Should I stay or should I go?

The topic of counter offers is an interesting one. I am sure you have seen articles and thoughts about the subject and they are usually one person’s perspective on the topic. For a somewhat different approach, we’ve reached out to people in our network to gain their thoughts and perspective on the topic.



We asked:

You have just received an offer to join a new firm. You are giving notice to leave your current position and your employer makes a “counter offer” to keep you from leaving. You start to think about whether or not to take that “counter offer.”


Not a big fan of counter-offers.  In my experience, in addition to the conscious decision to leave there is an almost subconscious detachment of the person from their current role and organization.  So even if you counter-offer to get someone to stay, a significantly high percentage of people end up leaving within a year or two anyway.

Having spent most of my career in high growth companies, if somebody is going to leave for a reason that is “counter-offerable”, they probably weren’t fully committed to your journey to begin with.

Paradoxically (perhaps), I have found that when people leave for something that turns out to be a mistake, taking them back results in a team member that more fully appreciates the opportunity so the engagement and commitment leave they come back with is that much higher.

Mark Trepanier,  Chief Operating Officer,  transformAI


For me it is about ‘why’ are they looking to leave. We had a high-potential developer communicate he was leaving last year. He was leaving to join Disney. On the surface you might say ‘wow, that’s a great company’. But he is a developer in a SaaS company leaving to join a big company to write code for internal use. Didn’t seem like the right career move. I got involved, talked to him about why he would leave / why he might stay and we created a reason for him to remain and now 8+ months later it’s been a win for both. Might he leave down the road. Sure. If he does and when he says it is time to go, I offered to connect him to every CTO I know.

There have also been other times when I have chosen to pass on a counter.  If it is just about money and it is going to raise it’s head again, I’d rather part ways now.

Jay Ackerman, President & Chief Executive Officer at Reveleer


What do counter offers tell us about the individual employment relationship?  That a counter offer is made reveals something about the employer as well as about the employee.

On the employee side, has the employee failed to effectively demonstrate his or her value to the organization?  In the current corporate world, we are each trustees of our own assets, and we have to be ready to demonstrate our current and future value to our employers.  Sometimes in the rush to make deadlines for deliverables, we fail to remind the organization how that deliverable was pulled together and the experience and care that went into it.

The first question I ask recipients of counter offers is why they resigned and if they failed to convey their restlessness and feeling that they were not valued.  If that is part of the problem, what behavioral changes will be necessary to see that it doesn’t happen again.  If it is not reasonable to expect that behavior will change, it may be wise to reject the counter offer, but doing so without changing the employee’s mind set may mean the pattern will be repeated in the new job.

Finally we should also question whether the employee failed to groom a successor and the counter is just a stop gap until a successor can be trained up or found.  If that situation exists, the long-term prospects for the employee are not great.

On the company side, counter offers frequently come about because management is not listening to its employees and pro-actively developing employees’ careers.  Again, succession planning may be faulty and that is why the counter is generated.  The immediate boss may be weak or uncaring.  Unless some organizational change is made, the employee will have the problem all over again.

Unless the root causes of the resignation and counter offer are understood, accepting a counter seldom solves any of the longer-term problems.

One exception to the balanced equation problem described above occurs when the central problem is pay.  If the employee has been straining for additional pay, and salary administration guidelines preclude a substantial increase, a counter offer with a substantial increase may be a solution that will be endure.  The employee will be satisfied in the medium term with the new number, and the company will realize that the finding, retraining and lost productivity costs entailed with a new employee exceed by far the raise that was contained in the counter offer.

Lowell Williams, Executive Director, Contingent Worker Center of Excellence at KPMG, LLC



We hope you find these perspectives interesting. If you would like to share your thoughts on this for future blogs, please let me know.


Larry Janis, Managing Partner I Integrated Search Solutions Group



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