Counter offer or retain?

Counter offer or retain?

In the CIPD’s latest Labour Market Outlook report, six pages were devoted to the subject of counter offers, but the topic seemed to focus on increased salary.

Making a counter offer when the employee is resigning is too late – it rarely works out for long. While a higher salary often takes centre stage in counter offer discussions, it’s essential to recognize that there are a multitude of other valuable components that could have been more effectively in place to retain top talent.

Here’s 7 to consider:

1. Professional Development Opportunities

For anyone who cares about their career, continuous learning and growth are key to development. Staff will be more inclined to stay with professional development opportunities (eg access to workshops, seminars, conferences, online courses, and mentorship programs) that not only enhance the employee’s skill set but also contribute to their long-term career trajectory.

2. Advancement Opportunities

This goes hand in hand with the point above. Employees are more likely to remain committed to an organization that demonstrates a clear path for growth and advancement. Employers can outline potential career opportunities (promotions, pathways to leadership positions or even transfer to another department/location). This not only incentivises employees to excel in their current roles but also shows that the organisation is invested in their long-term success. Caution: I spoke to a candidate recently who bemoaned the fact that they had seen other less technically competent people promoted into the role they wanted, in other words they were “too good at their job”.

3. Flexible Work Arrangements

Since COVID, flexible working (hybrid, fully remote etc) has gained some traction, although it’s interesting that recently, more employers are looking to bring people back full time in the office. Flexible working can however, provide employees with a healthier work-life balance and can greatly enhance job satisfaction. By demonstrating a level of trust in their employees’ ability to deliver without close contact, employers can get increased loyalty (and greater productivity) in return.

4. Health and Wellness Benefits

Employee well-being, both physical and mental, is a top priority for forward-thinking organisations. In addition to traditional healthcare offerings, there are other benefits such as gym memberships, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), on-site wellness activities, and even subscription services focused on holistic well-being. These perks not only demonstrate a company’s commitment to employee health but also foster a positive and motivated workforce.

5. Additional Paid Time Off

Beyond the standard vacation and sick leave policies, offering extra PTO can be a valuable bargaining chip. This could include additional annual leave, personal days (some of our clients offer the employee’s birthday as an extra day’s leave), reward for exceeding KPIs or even the option for a sabbatical after a certain tenure. Increased time off not only promotes work-life balance but also aids in preventing burnout and enhancing overall employee morale.

6. Share Options or Equity

For start-ups and established companies alike, offering share options or equity can be a compelling component of a counter offer. This gives employees a direct stake in the company’s success and aligns their interests with the company’s growth plans.

7. Recognition and Awards

Acknowledging and rewarding outstanding performance is a potent strategy for retaining top talent. Employers can offer various recognition programs, employee of the month awards, and even monetary bonuses tied to exceptional achievements (see also no 5: Additional Paid Time Off). This can not only boost employee morale but also foster healthy competition and a culture of excellence.


While a competitive salary remains a significant factor in any job offer or counter offer, it’s vital to consider the broader spectrum of benefits and opportunities that employers can bring to the negotiating table. Improving retention reduces your need to recruit, and when you do, you are improving your attraction rates too! By diversifying offerings to include professional development, flexible work arrangements, health and wellness benefits, extra leave days, advancement opportunities, stock options, and recognition offering, employers can create a package that appeals to the wider needs and aspirations of today’s workforce. The key lies in recognising that a well-rounded approach to compensation can lead to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and a stronger bond between employees and their organisations.

sue eustace Author: Sue Eustace | Profile | Connect on LinkedIn


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