Counteroffers are nothing new in the competitive financial hiring market.
However, as skill shortages continue to grow, and the Great Resignation drives increased turnover, counteroffers are becoming more common. Today’s companies can’t afford to lose crucial financial talent, and many business leaders are willing to do whatever it takes to convince employees to stay.
For an employee, receiving a counteroffer can be tempting and flattering, particularly with the promise of more benefits and higher pay. However, accepting a counteroffer from your current employer could mean you miss out on genuine opportunities to reach your career goals.
So, how do you reject a counteroffer without burning bridges with old employers?
Here’s everything you need to know about navigating counteroffers.
Understanding Counter Offers
Before we dive into the strategy you can use to reject a counteroffer, it’s worth defining this term. A counteroffer is an employer’s offer to a current employee to encourage them to stay within the team.
It’s a common method employers use to retain critical team members and avoid searching for and recruiting new talent. Usually, counteroffers come with several attractive benefits, such as more flexible work or a higher salary.
Employers make counteroffers to:
- Avoid cost and disruption: Replacing an existing employee, particularly in a skills-short sector like finance, can be costly and time-consuming. The recruitment process, training, and onboarding expenses all add up, making a counteroffer a more appealing alternative.
- Maintain expertise: Long-standing employees are equipped with expertise and business-specific knowledge valuable to an organisation. A counteroffer can help companies retain valuable and experienced staff members.
- Ensure project continuity: Losing a key employee during a crucial financial project can hinder progress, productivity, and efficiency. Employers may use counteroffers to minimise the risk of disrupted timelines and setbacks.
The Short-Term Fix
Counteroffers often seem attractive on the surface. Employers work hard to ensure their offer is more appealing than the external job offer the candidate already has. This could mean offering extra training and development opportunities, bonuses, and higher salaries.
However, counteroffers rarely address the core issues that caused an employee to decide they wanted to leave in the first place. Essentially, they’re a short-term solution to a more complex problem and feature several downsides employees need to consider, such as:
- Problems with professional relationships: Even if an employee accepts a counteroffer, there’s a chance the trust between the staff member and their employer has already begun to diminish. Business leaders may question their loyalty and provide fewer opportunities.
- Underlying issues: A counteroffer rarely addresses the reasons an employee chooses to leave a business. The offer may not eliminate problems such as job dissatisfaction, lack of growth prospects, or cultural misalignment.
- Reputational damage: In some cases, accepting a counteroffer could impact an employee’s professional reputation in the finance sector. Future employers may see them as less committed to seeking a new role.
Politely Declining a Counter Offer: The Steps
Declining a counteroffer can seem like a daunting process. As excited as you may be about moving into your new role, you don’t want to damage your relationship with a previous employer. It’s important to preserve your professional reputation and your network.
Here are the key steps to follow to ensure your success.
Step 1: Express Gratitude
First, showing your existing employer that you appreciate their desire to keep you on their team is important. There’s a good chance your employer has jumped through various hoops to ensure their offer is more appealing than the multiple offers you may already have.
Thank your employer for the counteroffer and the opportunities they’ve given you during your career. This forms the foundation for an ongoing professional relationship.
Step 2: Explain your Decision
State clearly that you’re declining the opportunity, and give a short yet honest reason for your decision. While it might be tempting to say “No thank you” most employers will push you for an explanation. After all, getting feedback from employees helps businesses to grow.
Share an authentic reason for leaving, but avoid saying anything too negative. For instance, if you feel the company culture isn’t right for you, explain what you’re looking for in a different role. Tell your employer you’re looking for new opportunities or personal growth.
Step 3: Stay Professional
Crucially, while it’s important to be clear and honest when rejecting a counteroffer, it’s also essential to avoid saying anything that might harm your reputation or your relationship with your previous boss. Avoid making negative remarks about the company, your manager, or your current role.
Don’t blame anyone in your team directly for your reason to leave or make aggressive comments. This could mean you miss out on opportunities in the future.
Step 4: Provide Ample Notice
Remember, replacing any employee in the financial industry is difficult and time-consuming. Don’t throw your previous employer under the bus by letting them know you’re leaving during an important project. Ensure your employer has time to find someone to replace you.
Check your employee guidelines for insights into how much notice you need to give before you leave, and try to help with the transition process. Offer to train a new employee or help transition a project to another department.
Step 5: Look for Ways to be Helpful
Helping your employer handle the complexity of filling your role could impact your professional reputation.
If you know someone in your team or outside the business who can fill your role quickly, offer a referral. This will help to ease the transition for your boss.
Declining Counteroffers The Right Way
As attractive as counteroffers may be, they’re rarely the right option for a financial professional searching for growth. Around 9 out of 10 candidates who accept a counteroffer leave their current employer within the next 12 months.
If you believe moving into a new role is the right decision, knowing how to decline a counteroffer professionally is crucial. Be polite, professional, and positive, and you can move on to the next stage of your career without burning any bridges.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, ranging from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly.
To learn more, contact one of our team today, or call us on 01282 930930.