By Shaun Simmons, Managing Director, Specialist Division, Cordant Group

With the jobs market picking up, a fifth of employees are planning to change jobs this year, according to the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

When a key member of your staff decides to leave, particularly in a small business, it can seriously impact your performance and affect the motivation of your remaining staff.

But all is not lost. Multi-brand recruitment giant, Cordant Group, has seen a significant rise in the number of companies making “counter-offers” to their staff in order to keep hold of their talent. This rising trend is particularly prevalent in amongst experienced managers and workers in highly skilled professions, for example, technical and engineering.

Is it worth making a counter-offer to an employee? The majority of offers are salary driven — some in the region of 25 per cent more than the employee’s original salary. Whilst more money is hard for most staff to refuse, statistics from Cordant Group show that 67 per cent of candidates who accept a counter-offer by an existing employer are back looking for another job again in three months’ time.

So can counter-offers ever work? In short, yes, but they need to be about more than money. Most employees, when questioned, will admit that the main reason they wanted to leave in the first place was not about money, but lack of career development, prospects or training.

Here are some pointers to business owners and managers on how to make a winning counter offer:

• Money is very rarely the primary motive for someone wanting to leave. Career development, prospects, training and support usually come first. Some employees are even willing to take a pay cut if the position provides better career advancement
• It sounds obvious, but find out the reason why. Address each of these concerns individually
• If a large pay rise is part of the deal to stay, remember to set expectations as often this means no more salary increases for several years
• Be aware that they will want everything in writing and will want to verify offers like new training opportunities
• Be aware of gazumping - employees may use the counteroffer to play off against the other company
• Don’t promise the earth — if you can’t deliver it will only cause resentment later on
• And if you can’t meet the competition’s offer, consider temporary or interim workers who can often hit the ground running and give you a bit of breathing space