When it’s worth presenting and negotiating a counter offer

negotiating a counter offer

Source: Adobe Stock.

In a competitive job market, employers need to think creatively to ensure they attract and retain the best talent. One recruiting tactic many are turning to is proactively targeting candidates, which can lead to employers considering whether to make a counter offer to keep their best talent.

While there are pros and cons for making a counter offer, new research from SEEK reveals that unless the real reasons for someone wanting to leave a role are truly addressed, simply upping their salary is no guarantee an employee will be with the company for much longer. 

According to the research, over a third (37%) of people who have been presented with a counter offer accepted it, but 68% of those employees are no longer at the company and 70% didn’t stay longer than a year at their current workplace. 

However, sometimes a counter offer may make sense. Retaining a valuable employee is much more cost effective than recruiting and onboarding a new employee. 

The key lies in knowing how to structure the counter offer to help the person reconnect with the organisation and change their role, or salary, to reflect what’s important to them, says Sabina Read, SEEK’s resident psychologist.  

“If it is a team member that you really value and who has a lot of knowledge and expertise then it’s going to take a long time to rebuild some of that in somebody new. It’s always worth holding onto what’s in front of you rather than having to continually rebuild a team. The best way to do that is to talk to your employees and find out what is important to them,” says Read.

To explore more advice on how to retain your people, visit SEEK Hiring Advice. 

Ask the right questions

“Waiting until someone comes to you with the news they have been offered another job before trying to work out what will make them stay is often too late,” says Cameron Shepherd from Shape HR. 

“An employer that’s intending to make a counter offer really needs to dig a little bit deeper and ask some further questions because quite often the money is used as a proxy for some other level of dissatisfaction,” he says.

Determining whether the employee is leaving because of something that is more attractive elsewhere, as opposed to leaving because they don’t like a particular aspect of the current role is critical when considering making a counter offer.

“The reasons for leaving are generally categorised as push or pull. A pull is generally something external that is attracting someone rather than a push, which is something within the organisation, such as a conflict within a team with a manager or just sheer boredom and apathy driving them away. Once known, whether or not you can address those concerns is critical when you think about making a counter offer,” says Shepherd.

More than just money

“Discussing why someone is leaving is also an opportunity to get some very important information that could help in the future with other staff,” says Read. 

“If you open up that conversation you are getting a lot of rich data. Employers can use it as an opportunity to explore, to ask open-ended questions, to better learn as an employer, as opposed to just thinking, “How do I win this person back?’.  

“It’s certainly not always about money. It could be about flexibility. It could be about a promotion. It could be about working in another team, or learning, or growth, or ongoing education, there’s so many drivers, both intrinsic and extrinsic,” says Read.

Whatever the reason, knowing what drives employees, keeps them motivated and happy in a workplace is one of the best retention strategies to adopt — and can help keep counter offers at bay.

Read now: Does when you were born determine what you want from work?


The way we work has changed and SEEK has all the latest local insights to help you adapt and thrive. Whether you’re a business looking to attract the best talent in the competitive market, a manager wanting to retain your people or a jobseeker hoping to take advantage of the great job boom, SEEK’s advice, tools and resources can help you get there.

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