Focus on the Netherlands: The power of counteroffers

Many are predicting that the Netherlands will not experience a recession on the same scale as the UK.

But this is undetermined – the next three months will be full of uncertainty and retaining valuable employees will be crucial for companies to succeed. In this battle for talent, we are seeing an increasing realisation within many employers that they must effectively counteroffer those staff who want to leave.

Our recent salary guide found that 81 per cent of those surveyed would be willing to leave their roles for the right offer, which speaks volumes to the fluidity of the market. So why are so many looking to take the leap?

Part of this can be attributed to the post-pandemic consequence of employees getting itchy feet. Uncertainty, particularly economic uncertainty, is often accompanied by an unwillingness among the workforce to take risks and move jobs. But as this settles out and markets return to normal, employees are more willing to take a leap of faith.

One of the chief drivers behind employee resignations is flexibility. For some, it’s because their company is retaining too much flexibility and their position has remained very remote. The novelty of two years of home working has worn off and many are once again seeking face-to-face interaction with team members, and the growth that comes with it.

On the other hand, some employees are being asked to attend the office too frequently and desire greater freedom. It’s a hard balance that can only be found by regularly speaking to staff and it will fall to hiring managers to find a happy medium, which may come in the form of hybrid working policies.

The other key reason that employees are jumping ship is salary. Salary has dipped massively as a result of COVID and, with the price of living shooting up across the world, companies must acknowledge this and work to match those who are offering more money, if they hope to remain competitive.

The salary guide demonstrated this shift in employee expectations, with respondents in the Netherlands seeking an average salary increase of 22 per cent but only achieving 12 per cent. This is a big improvement on the 8 per cent seen before COVID, so companies are clearly reacting. But employees pushing for more will force companies to follow suit.

Considering the consequences of a counteroffer

In this period of uncertainty, not everyone will feel ready to leave behind the familiarity of their current role; they may be willing to entertain the prospect of a counteroffer. But it’s crucial that candidates are aware of the consequences should they do so. Before deciding whether to take a counteroffer, it is worth considering a few questions: what will I be signing up for if I stay, why did I want to leave in the first place, and why has a counteroffer been offered?

A counteroffer will usually translate to more money but also increased responsibility. You’re likely to be expected to demonstrate that you are worth this new pay packet and may also face friction with your colleagues. Ensure to factor these potential consequences into your deliberation process.

We know that one in three people that receive a counteroffer end up leaving within the next six months, inferring that the reasons why an employee initially considered leaving have not in fact changed. Consider whether your main motivation for leaving is salary or if it goes deeper than this – if it’s in part due to a bad ‘company culture’, for example, this is unlikely to change in the near future.

Consider why that offer was not given in the first place. Is it because the company is comfortable with its personnel and the only reason why that counteroffer is being shown is that they’re about to lose talent? In this case its worth questioning whether they will value their staff going forwards.

Employers should also be conscious that candidates are currently in a strong position in the market and may be tempted to ride the counteroffer bandwagon just in order to obtain a higher salary.There isn’t a good or bad guy in these scenarios. Ultimately, it’s up to both parties to operate with honesty to ensure that everyone is moving forward productively, rather than counteroffering and then the employee leaving anyway, which doesn’t benefit anyone. Employers need to understand when to let go and candidates must also recognise when it’s time to leave so that companies don’t stagnate.

Counteroffers will hit a ceiling 

Continuous salary increases are not sustainable and there will come a point where companies won’t be able to go any higher. We are already seeing salary expectations outgrowing the market in some roles.

For instance, data engineers are currently in short supply, and we are witnessing candidates on €60K realising that they can earn €80K elsewhere. The drawback to this is that if candidates want to move again in the future, but salaries dip, they may have to take a backward step in their pay in order to progress.

Candidates need to look holistically at their job search, considering the broader opportunity, rather than merely pay. They should ensure that yes, they are being paid what they deserve, but that they aren’t compromising on their goals or progression to achieve that higher salary.

For further insights into the state of play of the Netherlands market, read the full EU 2022 salary guide here.

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