Counter offer or not to counter offer when a key member of your team resigns?

By: Steve Oldroyd

So what do you do when a key member of the team decides to resign? Do you offer the world in order to retain them? Or do you think more strategically before making a counter offer?

A natural reaction to a resignation is to quickly prepare a counter offer – losing a valued member of the team could cause issues with clients, and recruitment can be a time consuming and costly process. But, at the same time, it’s important to look at the situation from all angles and make a considered decision before presenting a counter offer.

So first things first, find out why your employee has decided to resign. Is it because they simply don’t enjoy the company culture? Is there a personality clash with other team members? Does the job no longer offer satisfaction or sufficient scope for career development? A little digging will give you a better idea of whether it’s worth making a counter offer and what that offer should be.

Any offer made has to take into consideration the reasons for leaving, so if you can’t directly address the issues – for instance, if it’s about not getting on with other people or not enjoying the working environment – there’s probably no point and accepting the resignation will be the only solution. However, if a pay rise, promotion or benefits might resolve the situation, there is the potential to put an offer on the table.

But counter offers can be counter productive in the long term

In making a counter offer to change your employee’s decision there is the possibility that it will create a ripple effect. It may upset other members of the team to see one person being treated preferentially, and resentment of any perceived favouritism may impact on morale. Equally, knowledge of the deal you’ve brokered could even be used as leverage if they want a pay rise or promotion in the future. So it’s equally important to consider the future of a specific employee in context. You may value that person as a key member of the team, but do the other team members share your view? If they want to see that person retained – if it will be beneficial to everyone involved and produce positive results – then a counter offer is the right route to take. That said, be aware that whilst you may retain that person for another six months or a year, it’s highly likely that they will still leave at some stage.

Learn from the experience

Whether you manage to retain your employee or they do still decide to leave, a resignation always provides the opportunity to learn. Take time to understand the reasons for the resignation and compare against reasons cited by previous team members who have left in the last couple of years. A pattern may be evident and you may discover that you need to address a recurring problem to create a better working environment for the team.

And if you do lose that key member of the team look on it as a chance to review the job profile for which you will now be recruiting. Would the team benefit from the introduction of new skills or expertise perhaps? Sometimes, a vacancy isn’t simply a hurdle to overcome, it can be an opportunity on which to build a stronger team.

If you need help with recruitment and want to ensure you see only the best candidates, please get in touch – we’d be delighted to discuss your requirements and the services we provide.

You might also be interested in...

More resources