TO COUNTER-OFFER OR NOT TO COUNTER-OFFER, THAT IS THE QUESTION:
Over the past 2 decades, DyNexus Recruiting has recruited, placed and hired hundreds of ERP and CRM (IT) consultants for VARs, ISVs and ERP & CRM end-user companies. One of the more common ways prospective hirers lose candidates they’re trying to hire is the candidate receives a counter-offer from their current employer and decides to stay put. As employers ourselves, even DyNexus, from time to time, is faced with an employee considering accepting a position at another company, forcing us to choose between cutting our losses and extending a counter-offer.
So, here are some thoughts about the counter-offer, whether you’re confronted with it with candidates you are hoping to hire, as an employer trying to prevent an existing employee from leaving, or as a job seeker yourself:
THOUGHT #1: general rule – counter-offers are a bad idea.
A counter-offer to an employee who is “threatening” to leave his employer is a bad idea from either side of the table. The counter-offer was motivated entirely by negative factors, not because you as an employer was moved by a desire to honor and reward the employee. From the employer’s perspective, the employee held him over a barrel, and this will be resented by the employer. From the employee’s perspective, the employer gave him what he demanded only when they were under duress, and by doing this the employee has jeopardized his future. Here’s a good article that goes into this in more detail.
Nonetheless . . .
THOUGHT #2: see you and raise you (money).
Despite #1 above, if you decide that you just need to keep the employee, and are going to make a counter-offer, there are going to be two main factors. The first is money (big surprise!). If you hope to overcome the “stigma” of only making the counter-offer when you were threatened with the employee leaving (as opposed to a positive recognition of the employee), you’re going to have to go the extra mile. Don’t match the other offer, make it a significantly better offer, and do it in a manner that will convince the employee that you genuinely appreciate him, and that you genuinely appreciate the error of your ways. Then, convince yourself that this is actually true.
THOUGHT #3: see you and raise you (career advancement).
Again, despite #1 above, if you’re going to make a counter-offer, the second factor is career advancement. If you’re going to make a counter-offer it will be much more effective if it also includes not only more money, but also a roadmap/pathway to career advancement. Sometimes, even a better title can be ego-stroking and helpful, but a real focus on improving the career opportunities for the employee will make a real difference, and again, will help convince the employee that your “awakening” is genuine, and he can trust that he won’t be resented.
THOUGHT #4: take the high road – gain trust.
The factors of money and career advancement by themselves are ultimately important, but the underlying factor is if you can’t do this in a way that makes the offer seem genuine, and is being given with positive feelings, it’s going to be mistrusted. So you have to do everything you can to demonstrate that you don’t resent being put in this position. Never utter a word of resentment or displeasure. Gain the employee’s trust that you really want to do this, and that it is well-deserved. If you can’t do this, forget about it.
I want to reiterate, counter-offers are generally a bad idea, however, if you find yourself in a situation in which you need to go this route, there are definitely ways to increase the chances of a win-win for both employer and employee. But, Hey . . .
IF IT WAS EASY, CHILDREN WOULD BE DOING IT.