Let’s begin with the candidate. At the end of the day, the candidate is the one who is most often damaged when participating in a counter offer negotiation between two competing firms. Accepting, or even considering, a counter offer when interviewing for a new position sends a strong signal to both companies the candidate lacks character, commitment, loyalty and can be easily bought. This behavior should send a warning message to both competing firms.
For the existing employer, if an employee is so singularly focused on compensation, they are not the type of employee any company should seek. Strong, valuable and passionate employees are not at your firm only for a paycheck. They are with your firm for a sense of purpose, career advancement, to participate in a community of people with a focus on a common goal. If money is the most important objective for your employees, then you have already lost your competitive edge and you will continue to risk losing more people in the future.
When an existing employer is approached by an employee and asked to counter a new or existing offer, the employer is basically being faced with the reality this employee is not happy and ready to make a move. If the employer isn’t properly compensating valuable employees, it should not try a last ditch effort to maintain a valuable employee. The company should be focused on putting more effort in all of their existing staff, so the employees will not be motivated to entertain new opportunities.
And finally, the offering company should never…ever participate in competing with an employees existing company’s counter offer. The fact the candidate even broaches this topic sends the clear message they may never have been interested in working for your company in the first place. At best, they are willing to entertain staying in their current position for more money only and at worst they are using the interviewing process and new offer as a negotiating tactic. In either case, this is not a person you want to join your firm.