Counter Offers – Attraction & Retention meets, at whose expense? 6

I have read the many websites picked up on a google search on the topic of Counter Offers and have my own views, but what are your thoughts on this topic.

I have just had a Senior Executive go through a significant & efficient Recruitment process with one of my clients. During my initial discussions, he gave no indication that he would consider a counter offer. He was flown to Cape Town by my client. The interview went well from both sides and he was very positive about the People, the Job & the Company.

A week or so later, he was made an exceptionally attractive offer and indicated that he was accepting the offer, which I then communicated to the HR Director, my client.

After discussing the matter with his CEO, his enthusiasm waned slightly and he was unable to sign the letter of appointment. He failed to respond to us at the times he said he would and after a few days, I received an email saying that he cannot accept the offer because his present company may have something for him !!!

My client has expended time, effort & money and has been told one thing and now this Senior Exec goes back on his word (or is his word sufficient to form a legal & binding contract).

Does this show a lack of integrity on the part of this Executive, is it happening as often as I am led to believe, is it acceptable and what are your experiences & views on this issue, has anyone successfully taken legal action against someone like this ?????


Trevor Gildenhuys
Talent Network
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6 thoughts on “Counter Offers – Attraction & Retention meets, at whose expense?

  • Janelle Gravett

    HI. This is not an uncommon practise, however, I personnally do not believe in counter offers. If you were not happy in the first place and sought alternative employment, you are not going to be any happier staying with the company. Also if he company does not recognise your worth initially, why throw moeny at you just to keep you when you indicate you are going? However, what I wanted to note was that I have come across a number of Recuitment Companies latetly, who request tht the candidate sign a document that they will not accept a counter offer from thier current employer. This is one way of protecting yourself as the Recruiter against this practise.

  • Nkosinathi Mkhize

    This makes an interesting case. I will comment around whether or not there is a case in law in this regard.The question here is whether or not there was / is a valid contract between the candidate and the client of yours. It is interesting to note that a job applicant is an employee. What becomes a relationship between an ’employee’ and an employer. Let us start in this way: if the individual has applied for a position, that person becomes an applicant. In terms of the EEAct, an employee includes a job applicant. There is one fundamental connection between an employee and an employer – contract of employment (written or verbal). Whta happens if one party does not fullfill the conditions set in the contract? Enforce or sue. If we were to follow this logic perhaps there might be a case to answer to.The law should not be applied in a one sided way. The spirit, purpose and intention should be observed by all the parties.

    Another scenario: What would have happenend if your client made a counter offer to the counter offer made by the ‘current’ employer?

  • Mary Fox

    Hi Trevor,

    We all know counters offers don’t really work – candidates are back within the market after a few months – most of the time they lose face with their management and the trust is broken. Not sure what the term really is or if they practice it but I heard that certain companies actually “blacklist” candidates who do then accept counter offers after going through the lengthy interview and selection process. The candidate basically will never be given the chance to be interviewed at the company again – your CV will not even be looked at. This to me show the seriousness in which companies are trying to protect themselves not only against people accepting counter offers but also people wasting their time.

  • John Ward

    Just an opinion, but appears that the recruiter did not do the job to its fullest. Relevance + commitment = contributive value. It appears that commitment was not tested (there are ways and means of doing this). When recruiting, it should be established (as far as possible, testing commitment) that the only thing the candidate wants, is to work for the client. Was the question asked “What would your current employer have to offer you to keep you?”

  • Wynand Swart

    Hi Trevor

    I personally thinK that most of these individuals go out of their way to increase their current remuneration in this manner. This will result in that they can do this without going through changes that some people can’t deal with effectively. This is a real shame as some real talent will go missing and could be seen in the same light. Employers should have a zero counter offer policy.

    Such a person should stand accountable for his/her actions. I am sure legal action can be taken. Would be interesting to see if someone has succeeded in the past.

    Good Luck!


  • Tim Madgwick

    Hi Trevor,

    As an employer we also get frustrated with people who are made counter offers once you have done the full interview and incurred expense. We tend to say to the candidate that we do not negotiate and that the offer of employment is then withdrawn. We do not want staff who will then leave when offerred a little more money, we need stability and productivity. Your client is better off not employing a person with no values & integrity, he probably would not have stayed.

    I doubt that you can tak any legal action unless you have a clause in your contract with the candidate.

    Good luck