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The counter-offer: to accept or reject?

Posted on from Page Group

The counter-offer as a retention tool is rising in a range of organisations and geographies, and the HR market in the Middle East is no different.

Bilingual candidates in demand

At Michael Page Human Resources, we’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of counter-offer situations encountered by our HR candidates when they’re exploring the market for a new role.

Bilingual candidates are particularly sought-after, so those HR professionals with English and Arabic language skills are often top of the agenda in terms of retention. Organisations understand that these skills are difficult to replace, so employers extend counter-offers as a way to encourage their talent to stay.

The impact of nationalisation

Due to the various nationalisation programmes taking place across the Gulf region (Emiratisation, Saudisation, Qatarisation), the demand for local HR candidates has increased significantly. There is pressure from the government for all businesses to hire local talent, but the expectation is firmly on government and semi-government bodies rather than the private sector to make this happen.

Compensation and benefits candidates with a proven Middle Eastern track record are also highly sought-after. Because of a skills shortage in this area, professionals with this experience are frequently counter-offered as a retention method.

What to do in a counter-offer situation

If you’re an HR candidate exploring the market in the Middle East with in-demand skills and a good track record, you may have received a counter-offer to stay with your current organisation.

Which decision do you make? Do you accept in the hope that you’ll be happy remaining where you are, or do you thank your current employer, reject the offer, and move to a new organisation to start afresh?

Each counter-offer situation is unique, but keep the following four points in mind if you’ve been presented with the choice to stay or go and are unsure which course of action to take.

  1. Are you looking for a payrise?
    If you were looking for a new job because you wanted more money, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider the counter-offer carefully. But think about why you’re only now being offered a pay-rise. If your employer is offering you what you’re really worth, shouldn’t you have received it before you handed in your resignation?

    We see many candidates back on the job market a few months after accepting a counter-offer because they find that other issues they had with their company go unresolved, and the increase in salary isn’t enough for them to stay.

    After the global financial crisis (GFC), many of our HR candidates are no longer moving primarily for financial reasons. The incentive to join a new organisation is for career progression, work/life balance, or better cultural fit. Because of this, successful financial counter-offers seem to be diminishing.
  2. Weigh up both organisations
    Is the organisation somewhere that you actually want to work? Sometimes, an eagerness to escape a current workplace overshadows the importance of finding a job that you actually want. Evaluate the existing and new opportunities based on what will satisfy your career ambitions, whether it’s skills development, career diversification or earnings potential. 
  3. The impact of trust
    When your employer knows that you’ve been looking for a new job and are unhappy in your current position, they might find it hard to trust your commitment to the company in the future. You could miss out on promotion opportunities if management thinks you’re still likely to leave.
  4. Leave on good terms
    If you decline the counter-offer and leave, don’t use this as the time to tell your employer what you really think of them. You can’t be sure your professional contact with them has ended, and this could harm your reputation.

    Ultimately, you must make the decision that is right for your career in the long-term. Tell your employer you need a little time to think so you can weigh the pros and cons of staying or leaving. Asking family, friends and mentors for their advice will inform your decision too.

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