Compensation Data 101 – The Benefits of a Salary Survey

by | Published on Sep 23, 2021 | Last Updated on Jan 25, 2024 | Academy

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What is a salary survey?

A salary survey is used by HR & Compensation professionals to help them establish a fair and competitive salaries and merit increases for the employees within a company. It is not recommended for a company to conduct a salary survey themselves, as this could be viewed as price-fixing, and therefore a third-party survey provider is used to conduct a custom salary survey.

The survey provider gathers employee data from various companies, scrubs the compensation data, and produces results in the statistical form of average pay, median pay, and multiple percentiles of pay. These results are typically displayed by industry, geography, company peer groups, revenue, headcounts, and more.

The benefits of a salary survey are numerous. They are essential for benchmarking the salaries of your own positions, developing pay grades and salary bands, and ensuring fair pay and merit increases for your employees. Unlike digging up data on a web search, salary surveys let you compare your data with companies that are similar to yours.

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What determines a trusted compensation survey provider?

One of the most significant factors is data quality. So how do you ensure high data quality? The answer is to use a salary survey provider specializing in only salary surveys and always maintain the highest survey methodology and standards.

A good survey provider has experience conducting wage surveys, processing compensation data, data storage, and providing confidentiality to all of the participants in the survey. Additionally, the salary data should always be thoroughly analyzed by a compensation professional with solid experience as they understand pay practices and recognize trends in the market.

The last component of a good salary survey is the tool that produces the results. Therefore, a salary data tool needs to slice and dice the results and provide an employer the ability to carve out salary data statistics comparable to their organization.

Reliability and trusted compensation data.

There are many compensation data sources; some are free, others paid, and many offer cloud-sourced solutions. The trouble is, without knowing the actual source and methods used to gather the salary data, how can you put your trust in the data. Some questions you should ask are:

  1. How old is the salary data? Was it sourced from job posting boards?
  2. Was it self-reported by the employee and not an HR professional?
  3. Did an HR or Compensation Professional review and validate the data?
  4. How closely does the sourced data match the job title it is claiming to support.
  5. Is the salary data reputable enough to make adjustments to my organizations wages and pay practices?

The best way to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the compensation data is to use a trusted salary survey provider. By doing so, you will know the answers to all of the questions above confidently.

Job matching accuracy

Perhaps the most significant factor that makes the salary data trusted and reliable is the job matching accuracy. In other words, how accurately do the survey job title and survey job description match the particular employee in the survey?

The best way to ensure accurate job matching is to have high-quality job descriptions and job titles that an employer can easily match to the survey. The second part is to have this job matching reviewed by a compensation professional at the survey provider to confirm the accuracy of the salary data on job matching

In conclusion

There are many components to a salary survey that affect the quality of the data. Utilizing a survey provider with the experience and knowledge will ensure that you are using accurate salary data that your organization can depend on for critical decisions concerning pay. For more information or to participate in one of our surveys, please register for a given survey, or contact us with questions.