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Counteroffers: how engaged are your employees?

​There is nothing more frustrating to a hiring manager than a counteroffer. You have invested your time and resources throughout a, sometimes lengthy, process only to find out at the last minute that your first-choice candidate has decided to stay put. Did they know this from the start? Or was this genuinely a surprise to them?

On the flip side, maybe you are the manager, and you are finding that you are having to make a counteroffer to your employees just to retain them. This can also be a painful process and leave you questioning your employee's commitment to their role.

Either way, there may be actions you can take to prevent this situation from arising. We have been seeing a lot of counteroffers in this current candidate-led market and it has raised the question of “how engaged are your employees?”

Why are counter offers happening?

There are a variety of reasons why counter offers are becoming more prominent in the current market. The lack of available talent has meant there is more choice for candidates and if they are exploring new opportunities, we first must establish what their motivation is for this.

Most of the time the initial reason for leaving isn’t just about money. Getting close to your team and asking them if they are happy is essential in finding out what their motivations are before they get to the counter offer stage.

Some of the common reasons for leaving that we hear about daily are:


Did you have a full work-from-home environment during the lockdown and now expect everyone to be back in the office? Even a hybrid 3 days in and 2 days at home won’t suit everyone. Since Covid19 we have all realised that life is too short so maybe someone in your team would like to work a condensed 9-day fortnight, or even cut down to 4 days per week.

Offering up these solutions could mean the difference between an employee feeling valued in a business that supports them versus the employee starting to explore new opportunities elsewhere.


The candidates we are speaking to are also feeling overworked or overlooked when it comes to promotions. This is a great time of year to set objectives for your team and find out what they would like to achieve in the next 6 months of the year. It just comes down to having open conversations upfront so that you are not scrambling to keep them when they come to you to resign. 

There is a lot of data around counteroffers and how many employees still end up leaving within the year that they originally resigned. One of the reasons for this is that by the time they have started to explore new opportunities then they have mentally “checked out” of their current role. The best way to overcome this is to get to the issue early.

Learning and development opportunities

Similar to being overlooked when it comes to a promotion, employees can also feel that they haven’t been given the opportunities to learn and develop in their roles. During the height of the pandemic, budgets were cut and L&D was one of the first areas to suffer. Now that the market has bounced back, showing a willingness to invest in your employees could keep them engaged in the role and feel valued by the business.

Dazzled by the higher salaries

OK, I know I said that salary isn’t always the main reason for leaving but in this current market where talent is extremely short, we have noticed huge increases in salaries being offered. If you aren’t having open conversations on a regular basis with your team about how they are valued, then you can bet someone else will be and they will probably be offering $20K extra too!

In conclusion

The other question to ask is will my current team member still have the same level of engagement if they stay after they had already explored a new opportunity and emotionally decided it was time to move on?

In this candidate short market, it is critical to get close to your team. Don’t be afraid to have authentic or even direct conversations around how happy or engaged your team members are feeling in their roles. There is so much more that can be done earlier in the process to retain your team members if you are close to them.

 This isn’t just a job for the hiring managers out there. As a recruiter, I am urging candidates to have these conversations with their leaders and explore whether there is a chance of a pay increase, better flexibility, or opportunities, to try to eliminate the disappointment of a new client believing they have secured a new team member only to have them reject the offer for a counteroffer.

If you are struggling to retain your team or are looking to grow, then contact me to arrange a confidential chat.

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