Navigating the Minefield of Counter Offers in Business


In Vietnam just like most places, members of staff often look to further their careers elsewhere only to be hit by seemingly better counter offers from their bosses. A promise of higher salary in the future, or better working conditions often seems inviting. However these matters are never black and white and care needs to be taken before having your head turned.

Counter offers are described in the dictionary as offers made in response to another. In business especially in Asia it is often the case that if you hand in your notice, current employers will come back with counter offers. 

This is of course all above board and perfectly respectable. It is though the candidate’s response that can fall foul of good business practice here. Always keep honest about what is happening. Never indulge in the classic Asian face saving exercise of telling a story to save face for yourself and your boss. It almost always goes wrong.

Always Remember the Bigger Picture When Considering Counter Offers

So you have been in your position with your current employer for a year or two and you’re getting itchy feet. It’s a big wide world out there and offers are arriving at your door. It is natural for anyone to think about changing places, a fresh new start, new challenges and meeting new people. You see a position that offers greater challenges for you, better conditions or an improved salary, possibly all three.

The integrity of your current employer should never be taken for granted. It should be repaid at all times by the same levels of honesty and integrity from yourself. Everyone has the right to better themselves and as long as your maintain your integrity it will stand you in good stead in the future. 

When considering any counter offers it is important to maintain a friendly dialogue with your employer. Keep them informed at all times but do not give them too much information. Do not volunteer too much about the other company, the position you have been offered and most important of all the salary.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

Any good employer should and normally does appreciate that people will sometimes need to leave their employ in order to grow as a person and improve their careers. It is natural. It is also natural that they will try their best to keep hold of good workers. So when counter offers come your way it should be a positive sign that you have been doing things right. You should, however, not feel coerced into accepting it. If it comes with all the things for which you have been searching, then it is worth serious consideration; better the devil you know. Sometimes though, the move away will be the obvious choice. This is where the way you handle things becomes important.

The Negatives of Accepting Counter Offers

1. Think carefully about the reasons why you decided to look for a new position. These reasons may well still be in place after you accept the counter offer. Yes the money is a factor, but maybe you wanted fresh faces around you, newer technology not available at your current place of employment, the need to move to a company where you feel more valued and have a greater chance of promotion in the future. None of these factors will change if you stay where you are.

2. Why is your boss offering you a rise now? It’s flattering isn’t it? However, surely if you were worth it, it should have already been offered. It will cost your current company money to recruit and train a replacement for you. They are merely redirecting money that they would have to spend. Think of it this way and you will not feel quite so flattered. 

3. According to New York based recruiters G&S, national surveys conducted among employees show that of those employers who accepted counteroffers, 60%-75% percent voluntarily left their employer within six months. The main reason given was of promises not kept. Their statistics show that 90% of counter offers end unsatisfactorily, with employers leaving within 1 year.  (Source)

How to Decline Counter Offers Without Burning Bridges

1. Take your time. Neither accept nor decline straight away. Thank your employer for their offer but ask for a few days to consider it. This avoids looking too eager to either stay or leave. Even if you are determined to leave, a few days will allow your company a bit of face saving. It also makes you look more measured in the way you deal with new challenges. 

2. When you decide to turn down any counter offers, tell your manager how much you have valued their efforts to retain you and ask them for their blessings to any move. Tell them that it has been a very difficult decision made harder by the opportunities afforded you by them. 

3. Polite language is imperative. If you have enjoyed a good relationship with your manager, then say that you have always appreciate the honesty in your relationship, and tell them that you know they will understand how difficult this has been for you. 

4. Always deal directly with your manager. There is a tendency for many people to hide behind the HR department. However, cutting your manager out of the conversation is a serious loss of face for them. It also makes it look like the manager is the reason for you leaving, even when it isn’t. 

5. Make sure you handle the hand over to your replacement with professionalism. Work as hard in your last month as you did in your first month. This will leave an excellent evaluation of your integrity and is sure to mean that the relationship ends with good feelings from both side.

6. Keep calm. No matter how difficult the negotiations become,, never lose your temper. Remember you have the right to take your skills anywhere that you wish. You have done nothing wrong in trying to improve your own situation.


Counter offers rarely end with a satisfactory feeling. You obviously were ready when deciding to leave. Pursue your feelings and follow your gut. Keep calm and be strong, but always respectful. 

Are you Ready for a New Challenge?

If you are ready to look for new challenges and opportunities, contact us at RGF Executive Search Vietnam. You will find countless positions with high quality businesses.We will guide you to find the perfect position from which your career can grow. Visit our website: