Counteroffers are back – should I stay or should I go?

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Posted: Jul 2022

The hiring market is active in corporate communications and thanks to Brexit and the ‘great resignation’, quite a lot of people have left the industry and are no longer available to fill roles.

This means that great talent is in short supply, especially at junior/mid-level roles, which is leaving some employers with vacancies open for months. It also means that when employees are looking to leave, it’s highly likely that the good ones will be asked to stay. Counteroffers are back!

It is in an organisation’s best interest to retain their best players if they can, so when a valued member of the team hands in their notice, managers will often try to financially incentivise the employee to stay.

Change can seem daunting and increased pay and progression is appealing, but before you accept the counteroffer, you should consider several factors.

Why will your employer counteroffer?

Increasing your salary, perhaps giving you that overdue promotion, and promising you lots of exciting things for the future often makes a lot of financial sense for an employer. When a company is down a person, some business or at least efficiency and knowledge will be lost. Then there is the cost of hiring, the energy to hire, and perhaps a recruitment fee. The time it takes to hire can last for months, placing a strain on the rest of the team picking up responsibilities, which in turn affects morale. Then there is the training of the new person, meaning further time and cost and potentially months before they become impactful. Can you see the pain an employer goes through when they receive your resignation letter? It’s a huge headache.

Remember, it is usually cheaper for an employer to keep an employee through offering a pay rise or promotion than it is to hire and train a new person, so this may be the main reason why you are being asked to stay.

Do employers always counteroffer?

Although it can be in an employer’s interest to counteroffer, some employers don’t believe in counteroffers and I must say, I’m one of them! At The Works, I think I have only ever counteroffered two employees over the many years of being an employer. My rationale is that it’s the ‘why’ that counts. I listen to why they are leaving and if it’s purely for more money and they are a good performer, then I can fix that, and I will counteroffer. However, more often than not, there are multiple reasons why employees want to move on, and they are often already excited about the new opportunity; they have one foot out the door. Counteroffering, in my opinion, is then senseless, as it’s a short-term relief, and they will soon start looking again. So, with a heavy heart, I wish them well for the future.

How genuine is a counteroffer?

While financial rewards are attractive incentives, employees are most likely to look for new job opportunities that offer them better career progression. So, accepting a counteroffer purely for the financial benefits doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel dissatisfied in your role in a few months’ time.

Would you have received this recognition of your hard work if you hadn’t handed in your notice, and if not – do you want to stay at a company that doesn’t reward its employees until they hand in their resignation?

There is a well-used stat which is frequently quoted in the recruitment industry: up to 80% of people voluntarily leave their employer within six months of accepting the deal largely because of unkept promises and the reasons (other than salary) why they were looking to leave haven’t gone away.

Where does this leave you?

Now, this decision can only come from you. It’s scary moving jobs into the unknown, especially if you have been with your company for a long time. It’s comfortable, it’s secure, and if you are working with lovely people, it can be hard to say goodbye to your friends. However, life is also about taking risks sometimes – to learn, feel challenged and step into the unknown can be exhilarating, and a job move can be just the ticket.

It’s very flattering to get a counteroffer and you may feel disloyal for leaving. Your ego will get a boost when you employer asks you to stay and promises you a shiny future. But do proceed with caution. To ensure you don’t become one of those statistics, it’s worth asking yourself the following questions:

  • Will your loyalty be in question by remaining in the job, especially if the economy gets tight?
  • Is the counteroffer just a stalling tactic to avoid short-term inconvenience or a genuine desire to progress your career?
  • Will this offer preclude next year’s bonus?
  • Do the proposed improvements eliminate the reason you went for a new job in the first place?

You will have also invested a lot of time and energy to get to this point so perhaps, before you even entertain the idea of moving jobs, consider if you want to leave or if you need to have a conversation with your employer first. Perhaps things can be improved via an open conversation before your job search begins?

The Works Search: a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email

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