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Market Insights SEEK Employment trends How to Counter-Offer with an Employee Who Has a Better Job Offer
How to Counter-Offer with an Employee Who Has a Better Job Offer

How to Counter-Offer with an Employee Who Has a Better Job Offer

Learn how to deal with counter offers when an employee is considering another job.

It is inevitable that you will have workers that would like to leave your employ. It could be difficult for companies and employers to decide whether or not to match an employee's job offer, as this decision can impact other employees as well. Since turnover is unavoidable, it may not always make sense to match every offer. Your decision to either retain or let an employee go should be carefully weighed before making a decision.

How to react and what to say when an employee has another job offer

1. Congratulate them Start by congratulating your employee on receiving another job offer. This shows that you recognise their hard work and achievements and that you're happy for them.

2. Ask for more details Ask your employee about the other job offer, including the salary, benefits, and job responsibilities to help you understand the employee's motivations for considering the other offer.

3. Provide support Offer to provide support during the transition process, such as helping with the handover of responsibilities or writing a recommendation letter.

Understanding why an employee is leaving 

It's natural to want to understand why an employee has decided to leave their job for better employment elsewhere. This can help to maintain a positive relationship and potentially lead to future collaborations or referrals. You can also gain valuable insights into your employee's decision to leave and use that information to improve the employee experience at your company.

1. Have an exit interview An exit interview is a meeting with the departing employee to discuss their reasons for leaving. This interview can help gain insights into their motivations, concerns, and feedback about their experience with the company.

2. Ask open-ended questions During the exit interview, ask open-ended questions that encourage the employee to share their thoughts and feelings in detail. Some examples of questions include: What motivated you to accept the new job offer?

3. Listen actively When conducting the exit interview, listen actively and avoid interrupting the employee or getting defensive. This will help you to fully understand their perspective and show that you value their feedback.

4. Consider the big picture Consider what else could be behind your employee’s decision to transfer to another company, such as company culture, compensation and benefits, opportunities for growth and development, and work-life balance.

5. Follow up After the exit interview, follow up with the employee to thank them for their feedback and to let them know that you take their input seriously.

What to do if you want to keep your employee

1. Express interest in retaining them Let your employee know that you value their contributions to the company and that you're interested in keeping them.

2. Be open to negotiation If they're leaving because of salary or benefits, be open to negotiating a raise or better benefits package.

3. Consider a counter-offer If they are an integral part of your team and you're not able to find a suitable replacement immediately, consider making a counter-offer.

4. Don't pressure the employee Avoid pressuring your employee to stay if they've already made up their mind to leave. Respect their decision and make the transition process as smooth as possible.

Evaluate your employee’s current and potential value

1. Review their performance Review the employee's performance over the past year or six months, depending on your company's review cycle. Examine both their strengths and areas for improvement.

2. Evaluate their skills Assess the employee's current skills and knowledge and consider whether they have the potential to develop new skills or take on additional responsibilities.

3. Look at their potential for growth Do they have the desire and ability to take on new challenges? Have they demonstrated leadership qualities or other strengths that could contribute to the company's success?

4. Analyse their cultural fit Look at factors such as their values, work style, and attitude. Consider whether they align with the company's culture and values.

5. Consider their impact on the team Look at factors such as their ability to collaborate, their contribution to team morale, and their potential to mentor and coach other team members.

Use your intuition to assess the value of an employee

Intuition can be helpful by enabling you to perceive non-verbal signals, draw on personal experience, and make quick judgements. Nonetheless, it's still crucial to supplement your intuition with objective data to make informed decisions.

1. Gut feelings Sometimes, your intuition can provide you with a gut feeling about an employee's value that may not be immediately apparent based on their skills and qualifications. 

2. Non-verbal cues Picking up on non-verbal cues from the employee, such as their body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions is a good way to intuit the employees’ motivation, work ethic, and personality traits that may be difficult to detect through other means.

3. Personal experience Your past experiences can help you to make more informed decisions about the employee's potential for success and the value they bring to the company.

4. Speed Intuition can help you to make quick decisions based on your instincts and past experiences.

5. Bias Intuition can also help detect biases that may be affecting your assessment of the employee's value. By being aware of your biases, you can make more objective and fair assessments of the employee's potential.

Pros and cons of making a counter-offer


1. Retaining top talent Counter-offering can help you retain top-performing employees who are valuable to the company and difficult to replace.

2. Cost savings It can be more cost-effective to retain an existing employee than to hire and train a new one.

3. Improved employee morale Counter-offering can demonstrate that the company values its employees and is willing to invest in them.


1. Damaging trust Counter-offering can damage the trust between the employee and the company, especially if the employee feels that they had to threaten to leave to get a better offer.

2. Increased turnover Even if the employee accepts the counter-offer, they may still feel dissatisfied and may leave in the future.

3. Equitability If you offer a significant increase in compensation to the employee who is leaving, it can create equity issues with other employees who are performing at the same level but are not considering leaving.

Is your employee bluffing?

If you suspect that an employee may be bluffing about leaving their job, it is important to approach the situation carefully and gather as much information as possible before making any decisions. It is important to keep in mind that even if an employee is bluffing about leaving, there may still be underlying issues that need to be addressed to ensure their satisfaction and productivity in the job. By taking a proactive approach and addressing any concerns, you can help to retain top talent and build a strong team that is committed to the success of the company.

1. Schedule a meeting

Arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss their intentions and reasons for leaving. Try to have an open and honest conversation without being confrontational.

2. Ask questions

During the meeting, ask the employee why they are considering leaving and what factors are motivating their decision. Try to determine if there are any specific issues or concerns that can be addressed to help retain them.

3. Consider their behaviour

Take note of the employee's behaviour leading up to the meeting. Have they been vocal about their dissatisfaction, or have they been performing well with no indication of wanting to leave?

4. Review their history

Look at the employee's work history and performance reviews. Have they expressed concerns about their job before? Have they given any indication that they are unhappy or considering leaving?

5. Consider your options

You can take steps to address any underlying concerns or issues that may be causing them to consider leaving, such as offering additional training or a change in job responsibilities. You can also choose to take a more hands-off approach and wait to see if the employee follows through with their intentions.

Ready to apply these tips for negotiating with employees who have another offer? Register now on Jobstreet to stay updated on the latest talent acquisition and management trends on the Employers Insights page. Plus, get instant access to over 5 million potential employees in Malaysia through Talent Search.

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