39 (134) 2019
Download PDF-version

Human Resources

Counteroffer - a solution to employment struggles?

by Malwina Bugajak, consultant, Hays Poland
Header malwina bugajak


Sooner or later all employees are open to new job opportunities, even when they are quite satisfied with their current employer.

They start looking for new employment on their own or else are contacted by companies and recruiters. It's a difficult situation from the employers’ perspective; the loss of valuable and experienced staff means impending recruitment challenges. There are various incentives aimed at reduction of staff turnover, such as remuneration increases, additional benefits, promotion or opportunity to change career path within company structures. Employers intensify efforts to convince their employees to stay also by putting in counteroffers to those who declared their wish to leave the company.

On the competitive Polish market, employers have started to be more aware of the consequences of increasing demand for qualified employees. The majority of recruitment challenges result from the shortage of suitable candidates on the market. According to the latest Hays Poland salary guide, 82% of companies from various industries admit that they will consider giving a counteroffer to the selected – meaning the most valuable and difficult to replace – members of their staff. And employers are aware how difficult it is to find a suitable replacement in the current situation on the labour market. The steady increase in counteroffers has an impact on recruitment strategies; in many cases brings expected results. A survey conducted by Hays shows that in 62% of cases, employees do accept the counteroffer and decide to stay in the company.

Risky vacancies

Recruitment of a new employee has many disadvantages for organisations. It is a time-consuming process which generates additional costs. A prolonged vacancy for a position of key importance is a disadvantage that may influence the dynamics of organisational development, and threaten business objectives. The risk of such a situation is high also from the HR perspective. Even if there is someone in the organisation that is able to temporarily cover the vacancy, the excess of duties piled up upon that someone might cause them to leave.

Finding a person with similar competences, skills and experience might be a serious challenge. Taking this into consideration, employers perceive making a counteroffer as an easier solution. Sometimes a higher salary, new benefit or a promotion is enough to convince an employee to stay. In two-thirds of cases, employees who accept the counteroffer remain in the company for more than one year. Therefore, it can be assumed that it is a solution that is satisfactory to both parties involved.

Nevertheless, sometimes the issue of trust is affected. The company might try to keep such an employee for some period of time and meanwhile start searching for somebody with matching competences. Such a person will be perceived as disloyal and this fact might also be taken into consideration while deciding about future pay increases, promotion or involvement in interesting projects. On the other hand, employees who accepted counteroffers often decide that after all, the higher salary did not make them more content with their job, and after some time they leave anyway.

Counteroffer – accept or decline?

Surprisingly, it turns out that many candidates are not aware of the possibility of receiving a counteroffer from their current employer. They are often surprised and do not know how to proceed. Therefore, my advice to all professionals who plan to hand in their notice is to consider what would be their reaction if such a proposition was made. So decide what objectives would have to be met for the employee to accept the counteroffer.

The most important thing is to make a conscious and informed decision about the next career step. Counteroffers may be perceived by employees who intend to leave as a company’s sign of recognition and appreciation of their commitment and hard work. For many professionals a counteroffer is a reason to celebrate – after all their employer proves their value to the company, that they are worth fighting for. In many cases such employees decide that if they are so appreciated by the company and receive better employment package, changing jobs is not the best decision. However, as I have already mentioned, there may be also other reasons why the competitive offer is given. It is good to consider why the employer did not recognise our hard work and commitment earlier.

Nevertheless, counteroffers are now common practice on the Polish labour market. Recruiters and internal HR departments looking for top talent should therefore adapt their recruitment strategies to the new circumstances. It is nearly impossible to predict the final result of recruitment process when a candidate receives a counteroffer. The role of an employment agency and internal recruiters is to inform [who?] about possible consequences and help applicants to make an informed and reasonable decision.

Our experience shows that accepting the counteroffer is rarely the best solution. A successful recruitment process, bearing in mind the engagement and preparation needed to take part in job interviews, and the decision to hand in notice and leave the current employer, is time-consuming, stressful and emotionally draining. Therefore, it can be assumed that the whole undertaking had to have a considerable justification. Accepting the counteroffer may seem like taking a step backwards.

According to the Hays Poland salary guide, there is a visible tendency that once the decision about leaving current company is made, it is finalised sooner or later. Should the counteroffer be accepted by candidates? This is a difficult question without one good answer. Considering different professional opportunities, it is worth following the most important aspect – overall satisfaction with the job.

More in Human Resources:

Social climate – what it is and how does it impact employees’ behaviour?

By Dorota Grudzień Molenda, managing partner, Arthur Hunt Consulting Polska


Nowadays most organisations have started focusing on workplace surrounding and the welfare of the employees.

Realising the Future of Work

By Jan Karasek, partner, and Magda Stawska, senior manager, both from the Advisory Department at KPMG in Poland


Organisations worldwide are entering an era of monumental change: digital disruption, globalisation, redefined business models, changing demographics, growing talents in multigenerational teams, regulatory compliance, big data, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and machine learning (ML).

From distraction to concentration

By Beata Osiecka, managing director, Kinnarps Poland


Do you find your flow at work?

City Week London aims to remain in the forefront of financial markets through innovation and connectivity

By Marzena Richter, partner, Staniszewski & Richter, board member, BPCC


Having attended City Week last month at the Guildhall in London, I was struck by the absence of Brexit in some of the presentations made by a mixture of City CEOs and EU ministers.