It will quite understandably have come as a great source of frustration for M&S that their new stores director David Lepley has had a last minute change of heart and opted to stay at Morrisons.

A great deal of time and resource goes into retail recruitment at the highest level. When you consider that notice periods can be anything up to a year for senior executives you could be looking at a near two-year delay if a candidate performs a U-turn just weeks before they are due to begin their new role.

Lepley, who is currently Morrisons’ operation director, is reported to have been offered a bigger role with the grocer although further details have not been revealed.

I don’t claim to know the circumstances behind this particular hire; however I am of the view that, in general, accepting a counter offer is the wrong thing to do.

The first thing to say is that the underlying issues that prompted you to consider other job opportunities will remain there. Situations and people don’t change overnight; moreover people who accept a counteroffer often feel that they have been bought rather than rewarded for the work they have done. This dissatisfaction will eventually affect your sense of belonging to the company. 

In my experience, promises made by employers often don’t come true which explains why, on average, around 80% of those who accept counter offers reignite their job search within three months.

On top of that, trust is likely to be broken between you and your current employer. Often, resignation is seen as lack of loyalty, and even though your current employer may have offered you a salary increase or promotion in order to retain your services, those around you will be questioning whether they can count on you, which will limit your future growth.

That’s not to so you won’t remain committed to doing your best for your current employer, but your employer and co-workers may treat you differently now that you have shown your willingness to leave the business.

Another key point to make is that accepting a last minute counter offer can potentially limit future career opportunities. As part of our work as head-hunters, we explain to our candidates that they will in all likelihood receive counter offers from their current employer. It is then our job to thoroughly assess their actions and personality in order to find out the truth behind what’s motivating them to put themselves forward for a role and spot any signs that they might be wavering in their decision.

The first and most obvious sign is have they accepted a counter offer before?

Are they slow to respond to phone calls or do they exhibit a general lack of strength of character?

If they haven’t already explored ways of fixing the issues that have caused them to seek a new job by, for instance, asking for a pay rise or asking their manager for more challenging work then it’s important to establish why not?

If we identify signs that suggest a candidate is not 100% committed to taking up a job offer we will remove them from the process. And if they sign a contract and then renege on it by accepting a counter offer we will not put them forward for future roles in line with the industry standard.