Managing Counter Offers

Whether you’re a recruitment consultant, in-house recruiter or business owner, the counter-offer scenario will be a familiar exasperation.   After all the hours and effort of a selection process, you’re hard won final stage candidate is offered the job, only to turn it down when offered a pay rise by their current employer, or use the counter-offer as a new bargaining chip.

Business social media sites like LinkedIn have recently run articles that trend towards why you shouldn’t accept or get drawn into counter-offers, but in our experience they at least need to be anticipated and managed, so when we found this piece by London recruiter Tara Waterman on the steps employers and recruiters can take to anticipate and resolve counter-offers, it was simply too good not to share:

Key points in anticipating and managing counter-offers:

  • Counter offers can come from multiple sources. Keep in frequent contact with your candidates to keep up to date. Want to gain better trust? Tell them they don’t have to share the company names with you.
  • Broach the subject of counter offers from the very beginning of the process. As much as many would prefer to sweep this under the carpet – it’s better for us to know now.
  • If a candidate tells you there’s nothing their employer can do to keep them? Ask them to break down the components of their role they are unhappy with – if that element was changed; would they want to stay? What if a new role all together were created for them?
  • Reconfirm at each key stage of the process:
    • “How does this role compare to your current position?”
    • “How does it feed your key motivators in ways your current role is unable to?”
    • “How does this compare to other opportunities you’re considering? Which is your priority?”
  • If your candidate accepts a counter-offer – don’t force it down their throat. That immediate jump to “80% of candidates leave their role within 6 months” screams desperation on your part. Instead, congratulate the candidate on being counter-offered. Tell them it confirms what you already knew – they are an outstanding candidate.
  • Slow down, take the pressure off, ask insightful questions and listen to the candidate:
    • “What aspects of your role will remain unchanged if you accept their offer?”
    • “How do you think your resignation will affect the dynamics with your Manager?”
    • “If you think about 2-3 years from now, where do you see that you will be with your organisation?”
  • Then you can give your view: “It can be extremely tempting to accept a salary increase. However, I will share with you that 80% of people who accept a counter-offer leave within 12 months. This is not only because the true reasons why the employee wanted to move on remain unchanged, or promises made were not kept, but also because the loyalty and stability built with the Manager and senior team are broken down.”

Remember, question your candidates. Uncover obstacles at the start of the process and support them at the end. Most importantly, if it doesn’t go your way – analyse what you could have done to change the disappointing outcome.

Key points from Tara Waterman, Talent Manager at Principle People, Burridge, UK