Counter offers are on the rise as employers fight to keep from losing talented employees.

In today’s skill-short market, it is understandable that employers may attempt to reverse an employee’s decision to leave if they have the right skills, cultural fit and are highly valued by the company.

Recruitment company Hays has observed a trend of top candidates — particularly those in skill-short areas — receiving multiple offers and counter offers.

According to the 2011 Hays Salary Guide, 71 per cent of the companies surveyed said it was either their policy to counter-offer resigning staff or to make counter offers occasionally.

The remaining 29 per cent said they did not counter-offer at all. So there is evidence to suggest that over two-thirds of companies are increasingly employing this tactic as a strategy for long-term staff retention.

But many candidates are changing roles to achieve the right level of responsibility and career prospects, rather than a salary increase.

That is why a successful counter offer involves more than just money, and employers need to make sure they address the underlying issue of why their employee decided to look for a new job in the first place.

Why did you want to leave?

If you find yourself being counter-offered, reflect on why you looked for a new role initially and gain commitment from your employer to tackle these issues before accepting the counter offer.

For example, if your current role lacks long-term career growth potential or you are feeling unchallenged and bored, you need to get a commitment that your employer will develop a long-term career path for you and will revise your duties and responsibilities.

Try to air any concerns with your manager before it affects your work fulfilment or morale. 

If you can see scope to overcome these issues and your motivation for leaving is beyond just a salary increase, accepting a counter offer could actually end up being a great opportunity for your career.

But if no commitment is made to address the issues that led you to enter the job market initially, then, in the interests of your career advancement, it might be best to thank your boss for the offer and move on.

What would make you stay?

There are some key questions you may want to ask yourself when considering a counter offer to help you to decide whether you should stay or go.

Firstly, look at the key factors that led you to look at roles with other organisations in the first place.

In general, most candidates look for new roles when they no longer feel challenged in their current role, are no longer developing their skill set, have been overlooked for a promotion, or would like to simply earn more.

In such cases, you need to ask yourself if your job satisfaction or career development needs will be met if you accept the offer.

Other questions candidates should ask themselves are:

* Will I still feel valued by my current employer even though the counter offer appears to only be made as a result of my potentially leaving the company? 

* Will I be able to overcome the issues that initially led me to resign if I accept the counter offer?

* Have I drawn up a “pros and cons” list for both employers?

* Can other incentives such as training or memberships be added to the counter offer to make it more attractive?

* Which organisation will provide me with better long-term career growth potential and opportunities?

Most importantly, take your time when deciding to accept a counter offer or not.

It will have a big impact on your career, so ensure you make the right decision for yourself — whether it is remaining with your current employer or moving to a new one.