Accountants: Should You Accept That Counter Offer?

In the accounting industry, which is facing a talent shortage, it’s becoming increasingly common for companies to present employees with counter offers when they resign. But if you’re one of those employees, should you accept one?

It can be tempting to take what seems like the best offer on the table, especially when it comes from the company where you are already employed. Whether you’re seeking higher compensation, better benefits, or a more flexible work-life balance, it might be tempting to stay with ‘what you know’ if you can attain those goals with your current employer. However, doing so can create numerous issues down the road for future job prospects and your accounting career as a whole.

“Choosing to re-enter the job market, interview, and secure a new offer isn’t an easy process, so make sure you know why you decided to do it before returning to your original employer,” says Senior Managing Director of Accounting/Finance at The Execu|Search Group, Elisa Dammacco, CPA. “This is especially true if you had already approached your company with your goals and were refused, only to be given what you asked for in a counter offer. If this is the case, the employer’s priorities might not be in the right place.”

While a counter offer may address some of your professional concerns now, in most cases, there may be unexpected consequences for this decision. Before accepting one, consider the following effects it can have on your accounting career.

It may not really be the best offer. Say, for example, you’re looking for better compensation. If you’re offered an additional bonus or higher salary, there’s no guarantee it won’t affect other areas of your pay. The bonus may just be a one-time offer, or if your yearly salary increases, you may lose bonuses altogether.

It can close future doors. Even in the best-case scenario in which you attain all your goals, you still run another great risk: tarnishing your reputation in your field. For example, it’s easy for the employer who took the time to make you an offer to feel insulted and pass on the word when you return to your old company. When you find yourself back in the job market (which many do), the employer (or hiring manager) you turned down a position with will be less likely to make you another offer.

It can harm your reputation at work. Likewise, you also risk negatively affecting your relationships with your colleagues. For example, in an Execu|Search survey about counter offers, 64% of job seekers who left within a year of accepting a counter offer, felt that doing so changed their work relationships. If team members start to treat you differently, this could decrease your level of productivity, affect your collaborative efforts, and eventually force you to consider leaving…again.

It can put you on the front lines for a layoff. When it comes time for downsizing, companies try to retain their most loyal and dedicated talent. If you’ve already given the impression that you’re willing to move on to something else, your employer may be inclined to choose you first.

It’s a short-term fix. Since more money is typically what is offered when an employer counters, job seekers make the mistake of thinking this will solve all their problems. Don’t be blinded by a salary increase or any other perks you’re offered if it does not address your main reason(s) for wanting to leave. For example, if you were leaving in hopes of growth opportunities, new challenges, or a different company culture, a salary increase would only serve as a short-term fix for a long-term problem.

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