Why you should not accept a counter-offer


It is common for professionals to be presented with counter-offers by their employers upon announcing their resignation.

Acting as tools to dissuade employees from leaving for other firms, counter-offers could take the form of pay raises or promotions. 

They could also be promises of a promotion in the future, or an expanded portfolio with greater exposure to new and more exciting projects.

“Receiving counter-offers is quite common in Malaysia across all industries, especially in those with small talent pools,” explains Kimberlyn Lu, Country Manager of Robert Walters, Malaysia.

While such offers may tempt professionals to re-consider their resignations, here are some reasons why you should think twice before accepting a counter-offer. 

Counter-offers may not address all your reasons for leaving

Although counter-offers are often very flattering as well as potentially lucrative, remember that they do not completely solve or terminate the issues that prompted you to resign in the first place.

“Counter-offers could act as retention tools for the short term. They could compel an individual to stay back and re-consider their decision to move on – especially if the drive to change jobs is purely financial,” Kimberlyn observes.

“However, in our experience as recruiters, we find that such an effect is, very temporary. There is a high chance that the person who had accepted a counter-offer will be on the hunt for a new job within 6-12 months.  This is especially so if the reasons that motivate him or her to find a new job still exist, such as ineffective management or a poor company culture,” she concludes.

Counter-offers may waver your decision or cloud your judgement mainly because they imply that you are, suddenly, wanted by your current employer.

Candidates should consider the long-term effect of such a decision. Will bosses or colleagues’ behaviours change towards the candidate after he or she accepts a counter-offer?

However, question why it has taken the threat of resignation to prompt this appreciation of your worth and what would have happened had you not looked elsewhere.

Remember that hiring a new employee and finding talent to replace you takes time, effort, and money. Because of this, counter-offers may just be a way for employers to avoid dealing with the disruption that your departure could cause.  

Your loyalty to the firm may be questioned 

Be aware that accepting a counter-offer can lead to stigma or the perception of being disloyal to your current group and management team. This might negatively impact professional relationships.

“Candidates should consider the long-term effect of such a decision. Will bosses or colleagues’ behaviours change towards the candidate after he or she accepts a counter-offer?” Kimberlyn asks.

If you accept a counter-offer, colleagues and managers might view you as indecisive or as an unreliable team player, and lose trust in you. As a consequence, your prospects for growth in the company might become limited in the long run.

Speak to our Robert Walters consultants for more support and advice

When refusing a counter-offer, try to ensure an amicable separation with your existing organisation. 

Reassure your current manager that you came to this decision after much deliberation, resisting the urge to highlight any negative experiences. Explain that you appreciate the time spent in the organisation and the valuable experiences it has given you. 

You should also politely but clearly inform your employer that your decision to leave the organisation is firm and that you would not be interested in any discussions pertaining to a counter-offer.

If you are having doubts about how to best handle a counter-offer, speak to any of our Robert Walters consultants who can talk through your particular situation further.

For more customised career advice, please contact our specialist recruiters on +603 2303 7000 or email malaysia@robertwalters.com.

Hiring advice