A recent survey has suggested that counter-offers to retain IT staff are “too little, too late”. Across the UK as a whole, some 8% of those planning to move jobs have been counter-offered, but in IT the figure rises to 21%. Apparently, most IT staff said that they would need a counter-offer of an 18% rise in salary for them to stay with their current employer and over two-thirds said that they felt that the prevalence of counter-offers was a belated recognition that they were not being paid enough in the first place!
Successful counter-offers create pain for (almost) everyone. The candidate may be retained, but his or her loyalty is now more likely to be questioned, and in fact the majority go on to leave within one year; the recruiter is less trusted because they haven’t delivered what they said they would; and the recruiting company is back to square one. The candidate at least has some more money and possibly a promotion or promise of one, but those involved in making the recruitment happen are left frustrated and annoyed (and out of pocket).
However, I think there is a more fundamental issue here. Specifically, does the counter-offer culture mean that not enough preparation has been done by recruiters and candidates alike to ensure that the job proffered is one that the candidate really wants?
Whilst companies will always strive to keep their best people, recruiters should strive to minimise counter-offers by ensuring that the matching process and the associated ‘marketing’ of the new role are spot on. Yes it’s more work, but ultimately it leads to more satisfied candidates and clients.
The fundamental factor that makes people accept a counter offer is money and therefore recruiters have to understand the real reason a candidate is leaving their current role. You often have to dig deep and have a good relationship with them to get this and if it turns out that money is the main driver then they are always open to the counter offer. Ironically, there is a bit of a taboo around discussing money. People are embarrassed about admitting they want more, advised not to discuss this at interview, wary about over pricing their worth or simply don’t want to ask their boss for a salary review.
With all that in mind, I am happy to reveal our own figures, based on our first year in business in the perm market. We saw 7% of all placements we made fail due to either a counter-offer from the existing employer or an external counter-offer from another firm. This obviously compares very favourably with the 21% mentioned in the other survey above, but that particular research (or at least the reporting of it) does not say how many of those 21% actually accepted the counter-offer. Honest reporting of these figures from across Scotland would be very useful indeed for clients and candidates alike.
Andrew Finlayson, Associate Director, Be-IT Resourcing