The majority of employers have never made a counter-offer despite over half saying they would


Employees are unlikely to have a job offer countered by their current employer unless they are truly ‘exceptional’. Employees should avoid playing their current employer off against a new prospect in the hope that they will improve their package. Despite 57% of respondents who identify themselves as employers saying they would make a counter-offer, an overwhelming 89% say they have never made one.

This should serve as a warning to the 48% of employees who feel they would ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ be made a counter-offer if they were to resign tomorrow.

The survey of mid-to-senior finance professionals, conducted by recruiter Communicate in the first quarter of 2013, sought to examine the lengths companies are going to retain their best staff. Counter-offers – though made to look as if they have an employees’ best interests at heart – are largely deemed a Machiavellian tactic to ensure someone parts ways with a business on its terms, rather than their own.

Asked to elaborate, employers were largely unanimous in their reasoning: that a counter-offer just delays the inevitable and that resignation should not be used as a bargaining tool. One respondent answered, ‘Is this a game of ransom?’.

However, of the 16 participants who indicated that they have previously made a counter-offer, the experience was generally a positive one. Half said they would do so again, and six said it was a possibility. Many reasoned that counter-offers are “cheaper than recruiting and training a replacement”, though several respondents did suggest they would make a counter-offer with the employee in mind: “To keep someone who is highly rated and where I could make a genuine improvement to their current situation within the company”.

Of those respondents who answered as an employee, only 21% have ever accepted a counter-offer. Moreover, when asked to consider whether they would accept a counter-offer if they were to resign tomorrow, a mere 5% answered yes.

That said, of those who have accepted a counter-offer, 89% indicated that the promises of the offer had been kept – though two aggrieved respondents informed us that this was not the case for them, one saying they were “disappointed after a year”, the other that their “one year contract extension only lasted 6 months even though the job wasn’t finished”.

When asked what a counter-offer would need to include to consider acceptance, the response was similar time and again: promotion, increased salary/benefits, new challenges, a change in scope and responsibilities. Several people said that remuneration would have to be increased by at least 20% to make the offer viable.

However, numerous respondents raised concerns over the general concept of a counter-offer, with several saying they would be ‘suspicious’ of counter-offers and that explanation would be required as to “why that value wasn’t on offer before resignation”.