In Todays War on Talent Counter-Offers are Increasing - This is How Our Clients Sidestep Them

As the fight on talent continues to place pressure on businesses to secure and retain the best individuals, counter offers are a sure fire tactic being used.  Lets face it, no one particularly likes this as a situation. In fact it’s darn right ugly.

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Headhunting can be a double edged sword, especially if candidates are not moved through the process in the right way. However, the fact remains, the higher the quality of your 'passive' candidate the greater the likelihood of the dreaded counter offer.

In my experience, persuasion is futile once you're in the thick of a counter offer situation. This comes across a last ditch sales pitch and demonstrates they do not have the candidates' best interests at heart.

If both you as an employer (and main stakeholder in the process) and your Search partner have gone through a robust process from the start of engaging with the shortlisted candidates, you should have fleshed out any teetering towards a counter offer.

Key questions I always ask;

1. Why were you considering a move in the first place? Is it purely remuneration driven? If not, these factors will still be inherent moving forward. This should be done at the earliest interviewing stage, if not prior to this.  Communication with the client is essential, especially as you can both then leverage these concerns at latter stages of the process.

2. Why wasn't the candidate recognised on merit rather than on resignation? Again, this should be qualified early into the process - are there any avenues for their current employer to promote the candidate; is the candidate using this process to speed up any internal process?  If so, advance with caution. 

3. Is your current employer viewing your pay increase as a cost saving against the price of recruiting?  Most certainly this is the case, especially in today’s market!

4. How would staying affect your working relationships moving forward? (As you have shown that you are willing to leave, will your loyalty always be questioned?) Does this leave a bad (or, at the very least, awkward) relationship between the two parties?

I personally would advise removing the financial element completely in your head and consider how happy you would be should you decide to stay. On a day to day basis the financial adjustment alone will rarely offset the 'grinds' of the role – especially when the taxman takes at least 40% of any additional advancement in pay!

It's of little surprise 80% of people who accept a counter offer leave within the next year at which point 'one bitten, twice shy' will be etched in the minds of many for good.  Ultimately the facts speak for themselves and no level of 'persuasion' will change the individual's mind. With the above in mind, should you find yourself in a counter offer situation, the best approach is to give the candidate time (with a well communicated deadline) to ponder various scenarios. 

About the author
Mark Goldsmith
3 min read

With 21 years of recruitment experience under his belt, Mark has spent the last 17 focused on Building Products & Construction

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