High-performance employees are in high-demand across all industries so although it’s sometimes unexpected when a top performer submits their resignation, it’s easy to understand how they received a good offer. Given how expensive it is to replace somebody new — recruiting, onboarding, etc. — every employer would rather keep their best employees rather than lose them to the competition.
A common yet controversial strategy spoken of in all organizations is the counter-offer. When an employee quits, should you offer them more money in hopes they will stay? Some will say this is just a band-aid to a problem, and won’t last, leaving you in a similar predicament a few months down the line. Others will tell you counter-offers hurt relationships between managers, employees and team members. Still, many managers see a counter-offer as a necessary evil to keep talent and trade secrets in the company. Before making a counter-offer to an employee, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the person just bluffing about their offer?
- Why exactly have they decided to leave? Is this a problem beyond salary that a counter offer won’t really fix?
- What additional promises, such as promotions or future projects are you going to have to make?
- Will that person now “own” you in the future?
- If you counter-offer this person, will other employees consider you weak and start playing the same game?
- Are you going to be obligated to give a raise to others due to payroll policies?
- Are there non-financial benefits you can offer?
- Is there anybody internally who could get up to speed quickly?
- Will they agree to a “handover” period and stick around until the replacement is up-to-speed?
- What is your limit?
Answers to all of these questions will vary considerably and will have different meanings to different companies, depending on priorities and strategy. Remember to carefully consider all of the consequences of a counter-offer and discuss it with other managers. After all, you may be setting a precedent that is hard to follow.