Whether you’re a job seeker or an employer, no one is immune from the affliction of a counter offer, and ignoring its root cause only makes this situation worse. How do I know? Because I’ve seen it all and lived to tell. My name is Jean Filipiak, and I’m a certified brain-based recruiter with years of people data to my name. I wasn’t always this interested in the “why” behind an accepted counter offer, but more so in the recruiter’s version of the “fight or flight” response during a negotiation for potential hires. So clearly, I’m biased as I live in constant fear of the notice phase throughout a job acceptance process when placing candidates.
Fast forward to today and somehow, I’ve found myself partnered with a group of people scientists at APA Solutions who live for studying patterns. Thank you to Joan Graci and Erikson Neilans, Ph.D. for forcing me to see the stories beyond face values.
So, as I looked at the research from both an in-house and external perspective, the data was pretty clear. Whether you’re an employer or a job seeker, counter offers just don’t work out in the end for both organizations small and large. If you’re looking for the numbers, it’s less than 20% of the time to be exact. From either an acceptance or offer perspective, the exchange is largely based on emotion versus logic. Many times, a job seeker has decided for a variety of reasons to leave an organization, and rarely does a renegotiation upon exit change that. However, we typically find that employers go right to that holy crap place in their head, especially if it’s a pivotal role. This is what we call a “fix it now” reaction that quickly evaporates once reason sets in.
So, how do you take the steps to avoid this conundrum? Here’s how:
Write it down
Job seeker: Have a career plan. Even if it just highlights the next role. Take a skills inventory and choose an employer that gets you to that next stretch. Once written, you’ll be less apt to accept a counter that doesn’t make good career sense.
Employer: In Joan’s words, employees are sick and tired of word vomit that employers love to spill. They desire to understand, in writing form, where their career can go. This goes back to our brain research and the important connections made within an employee’s brain. Everyone, regardless of level, has a fundamental need to understand how the work they do makes a difference. Not to mention the fact that our brain responds better to goals in writing form.
Think big picture
Job seeker: Visualize the type of company that you’d like to be part of. It’s easier to identify a best fit partner when you’ve put in the time to do so. Use every opportunity to get to know possible employers. This laser focus will keep your attention on the outcome, and provide confidence when you give notice that you’re ready.
Employer: Stop ignoring turnover. There is a real story and no excuse that you can make up to justify it. Get rid of the “it’s about the money” theory because the data disputes that myth. Take off the blinders, and find out what’s really going on.
Do the math
Job seeker: Like any monumental decision you make in your life, you have to look at the math behind it and ask yourself if you are willing to play the odds. 80% of people who accept counters are gone within 6 months. It also hurts during times of review.
Employer: I know there is one fiscal focus: external sales. But the cost of turnover can’t be ignored. It’s at the highest level in American history and contrary to popular belief, it’s not because of the millennial generation.
Job seeker: You’ve made a commitment on what is assumed is a thorough vetting process. It says a great deal about character when you accept a role and then change your mind. The employment world can get small really fast.
Employer: It’s hard to find the love again once someone’s given notice. Companies quickly lose the respect of employees who are aware of the counteroffer, and it could affect your whole pay scale organizationally. The message you’re sending that you need to leave to gain a competitive advantage is a horrible one.