Picture the scene: you’re having a normal day at work then all of a sudden your star employee takes you by surprise and hands their notice in. Stunned, you ask them to reconsider and quickly throw together a counter-offer that might just convince them to stay.

But it’s no good. They’ve made their mind up and you’ve now got a month to find someone new to replace them. So, what was your mistake? Was your counter-offer not up to scratch? Could you have thrown more incentives in there that might have made them change their mind? Would any counter-offer have been enough?

It’s hard to say because it all comes down to the individual employee and situation… but the subject of counter-offers has always been a tricky one for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the problem with counter-offers is that they’re… well, a counter-offer. Your employee has already had their head turned by one amazing offer – so you’re always going to be playing catch-up with any offer you put forwards. The bar has already been set by this new company, so it’s now up to you to meet it, and even beat it, if you want to hold onto your employee.

Secondly, sorry to break it to you – but your employee must have already been unhappy at your business if they’ve been looking elsewhere and reached the point where they now have a formal offer of employment elsewhere. This means that you’re actually on the back foot, because, for whatever reason, your employee has had some bad experiences with your company or doesn’t feel like there’s enough opportunity at your business. In comparison, the idea of working for a new company that seems to have lots of promise can definitely be enticing, even if it’s not actually that great in reality. In some cases, it definitely can be a case of the “grass is always greener” syndrome…

jobs counter-offer

Thirdly and finally, the problem is the nature of the counter-offer itself and the fact that things have come to a point where you’ve had to put a counter-offer together. Think about it; your employee is unhappy, finds a new job, tries to hand their notice in then you suddenly come back with an amazing counter-offer that they’ve always dreamed of. Rightly or wrongly, the fact that you’re only putting a counter-offer together now can suggest to the employee that you only care now that you’re at risk of losing them. Would you have offered them the same deal if they hadn’t wanted to leave? Probably not… and therein lies the issue.

When you consider those points and the fact that, according to some sources, most employees that accept a counter-offer leave within six months anyway, it can feel like putting together a counter-offer is a waste of time and effort… but that’s not always the case.

In some cases, the employee might not really want to leave but they might feel like they’re a bit stuck at your business and not really progressing. In this situation, it’s possible to put together a counter-offer that reminds them that they’re still a valued member of your team and there’s still lots of room to progress and develop within your business – in this case, it’s just about giving them the reassurance and information that they need.

Similarly, there are times when the employee feels like they don’t really have any option but to leave because their situation has changed and they don’t feel like there are opportunities for them at your business. If this isn’t the case, with a counter-offer it can just be a matter of setting the record straight and finding the right new position for them within your business.

That said, when it comes to putting together an effective counter-offer, there are a few things you need to remember:

1. Be Honest:

In situations like this, it’s best to be completely transparent and honest with the employee. If you feel like the new opportunity would be better for them, tell them. Similarly, if you’re shocked by the offer and didn’t realise they were unhappy, tell them. Remember, honesty counts for a lot… and it might even be what they’re looking for.

2. Discuss The Situation With Them:

When someone hands their notice in, it can be easy to take it personally and not want to discuss the details with them, but you really need to. Find out why they want to leave, what they feel is missing from their current job and if they’d be willing to stay if you offered them the right incentives. In some cases, the employee might have already made their mind up… but as I said earlier, sometimes it can be less clear cut. What’s more, if you discuss the situation with them, you might uncover a major issue within your business that’s upsetting all your employees – and one that’s easily fixable.

3. Put Together A Unique Offer:

The most effective counter-offers are successful because they’re unique to the employee and really meet their needs and expectations. Remember, employees want to feel valued as an individual – and a unique counter-offer is the perfect way to show them that you’ve listened to them and acted in response. Yes, putting together a unique counter-offer can be time-consuming but if it leads to a commitment and a better working relationship with your employee, isn’t it worth it?

4. Don’t Forget Your Other Members of Staff:

When it comes to putting together a counter-offer, you need to think carefully. Yes, you might want to pull out all the stops to keep this employee – but you need to be careful not to annoy every other member of staff in the process. Remember, people talk… so sooner or later if the employee decides to stick with you, details of the offer are going to get out… so make sure you can justify the details if questioned.

So there you go; a few things to consider when you’re faced with the task of putting a counter-offer together.

We’re definitely keen to hear your thoughts on this one. Are you an employee who’s accepted a counter-offer? Or an employer who’s successfully had a counter-offer accepted? Leave us a comment below of tweet us – @BubbleJobs.