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How do I… deal with counter offers?


The tug of war for talent can be a tough one indeed – especially when your competitors win and end up poaching your staff with tasty counter offers. Luckily, Francesca Randle has some advice on how best to cope under such circumstances.

As the war for talent continues to play a major part in the recruitment and retention of staff in the call and contact centre marketplace, it is important to understand how to deal with the inevitable counter offers from competitors trying to poach staff. It is a fact of life that people will move jobs for more money, but sometimes it is not just the money that constitutes the reason for moving. There are many other factors that contribute to why employees move organisations and it is vital to understand and appreciate them all.

Because finding the ideal person for every workplace position has become an increasingly difficult task, the retention of top employees has become every manager’s concern. The truth, however, is that the ‘race for talent’ can be run effectively only by those who adopt programmes and policies that truly support their personnel.

More than 85% of managers believe employees leave because they have been pulled away by ‘more pay’ or ‘better opportunity’. Yet, more than 80% of employees say it was ‘push’ factors related to poor management practices or toxic cultures that drove them out. It has therefore become imperative to understand why employees leave in order to reveal what organisations can do to identify, prevent and correct the root causes of preventable turnover.

Preventative measures

There is no doubt that the key to beating the counter offer is to avoid it happening in the first place. It is important to understand that approximately 60% of employees who wish to resign and who are persuaded to stay by their current employer leave anyway within six months. The reasons are simple. The majority of leavers don’t quote money as the main reason for leaving. Usually it’s a clash with management style, perception of having hit the glass ceiling of promotional opportunity, lack of motivation or something as simple as lack of recognition. Money plays an important role only if the employer does not stay up to date with market and salary trends.

If your staff possess skills demanded by new market entrants and/or competitors, they will be poached for their market knowledge, experience and contacts. Moreover, they will be paid a premium as the ‘poaching’ company will be buying the investment your organisation has made in training and developing them. Because of this, it is more important than ever to ensure you stay up to speed on encouraging good management practices and remuneration policy.

Beyond that, you need to understand why people leave your organisation. Look to conduct meaningful exit interviews and act upon recurring reasons. Periodically ask yourself and review the following questions, which are presented in order of the main reasons why employees become susceptible to counter offers of employment elsewhere:

1) Management – Ask yourself whether or not you are a good manager. How do other people see you? Do you develop and look after your staff? What can you do to improve as a manager?
2) Work environment – Have you created a good working environment with a strong working culture and well-organised outside work events and activities? Is there anything you can do to improve the working environment?
3) Skills and progression – Are you continuing to develop your staff and are there opportunities to develop staff and promote internally?
4) Salary – Are you offering competitive market rate salaries?
5) Flexibility – Are you able to offer flexible working to meet the requirements of your employees?
6) Benefits – Are you offering comparative benefits to your competitors?
7) Location and commutability – Are there good transport links and available car parking?

Understand your market. Keep a constant eye on industry salaries and benefits. Also, remain aware of new centres being set up and closed down.

Match the offer to retain key staff or let them go?

There is rarely a good reason to match an offer of employment elsewhere. The employee has already made a decision that they want to move. They’ve been through the recruitment process, they’ve been successful and have been offered a job that meets their criteria. Think carefully about the following factors before considering a knee jerk reaction in doing everything you can to retain an employee:

  • From the day of their resignation, their loyalty will always be in question with you and this lack of loyalty may be an obstacle to future promotions.
  • Why are you offering an employee what they deserve now, rather than before their resignation?
  • How will it appear to other employees? Will it set a precedent?
  • Has the real reason they resigned been adequately addressed?
  • Are you honestly able to keep their interest and is there a definite opportunity for the employee to progress and move up the career ladder?
  • If you can’t match their requirements and expectations in the very near future, then there is no point in keeping them. They will only look to move further on down the line.
  • If your employees are worth the increase in pay and career advancement they may be seeking, then ensure you provide them with these things well in advance of them looking elsewhere.
  • But say they decide to stay – how easy will their resignation be forgotten? They will have to work extremely hard to win back your trust.

Counter offer statistics

According to national surveys of employees that accept counter offers, 50 to 80% voluntarily leave their employer within six months of accepting the counter offer because of un-kept promises. The majority of the balance of employees that accept counter offers involuntarily leave their current employers within twelve months of accepting that counter offer due to their contract being terminated, their being fired, laid off, and so on. Most people who accept a counter-offer have subsequently left their job anyway within twelve months. In fact, a great many are gone within three to six months.
The answer is clear. There is no doubt that the key to beating the counter offer is to avoid it happening in the first place.


Francesca Randle is director at Cactus Search
Tel: +44 8702 866 904
Website: www.cactussearch.co.uk

Published On: 26th Oct 2006 - Last modified: 5th Feb 2019
Read more about - Call Centre Life


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