In one of our regular series of articles on recruitment topics, George Thompson of Harrison Scott Associates warns about the counter offer. Things are often never the same again alter a resigning employee is persuaded to stay
A CITY PRINT sales executive hands in his notice after receiving a respectable job offer and then decides to stay after he receives a counter offer. The accepted norm is that when a valuable member of staff resigns his or her position, a counter offer is made. But after a relatively short period of time, we usually receive a call saying: You were right, everything was OK in the beginning, but things have gone sour.
It would be reasonable to think that nothing would change after a counter offer is accepted. However, there are a number of negative factors that affect both the employee and the employer. When an employee hands in his or her notice, inevitably, a number of hasty meetings with the directors are set up to persuade the individual to stay. This tends to contradict the norm in the business world as it is accepted that most business decisions are made with time and consideration; counter offers are knee jerk reactions. After a counter offer has been accepted, and the dust has settled, the employer then starts to have misgivings as to the loyalty of the employee usually leading to mistrust.
The employer’s suspicions escalate — "Mr. or Ms X must have skived off a lot to attend those job interviews, "In all my years in business, nobody has put a gun to my head before", The others have found out about the rise and they are looking for more money too", and so on.
And the employee, after a short period of time, also harbour's doubts. "Will I have to threaten to leave the next time I am looking for a raise?' Have I alienated the rest of the staff? I’m sure they have found out how much more I am getting’.
As Steve Hayden of Print Selection says: Around 60% of the people who are made a counter offer and stay, are back on the Phone to us within months. The main reason is that their employers feel they have breached the loyalty bond. The relationship is never the same again."
Jonathan Malyon of M Associates says: I feel the reason many staff who accept counter offers find themselves back on the market within a short time is that their bosses never totally forgive them. Managing directors of printing companies are in their position because they have strong leadership skills and robust personalities. Being forced to pay someone more money, when they didn’t really want to, leaves a bad taste in their mouths which leads to the ultimate deterioration of their relationship.’
Then there is the other side of the coin. In a recent situation, one commercial sales executive, who had been working for a package of £35,000 was offered £42,000 to join another printing firm. Within hours of him handing in his notice, his employer offered him the same money to stay. The candidate said to us: How could I have been worth £35,000 a year in the morning and then £42,000 by lunchtime/ Does this mean that I have been underpaid for the past few years?" You do not have to be Einstein to work out that this candidate was so insulted it further reinforced his decision to leave.
Due to the scale of this problem, our consultants give counselling to candidates at the time when an offer is made. Our best piece of advice is this — do not accept a job offer unless you are 100% convinced you wish to go through with it. If you feel your company will offer you more money, approach your boss and ask for more and justify your worth without the threat of handing in your notice. This way, if you are offered more money, you will know that it is 100% genuine and it was without the threat of leaving.