2012: Over the counter-offer?

by Robin Kinley on 16.04.2012 06:19

When first reading over the ICAEW’s ‘2012 Salary Survey Report’ there are a few headline figures that are hard to ignore.  An 11.77% increase in average basic salary, coupled with a rise of nearly 22% in the comparative average bonus payments since November 2010 means it is an interesting read for everyone in the industry.

The question that the statistics can’t answer is, why?

It would be naïve to think that the shift in the total average remuneration since November 2010 is a result of one particular influence, but more a combination a numerous different factors, all coming together for possibly the first time since the onset of the recession.  This blog is going to explore one such factor, the counter-offer.

For many, 2011 was the ‘year of the counter-offer’.   

The re-occurrence of the counter-offer as a major player in 2011 was itself a result of numerous factors at play (nothing is ever simple!).  A modest, yet significant, increase in market-stability has seen recruitment work its way on to the agenda of most businesses and as a result, skilled ICAEW Accountants have seen their stock rise over the last 12-15 months.  This, in conjunction with a recognised skills shortage in a number of business sectors, has resulted in a two or even three way ‘wage-war’.   It is not uncommon that, as the current or prospective employer, you will be fighting it out financially against a number of other businesses in trying to secure the services of a particularly skilled ACA (be it industry specific skills or a proven history of helping companies save cost or maximise revenue). 

It is widely recognised that in business, growth is easiest achieved by ensuring your best ‘talent’ remain motivated and engaged, whilst simultaneously attracting the best talent from other businesses. You can be sure that your any forward-thinking competitors are looking to attract staff from your business and this presents a situation where there can only ever be one winner. In a significant number of cases, he who pays more laughs last.

It is no doubt an excellent short-term win for the job seeker, potentially seeing double-digit percentage increase in their earnings, but is the counter-offer a sustainable practice in UK business?

Working in the world of recruitment, we at Stott and May are under no illusions that the financial packages being offered will always form a significant part in an individual deciding between two offers.  It is worth noting, however, that as an employer, there are a number of actions you can undertake to minimise attrition in your workforce, what have you done to influence this?

If one of your staff were to hand in their notice, would you be offended, question their loyalty or work your hardest to keep them on board?

As a candidate who has experienced a counter offer situation –here is some food for thought:  

If you have ever accepted a counter-offer, did you receive everything that was promised to you? How long did you stay with that company thereafter?

What non-financial incentives could an employer offer that may tempt you to stay ?

As we progress through the early stages of 2012 it is impossible to predict exactly what implications the practice of the counter-offer will have come the end of the year. However, it does give rise to an interesting question for business leaders.

What will add more value for UK business, investing in talent retention or talent attraction?