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One of your best employees just got a job offer. Should you counter?

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Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

You’d seen the signs (such as increased absenteeism, reduced enthusiasm, decreased participation at meetings, decreased output, and so on), and you had a pretty good idea that something was amiss. But still, when one of your best employees told you she’d received another job offer, your felt a little sick to your stomach.

You hate the idea of losing this employee and of beginning the arduous (and expensive) process to replace her, only to be left with a new hire who may (but probably won’t) do the job as well as the incumbent.

So you start to think that maybe you’ll counter your employee’s fantastic new job offer with an offer of your own.

Should you?

That depends.

What’s going on in your job seeker’s head?

Nobody looks for a job who’s satisfied with her current one. On some level, then, your employee thought she could do better working somewhere else.

And she’s far from alone. According to a recent survey by recruiter platform Jobvite, 51% of employed workers are either looking for a job or are open to a new job offer.

Here are the top reasons employees start getting antsy:

  • Bad relationship with manager and/or coworkers
  • Low pay
  • Feeling underemployed/underused
  • Stress
  • Poor advancement opportunities

Even passive job seekers are looking for something their current employer isn’t offering.

Pros and cons of the counteroffer

When employees consider accepting a job offer for purely financial reasons or because they’re feeling mildly unappreciated but overall still enjoy a good relationship with management and coworkers, a solid counteroffer may be just the thing to settle the employee’s concerns and get him back to working at top speed in no time flat.

But these situations are pretty rare.

More often, people are good and ready to move on by the time another job offer comes along.

In these cases, your counteroffer will be too little, too late, and if your employee accepts it, both of you may end up regretting the decision.

Because counteroffers are a bad idea when:

  • The employee has truly outgrown the position. Let him go, already.
  • The employee has become so embittered about the company (and you) that there’s very little hope for a good relationship going forward.
  • The offer is made mostly to avoid change.
  • The offer is made with even a hint of reluctance. While you appreciate the employee’s output, now you’re wondering if every time he doesn’t like something he’ll start job seeking. (I’m not saying he will, but if you have doubts that’ll affect the relationship, you shouldn’t counteroffer.)
  • You’ve already announced to everyone that the employee is leaving. (Yes, that’s happened. And while you may think that your other employees don’t know what’s going on, they do, and they now have a lower opinion of the company for it.)
  • The employee is less than top notch. A better bet is to take this opportunity to revamp the job description and find a new employee who’s strong in all the areas that matter to you most.

Money is important, but there are certain problems it simply can’t resolve.

If your employee wants assignments, recognition, a working environment, or a leadership style your company can’t provide, a counteroffer will only prolong the inevitable while stunting his development and, quite possibly, yours.

Want to learn more about managing and reducing turnover at your organization?
This whitepaper from PayScale may help: http://resources.payscale.com/hr-whitepaper-turnover-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly.html

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