Why ‘counteroffer’ is a dirty word in Singapore HR

Singapore Business Review
Published: 21 Aug 2013
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services 
 

As tempting as it may be, never use a potential employer’s job offer as a bargaining chip to get your current company to increase your salary.
The ego boost and higher pay are but short-term gains as accepting a counteroffer will hurt your career in the long run. Here’s why.

1. It changes everything
Your employer might make you a counteroffer in a moment of panic, because there’s a huge event or project deadline around the corner and they need all hands on deck during this period.
But once they cross that hurdle, you can be pretty sure that your relationship with your boss and even your colleagues will be fundamentally changed.
The fact that you wanted to leave calls into question your loyalty. As such, you would no longer be part of the inner circle and in the worst-case scenario, you might even be ostracised by your peers.

2. You’re warming the seat for your replacement
Your company could be just buying time while they search for someone to replace you. Since your allegiance is in doubt, your employer may think that it is just a matter of time before you shop around for an even better offer.

3. You’ll be the first to be let go
By communicating a desire to leave the company, you are already demonstrating your unhappiness. Worst still if your employer suspects that you used the new offer as a negotiating tactic to get a higher pay.
No one likes to feel arm-twisted into parting with more money and if your employer has made a counteroffer, it is probably because they are desperate. So you can rest assured that you will be first in the line of fire when they are no longer desperate or when the business hits some turbulence.

4. You’ll still be unhappy
There’s a reason why you wanted to leave in the first place. More often than not, the motivating factor is not more money but things like wrong cultural fit, lack of recognition, disliking your superior or job scope, etc. These factors aren’t going to magically disappear and will still bug you as soon as the high from the pay raise wears off.

5. You’re selling yourself short
If you have been performing well and feel that a raise or promotion is long overdue, it says something about the company’s values if you have to threaten to leave in order to get an increment. Ask yourself if this is the kind of culture you even want to work in.

6. You’ll be jeopardising future promotions
Don’t be too happy if you do receive a counteroffer from your current employer – they are probably bringing forward your raise and it’s going to be a long time before you smell another one. And you may be last in line for a future promotion.

7. Your employer might call your bluff
What if the offer from the new company is genuine – but you don’t really fancy the scope and are not keen on the job? Using the new offer as a tactic to get your current employer to up your salary is risky because your employer may just be willing to let you go!

8. You may burn bridges with the new company
If you went through the entire hiring process with the new company only to accept a counteroffer from your current employer, you would have damaged your reputation with the new company.

9. It’s just bad for your career
Accepting a counteroffer is akin to your employer slapping ‘golden handcuffs’ on you. For all of the above reasons plus the fact that when word gets around that you were “bought”, you will be perceived as lacking integrity and this may keep you stuck in your career.

10. The odds are against you
At the end of the day, the odds are not stacked in your favour; it’s common knowledge that up to 80% of people who accept counteroffers either leave the company or are let go within a year.

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