OPINION | Here are 5 reasons why you should be wary of accepting a counter-offer after resigning

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Agreeing to continue to work in the same place you've hated won't make it less loathsome when they pay you more or promote you just to keep you from resigning.
Agreeing to continue to work in the same place you've hated won't make it less loathsome when they pay you more or promote you just to keep you from resigning.

You cannot believe your luck.

You successfully applied for another job, negotiated a good salary, then tendered your resignation. But your employer won't hear of it.

"How much are they offering to pay you? We can counter that," says your boss who is emphatic they do not want to accept your resignation. They value you too much and willing do whatever it takes to keep you.

So you decide to stay – only to find that the actual reasons why you wanted to leave in the first place aren't magically solved by the fact that you are now earning more.

The toxic boss remains toxic; the impossible deadlines and lack of regard for employees' mental wellness and work-life balance remain; the unsupportive, fear-driven environment where people are scared to share their ideas or make mistakes also remains.

In short, the non-money related reasons you wanted to leave in the first place have not gone anywhere.

Staying, therefore, may mean misalignment with your values because you've now been given more money or a different title.

But the thing/s about the company culture or values or ways of working which were irksome to you are still there. This then affects your mental health and makes you to feel stuck. So when you're faced with a counteroffer, ask yourself if this alters your reason to leave.

If it doesn't, then it's time to go.

Simply put, you need to be very clear about why you're leaving in the first place and not use a counter-offer as leverage to earn more money. If you reach a point of wanting to leave an organisation for whatever reason, leave.

Negotiating in bad faith like this also not only dents your reputation in your industry if the other employer decides to put you on a "naughty list", but it erodes the relationship of trust between you and your current employer.

Counter-offers may seem like a good idea at the time, but in a lot of cases, the fact that you've shown intention to leave alters the loyalty and trust relationship between you and the employer a great deal. Furthermore, you may receive lower increases than others in future and be reminded of the extra 25% or however much you were given as a counter-offer when you threatened to leave.

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The fact of the matter is that many of us have found ourselves being a job in which we wished we had negotiated better – more money, more or less responsibilities, more room for growth and opportunities to work home, whatever the case may be.

Many an employee has found themselves thinking they wish there was a way to renegotiate some of the things they agreed to when they either first joined an organisation, or at their last performance agreement or increase discussion.

Some brace for impact and broach these tough conversations with their employers, while others start looking for employment elsewhere in a bid to leverage an offer from elsewhere to coerce their current employer to be more agreeable to renegotiating terms.

In some cases, this goes excellently, and your employer comes to the party and gives you what you wanted and both parties return to the cordial relationship which was enjoyed before the anxiety causing, "we need to talk", line was said.

In other cases, however, the topic of wanting to leave because another company is interested can end with your current company saying, "okay bye, all the best and good luck".

The key is tact, timing, having honest conversations with yourself before others and knowing what you want.

If you're happy where you're working, but just need more money, find a way to ask for more money.

Here are 5 big risks that can come from leveraging another job offer to get a "pay increase"

Applying elsewhere then hoping to manipulate your way into the increase of your dreams, can backfire terribly and end with you leaving your current employer when you weren't not quite ready to.

Research has shown that as many as 85% of candidates who accept a counteroffer, end up leaving their organisation anyway within 12 months of accepting the counteroffer. Here are five ways accepting the counter-offer can backfire.

  • If your counteroffer includes a promotion or job title change, this may create the perception you "forced" the employer's hand, rather than that you were given the promotion on merit, which can tarnish your reputation.
  • It could also place you at odds with colleagues who had their sights on the same position or even those who felt there was a more deserving candidate in the team.
  • Accepting a counteroffer impacts your personal branding in relation to the other company you had agreed to join, but are now turning down.

From what I recall during my years in recruitment, the possibility of a counter-offer is always discussed at length and the candidate always assures all parties involved that they won't even consider it because they're excited about the move to the new company, or whatever other reasons they give.

  • Imagine the impression you leave with the new company when you now accept the counter-offer? It can make you seem indecisive, like you don't really know what you want, and it may come across as though your goal was always to use the new company to get more out of your current employer.
  • Some organisations add candidates who accept counter offers to a "naughty list" which may make it harder for you to join that organisation at a later stage should you wish to apply again. This is worth considering, especially if the new organisation is an employer of choice in South Africa or the world.

Whether it be lack of opportunity, terrible culture or limited career growth – once you've made a well thought out decision to leave, leave. Be careful of resigning, then being lured back in by a counteroffer.

Ultimately, as an employee, strive to own whatever decision you make and action you take. Whether it goes fully according to plan or backfires in the worst way. Own it.

Remember, you thought it through, you researched it, you decided, and you went full steam ahead.

Now, no matter what happens, don't let regret make you feel like a loser who doesn't know what they're doing. If you end up somewhere different to where you thought you were going, use the opportunity to grow and learn.

In about 15 years of employment, I've had many jobs where I felt like this was the best decision ever, but I've also had one or two where on the very first day, I had an underlying feeling that this is a big mistake.

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It's what you do next that either propels you forward or leads you down the path of self-sabotage.

In life, especially when it comes to your career, you either win or you learn. Frame it accordingly and you'll always end up winning.

Siwe Sibeko is a human resources consultant and motivational speaker.

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