Hang on to your hire! How to prevent your newly appointed employee being swayed by a counter-offer


Firstly, I truly wish there was a sure-fire way of preventing the words that hiring managers dread to hear when they think their recruitment was complete: “I’m really sorry but I’m not going to accept your role, my company has offered me something I can’t refuse.”

If I had found a way of preventing all counter-offers being taken, I would be selling it like miracle hair gro. Going out to the job market again on a role we’ve just recruited is painful. Let’s be honest, in the increasingly fast-paced world of work, none of us enjoy repeating a task we thought we had put to bed. Especially one that took a lot of effort and personal commitment; necessitated early morning or evening interviews; took extra negotiation to proceed; or additional salary to get the deal over the line.

When it comes to navigating a counter-offer the first thing to accept is that there is nothing you can do to prevent it. However, you can make sure you have done everything possible to limit the chances of it being accepted. Here’s some tips to help maximise your success:

1) Select your successful candidate wisely

  • How committed do they seem to your opportunity? Are they chasing for feedback or are you doing all the chasing?
  • What’s their motivation for the move? A wise recruiter once said to me there had to be three key reasons they’re penning their resignation letter for you to be confident they will actually leave.
  • What do they stand to gain from joining your business and have you communicated this to them? This isn’t just about money in their back pocket; this is the opportunity to develop, progress and truly belong in your organisation.
  • What’s their track history? Why have they moved before and were the reasons valid, and considered or flight ones when they were put under pressure to deliver?

2) Deliver the full offer to ensure there are no surprises

  • A job offer isn’t just about the salary or title – your new employee needs to know the full benefits on offer. Hiding less attractive benefits such as only 20 days annual leave or inflexible working hours to be sent in writing is just prolonging a rejection in some cases.
  • On that note, word your offer letter carefully to ensure it’s as engaging as possible and reflects that you are excited they are joining the business.

3) Find reasons to keep in touch in their notice period

  • There is a balance with this so I suggest aiming for a weekly link-in as daily contact can look a little desperate.
  • Meet them informally for a coffee or to meet the team and include them in up and coming social events your company may intend to hold.
  • Make sure they are informed about their first working week and any changes to location for induction days they might need to know.
  • Ask about their preferences for office equipment etc or what they think they need from their induction to ensure success.

Take every opportunity to build a positive and personable relationship to ensure they feel welcomed. Counter-offers don’t just happen on the day someone hands in their notice, they can sometimes arrive a week or two before someone is due to start. It’s easier for people to stick with something they know rather than take a chance on something new, especially if it was weeks since they last spoke to their new boss.

4) Don’t go back on initial promises made at interview – consciously or subconsciously. For instance, if you
talked about trusting employees during the interview then all your actions should demonstrate that trust.

Most importantly though, remember if one of your new recruits does accept a counter-offer to stay with their current employer, or ghosts you, then they really are not right for your business. A new working relationship should have a honeymoon period where both parties are looking to see the best in each other. If there is doubt, regret or uncertainty then you are fighting against it to make a success of the hire. So as painful as it is to re-open the vacancy, an even better candidate may be just around the corner waiting to apply!

By Gemma Stirrup, Director, Ben Johnson Recruitment