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If your boss offers you a raise when you try to quit, should you accept?

by THEA kelley | September 7, 2022

You’ve handed in your resignation, but now your boss is offering more money. What should you do if your boss offers you a raise when you try to quit? Or maybe they’re dangling better hours, a change in your job description, flexibility or other perks. What to do?

Be very skeptical.

Once an employee gives notice, accepting a counteroffer to stay tends to turn out badly. This is well known among career professionals like myself, as well as among HR leaders and senior executives. In a Harvard Business Review survey, nearly 40% of such leaders stated that accepting a counteroffer rather than quit will usually backfire.

What could go wrong?

  • Having proven yourself to be a flight risk, management may pass you over for the best projects, and you may have less clout politically. You could become a “lame duck.”
  • Your co-workers may resent your willingness to “abandon” them, and may no longer trust and support you.
  • Management may even decide to keep you on board only until they can find a replacement, at which time you would be let go.

In most cases, you’re better off graciously turning down the offer and moving on.

That said, every situation is different, and undoubtedly there are exceptions. If you do decide to take a counteroffer and stay, do whatever you can to demonstrate your wholehearted re-commitment to the job–but also keep your resume updated and some “mad money” in the bank.

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