By Simone Lockhart


With all the talk around 2021 being the year of the "great resignation", what do we do when that email, letter or conversation actually hits us? Do we accept our loss and get into replacement mode, or do we create a way to turn that resignation around with a counter-offer?

In some cases we’re happy to accept that people move on, but more often than not it’s our most valued employees who have been tempted away, and the impact of losing them can be pretty significant.

We then enter the dread-zone of having to find a replacement, train them and wait months, maybe even longer, for our new hire to be as productive as their predecessor. All of that in what is currently a hugely competitive recruitment market where good candidates are hard to find – it’s right up there among the most stressful things that a manager will face.

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So creating a counter-offer seems like the most sensible thing to do – but is it? Scary statistics show that only 10 per cent of counter-offers result in an employee staying beyond 12 months. And with 80% leaving within six months of the offer being initially successful, are we just putting off the inevitable?

Often what we can fix is not the main reason for someone actually moving on. A counter-offer usually starts with an increase in salary or benefits – and of course money talks – but is it only money that tempted them away in the first place?

What we need to do is understand all the elements that made them consider a move: is it the company, manager, job content, flexibility, lack of career opportunity or a mixture of them all? We then need to realistically assess what we can do to address each of these without creating a bigger issue by all our other staff finding out and asking for the same.

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Whatever is part of the counter-offer, we need to be 100% committed to delivering on our promises – all of them. One thing’s for sure: falling short will not only see them resign again, but this time we might also have a disgruntled leaver who’s more like to share with others where they have been let down.

The big question for employees is whether you should accept a counter-offer. You’ve now highlighted that you're unhappy in some way, your employer knows it's likely only a matter of time before your head is turned again, so are they just buying time to get someone lined up to replace you? Has the loyalty bond been broken?

Of course, prevention is always better than cure. If we do let people go, or if our counter-offer is unsuccessful, then we must always make sure we do an in-depth exit interview,. The least we can do is learn from the experience and ensure we’re addressing common themes that’ll make our organisation a better place for people to work – and stay.

Simone Lockhart, commercial director of the Taranata Group, is a guest writer on behalf of s1jobs.