It’s the war of the wallets as bosses try to persuade their best staff to stay on

I quit! Should you ever persuade an employee to stay?

Veteran estate agents have lived through the era of ‘board wars’ but now there’s a new battle afoot: we could call it ‘wallet wars’.

With experienced talent in high demand, my team is increasingly seeing agency bosses refusing to take a resignation lying down and making a counter-offer to entice top performing staff to stay.

Even when a seemingly sincere estate agent has had several in-depth interviews in which they’ve enthused about the fresh opportunity and entered into lengthy negotiations about their package, they will sometimes pull out at the final hurdle.

Having invested considerable time, energy and skill in seeking out the right candidate and promoting their virtues to the prospective employer, this is obviously bad news for headhunters and recruitment agencies.

After all, we only get paid when the placement is made and a successful trial period completed.

Damaging for everyone

Frustrating as it is to see your efforts come to nothing, I don’t expect you to shed any tears for me or my hard-working team. But this behaviour harms all of us.

It wastes the prospective employer’s time, destroys the employee’s credibility and reputation (people have long memories when they’ve been messed around) and is massively damaging for the industry as agency owners decide to look outside it for talent.

Most importantly, while it may buy the employer some time, convincing a quitter to stay rarely works out long-term.

You may harbour resentment about being forced to pay an employee more than you think they’re worth and there will always be that nagging doubt – can I ever fully trust them again?

As soon as that employee made the decision to leave they mentally checked out. They may show up for work with their body, but they leave their brain and their heart at home.

Workforce researchers call it the “quit and stay” syndrome.

Unlike an employee who actually leaves, this group slowly, but surely, puts in less and less effort, yet they stay on the payroll.

I suspect the figures are far lower in our target-driven industry, but the data tells us in likelihood a large percentage of your workforce has already quit – they’re just still sitting in your offices. According to Gallup, disengaged employees account for more than 70% of the workforce.

Personally, I would question whether I want an ‘unhappy camper’ representing my brand and looking after my valuable customers. As an employer myself, I only hire people who actively want to be there.

As for the candidate, there was a reason why they were tempted to look around in the first place and those underlying factors – that line manager they didn’t get on with, the lack of career prospects – will still be there if they are persuaded to stay.

How committed are they likely to be long-term? My purely anecdotal evidence suggests about six months.

When yet another candidate withdraws at the eleventh hour because their employer has belatedly realised their value and made a counter-offer, a part of me wonders, in our male-dominated industry, how much of this behaviour is driven by sheer competitiveness – with agency bosses acting like two silverbacks asserting their dominance.

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  1. MrIndependent

    Last year I left a corporate agent in favour of returning to my independent roots…it came as no surprise that after confidently handing over my letter of notice, shortly after I was offered more money to stay…

    I remember feeling one thing about this – if you valued me enough to pay me more money, why didn’t you offer pay rises willingly over the previous 7 years? The only pay rise I ever received was a few years prior when I had another job offer and threatened to leave!!

    My mind was already made up last year, I had accumulated enough good reasons to go and few to stay, but bottom line here is:

    Employers – if you value your staff always reward them and give them recognition!

    Employees – if you have decided to go don’t let a few extra thousand sway you to stay, the other problems won’t  have changed!!!

  2. smile please

    Shock, horror. Recruiter tells owners not to keep the staff he is trying to poach for fear of losing his fee.

    1. Guy_Hodge02

      Just love reading critical comments from subscribers who like to remain anonymous.

      1. smile please

        What relevance is my name to a post?

        Bit odd!

        1. smile please

          Ahhhhh i see why you are upset, you work for the company in question.

          I assume you would like to know who i am so you can pick holes in my company / standing.

          Difference is i am not doing an advert by way of an article. If and when i submit an article to Ros trying to drum up business feel free to call me out on it.



  3. Jacqueline Emmerson

    The other issue of course is that staff will know this has happened and they will start going for interviews, negotiating a higher salary and then presenting this to their employer. There is one firm in the North East whose staff I will not entertain. A number of them have come for interview and then used our offer to up their wages. An odd way to run your business, giving pay rises when staff have handed in their notice.

  4. Property Paddy

    I cant leave, no one wants me !

  5. DASH94

    If an employee wants to leave a job so badly that they’ve applied for another job elsewhere, there’s more to their discontent than money, and if money is the only motivator for staying then do you really want to keep them anyway?


    In my experience, if you ‘buy’ someone back, you’re only delaying the inevitable.

  6. CountryLass

    I was offered another job, ironically to go back to my old company. They approached me, not the other way round which was nice! I told my current boos and was upfront that I wanted to stay, but financially I had to think about what was best for my family. They offered me an increase on my wage, it didn’t quite match the other offer, however there are extra benefits ere, so I decided to stay. I had interviewed at another place and was fairly confident I was going to receive a job offer, and I did feel bad pulling out, but I needed to give an answer and they wanted me to come back for a third interview…

  7. goodlord_ed

    Totally agree that it’s a damaging cycle for all involved – Employers do need to wholeheartedly embrace a culture of recognition, while Employees need perspective on what’s genuinely on importance to them.

    Keeping (and significantly, motivating) key staff members is always tough, though attrition of the levels seen in agency seem to be unique.

    Our CCO at Goodlord recently wrote a blog post about this:


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