10 Questions Physicians Must Ask When Considering A Counter Offer

Dawn Pascale

You’re coming down the home stretch. You’ve received an excellent offer for a new job opportunity, and it’s time to tender your resignation. Assuredly, you walk into your current administrator’s office to give notice, expecting a moment of panic and perhaps a brief handshake wishing you well. What you didn’t expect was an implausible counter-offer. Now what?! Pundits say the best way to handle a counter-offer is to decline it. We feel it’s not always that black and white. Career decisions are complex, not simple, and it’s impossible to make the right one with imperfect information or unclear guidelines.

Here are the cardinal questions you must ask before you decide to stay or go (again).

1. Before resigning, did you have a discussion with your current employer about being underpaid, overlooked for a promotion or unfavorable working conditions?

If you expressed concerns to your employer before you handed in your notice and these were not dealt with effectivity – it’s likely the problems will persist in the future. On the flip side, did you give your employer a chance to get you re-engaged? An employer can’t fix a thorny situation if you kept frustrations to yourself.

2. How did you feel about the counter-offer?

Did the counter-offer make you feel special or did it confirm that your employer under-valued you in the first place? Did you need to threaten to resign to get their attention or is this a situation where both parties assume responsibility for the disconnect? Most importantly, can you and your current employer put aside resentment and move towards a fruitful working relationship?

3. If you are offered a pay increase to stay, from where is the money for the counter-offer coming?

If a salary increase is offered, ask how the budget for it has been approved. Is it an advance on your next raise, taken from your bonus incentives or were surplus funds available?

4. Will the real pitfalls – such as excessive stress and patient caseload or a toxic work environment – remain unchanged?

There’s a good chance that what made you unhappy in the first place will remain unchanged. Have a transparent and constructive dialogue about the processes they will put in place that speak to your specific concerns. Organizational transformations are not made overnight, but without a plan, they will either fail or be forgotten.

5. Is their motive behind a counter-offer resulting out of sincerity or desperation?

Consider your employer’s motives for the counter-offer carefully before deciding about the next step in your career. Frequently, counter-offers are used as a retention tool. You’ll have to discern if the counter-offer is given because you are leaving at an inconvenient time or they recognize the value you bring to the organization.

6. Will your loyalty always be in question?

In many ways, leaving a job is a little like leaving a relationship. Once you’ve expressed your desire to go, you’ve had a palpable effect on the trust of the relationship which may not be reversed. Now is the time to have a candid conversation about your realistic chances for career development in the organization.

7. Will it buy your employer time to recruit your replacement?

Your job security may have drastically decreased and put you at the top of the chopping block, after all – you’ve already expressed a desire to leave. That may be the case if layoffs are necessary; however, employers are acutely aware of the demand for physicians in this marketplace, and while developing a contingency plan to keep you on until they find a replacement is not uncommon, it is not always the case.

8. Did you compare your list of reasons for leaving in the first place with the reasons why you are staying by accepting the offer?

Counter-offers usually start with the employer incentivizing you to stay by throwing money at the problem. Can money overcome other obstacles that you may be facing such as poor culture, broken relationship with your manager, lack of respect, etc.? It’s easy to be lured back in with higher dollar signs; Understand that this is a just a band-aid to conceal the underlying wounds. Make a list of deal breakers and stick with it or establish a comp plan that will help you tolerate the challenges.

9. What is your Must-Have list?

Don’t believe for e second that a job is something you have to do -It’s something you have to love! If you were generally satisfied with your job but jumped ship for the perfect position, itemize what it would take for you to fall in love with your current job again. Whether it’s decreased on-call duties, flexibility in work schedule or the chance to work in a service line you’re passionate about, knowing what’s most important will keep you grounded when opportunity knocks again.

10. Are you considering this counter-offer because of its playing on your emotions?

A new job has you starting from scratch which can be unnerving and stressful. Not fun for many people. The fear of change surfaces as itis easier to stay put in a job where you already know the evils. The longer you have worked for your current firm, the more comfortable you are, the more people you know, the more friendships you have established, etcetera. As a professional, your career decisions must be made objectively and logically; free from the emotional pressure you will experience.

It’s a fact that retaining top talent in the healthcare space has become increasingly difficult. Research shows there may be a shortage of more than 100,000 doctors by 2030. Physicians are in a good position regarding employment prospects and rising salaries. In this war for talent, counter-offers are an employer’s #1 tactic. You need to asses, with strategic interrogation, if accepting a counter-offer is counter-productive for your career. Need assistance with this? Connect with the healthcare staffing experts MedSource Consultants – we can help!