counteroffer is beneficial for both the individual as well as the company as the employee in question will get a higher package but also continue to deliver for the organisation.

More responsibility and opportunities – Often employers are unware that some of the team, even though they enjoy working for the business, are desperate for more responsibility. A counteroffer is a way of not only offering an individual more money but also putting together a clear and transparent development plan showing where they can get to over time.

It’s never nice being the ’new guy’ – Starting a new job is hard and for many causes anxiety. Accepting a counteroffer means that you don’t need to go through this process and if you enjoy working with your colleagues and the company culture then this is an obvious advantage.

The cons of making or accepting a counteroffer

Even though there are a few pros of accepting or making a counteroffer, the majority of people and recognised authorities would say that there are more cons than advantages.

Where has the additional money come from? – It is obviously great to get an increase in your salary however the question you should ask is: where is this increase coming from? Is it an increase that the business had planned to give everyone in the coming months or is it coming out of another area of the business? I.e. will your bonus structure soon be completely gutted, leaving you worse off in the medium to long-term?

Loyalty and trust issues – Trust is such an important trait in any relationship, whether that be business or personal, and the fact that the employee has looked elsewhere has probably broken this trust to an unsalvageable level.

Can halt an employee’s career – 70% of employees only see accepting a counteroffer as a short-term fix for long term issues.  Even though the increase in remuneration may be a positive in the short-term it could have a negative impact on your career and how quickly you’re able to progress.

There is a reason that the employee looked elsewhere! – However important an individual is to a business there is a reason why they looked elsewhere therefore throwing more money at them probably won’t 100% change their mind. Studies have shown that only 7% of employees who accept a counteroffer will still be with the business in 18 months – so it probably isn’t a good long-term solution!

Promises are made – naturally, when an employer is desperate to keep an individual, promises are made in order to entice them to stay. These promises are often hard to keep and may never materialise, just further stalling the employee’s career.

Organisational culture doesn’t fit the employee – If an employee doesn’t fit into a certain organisational culture, then no amount of money will make them fit!


Counter offers are very occasionally a good method of keeping your top performers however in the majority of occasions by this point it’s too late!  Make sure that you have regular appraisals with your team to ensure that you’re fully aware of their short, medium and long-term goals.

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