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Jo Macdonald | 1 November 2021

The Great Counter Offer

"Your amazing candidate gets pulled back into the fold by what is usually some sort of large gold plated dangly carrot"

“The Great Resignation” I’m sure you’ve heard the term, this wave that’s hitting, or is about to hit our shores. Media tells us Covid has given us all time to pause, reflect, re-evaluate and question, are we truly happy? And if not, it’s out with the old and in with the new, a role that truly fits our lifestyle and helps us reach our personal and professional goals. It’s amazing what some thinking space can do!

How has the great resignation translated into the world of recruitment? Well, personally, having worked through both lockdowns, I haven’t experienced this phenomenon yet. I haven’t experienced an abundance of candidates knocking at my door, rather the opposite. Yep, there’s been a shift for sure, recruiting is certainly different, complex and pretty damn challenging. It makes me ponder and empathise with just how much this pandemic has affected people and the decisions they’re making.

If you’re recruiting right now, one thing that I am sure many of you are facing is “The Great Counter Offer”. A counter offer is when your preferred candidate is wooed back by their current employer once they hand in their resignation. Suddenly your amazing candidate gets pulled back into the fold by what is usually some sort of large gold plated dangly carrot. Before Covid days, this was a pretty rare occurrence, it might happen to you once or if you’re really unlucky twice a year. We are now seeing this happen weekly.

So why does this happen?

For some, money seems to talk right now, and the stability of what people know seems to feel as good as that warm snuggly jumper that you chuck on in the weekends. It seems that old saying “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” becomes acutely apparent to the employer and they become aware of just what that employee is worth and what their potential is, so a promotion is also often offered too.

So how can we as recruiters and hiring managers try to mitigate this?

Here are a few things that can certainly assist along the way.

At Kin we stay closely connected to candidates throughout the recruitment journey. We have full and frank, transparent and honest conversations, particularly if we feel a candidate might be starting to drift. We gently remind them of what they were looking for in a new role and why they were motivated to leave their current employer in the first place. We may suggest to the hiring manager, that they get back together with that candidate for a casual chat; let the candidate connect at a truly human level and ask any questions that might be lingering in their mind and help dispel any assumptions they have made along the way.

Anecdotally we know that candidates who are wooed back by their current employer usually only stay about another six months before realising that not much has changed and look to leave again. The foundational reasons for looking in the first place are rarely addressed through a pay rise and a fancy new job title.

If you’re in a recruitment process with a candidate that you are about to propose to, don’t muck around. Present them with your best offer and excite them with your plans for their development. Why risk losing a candidate by not offering them what they’re worth when you want them to say I do?

I also talk with my clients about their recruitment process. It’s vital to be thorough and robust in a process, but we also need to consider how we give the candidate a true sense of the organisation and the people within it. If every interview is competency or assessment based, your candidate may not have the opportunity to learn about what your organisation does to give back, or how you have fun, or how you look after your people. Why not try a more engaging approach, take them for a cuppa (lock down permitting) outside of your workplace so it sets a more relaxed scene that allows for more general conversation. Ask them questions about what matters most in their world.

The recruitment landscape is constantly evolving and we all need to evolve with it. What are you doing to attract incredible employees to your business?