At first, it seems like an ideal situation: not only are you gainfully employed, but you also have a job offer on the table. When you tell your employer that you have been offered a new position, you may be surprised if they make a counter offer.  It is natural to want to get up and do a happy dance; after all, what’s better than getting to choose between a raise/promotion and a new job?  Although this prospect is exciting, take a step back and consider your options.  Is a counter offer really an opportunity, or is it a choice that will keep you in a position that you were trying to break away from?

Reflect on Your Current Position

Before accepting a counter offer, reflect on why you took the time to apply and interview for another job (which are no easy tasks).  This includes reflecting on the issues that made you seek other employment options.  Was it that your current position wasn’t offering enough money, or was it something more?  Maybe there aren’t opportunities to move up in the company, unresolved issues with coworkers, or you are generally unhappy with the workplace environment.  In these cases, the counter offer is simply a band aid that is covering up the underlying issues, and it is better to move on to a new position.

Reputation in the Workplace

Once you have alerted your employer that you have a job offer and are interested in switching companies, you have made it clear that you are no longer interested in your position. At this point, even if you take the counter offer, your reputation and relationships in the workplace will suffer.  Your coworkers and employer will likely start treating you as a flight risk rather than a dedicated team member.

Tenure with Company

The National Employment Association found that 80% of individuals who decided to accept a counter offer were not with that same company after 6 months. One explanation behind this startling stat is that once you are known as a flight risk within the company, your employer may simply use the counter offer as a stall tactic until they can hire your replacement.  Another explanation is that although the counter offer ensured a higher salary, it does not ensure an enjoyable workplace environment.  Between employees being replaced shortly after accepting a counter offer and choosing to leave due to unresolved issues, it is apparent that taking the counter offer doesn’t often lead to a strong future in a company.

Although accepting the counter offer may be tempting, it is important to remember that a new job title and more money won’t solve the issues that caused you to seek employment elsewhere. Once you alert your employer of your plans to leave, a counter offer can feel more like bait to get you to stay rather than an opportunity within the company.