Counter-offers are flying in today’s abundant job market. With so many positions unfilled – 423,500, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics – the war for talent is firing up.
Traditionally counter-offers have focused on increased salaries and financial incentives such as bonuses. But since the pandemic, workers are increasingly looking for offers to satisfy work-life balance priorities.
“It’s not all about money,” said Lezly D’Limi from recruitment firm talentko.
“Money helps, but a lot of people at the moment will want work from home options and in some circumstances some people may want to work a four-day week rather than getting a pay rise.
“Employers have to think of those types of offers as well. Not everyone can afford to put $10,000 or $20,000 on people’s salaries, but they can manage people working less and getting paid the same because a lot of people are looking at lifestyle.”
Job vacancies rose by 6.9 per cent between November last year and February this year. It’s given job-seekers a distinct advantage in the job market and has put employers on the back foot.
Organisations are desperately trying to guard against talent losses and avoid the costly process of hiring and training new staff, said Shane Rodgers, chief operating officer of the Australian Industry Group.
“At the moment there is a clear skills and labour shortage and people are more keen than ever to keep good people,” he said.
“There are practical considerations – a lot of skills are hard to find in the economy at the moment, but it’s also costly to train people and it probably takes companies three months to bring people up to speed in a new organisation.”
When tailored to an employee’s specific needs and wants, counter-offers can be effective ways to retain workers. But they are less likely to work when an employee has made a considered decision to leave, Rodgers warns.
“Sometimes people have applied for a job and got a job, and that is usually part of a conscious career plan,” he said.
“Sometimes people have been approached out of the blue and offered a job. If it’s part of a career plan where people have already applied for a job, committed to a job and maybe even signed a contract, counter-offers are probably less likely to be successful.
“They are more likely to be successful in cases where people have been approached out of the blue with a job offer and have to think quickly about whether it fits with their career plan, is it the right fit, is it the right culture.”
To anyone when weighing up the pros and cons of competing job offers, D’Limi and Rodgers have the following advice:
- Don’t rush your decision. Take the time to understand the conditions being offered and seek clarification on anything that doesn’t seem clear.
- Money may motivate you, but will you be happy working there? Consider the time you need to spend with family or pursue passions. Work-life balance is important and organisations understand this.
- Cultural fit. Aligning your values with a new employer is crucial. Working for an organisation you don’t believe in spells unhappiness for both parties.
- Be clear about your expectations and voice these to prospective employers. If their offers don’t match your preferred working conditions, be direct and ask them what can be done.
- Don’t be persuaded by flattery. Being headhunted is an ego boost, but it may mean you change jobs for the wrong reasons. Thoroughly check the conditions of the job offer against those in the position you already occupy.