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WORKSPAN
WORKSPAN DAILY |

A New Approach to Salary Survey Data


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Editor’s Note: Workspan Daily will be reproducing a monthly Compensation Café blog post for the benefit of our readers and to encourage further discourse on topics vital to compensation professionals. New to WorldatWork? Please feel free to join the discussion in our Online Community or send your thoughts to workspan@worldatwork.org.

Having access to timely salary data is critical to organizations' ability to make informed decisions when it comes to securing talent and maintaining their competitive position. The insights we extract from purchased results are an essential ingredient in being able to defend the why and how in our pay approach. Herein also lies the question of whether market data is holding up to the demands of supplying organizations with timely, accurate and reliable insights that will inform pay decisions internally and equip organizations to compete in the talent war.

While I will continue to be an advocate for data, it's worth noting that our dependence on it is demanding a better return on investment. The environment, our organizations, and its people are moving at an alarming pace. The ability to tap into data that is reflective of your immediate location, of a comparable role match, and — most importantly — is current, is hard to come by. 

The inability to benchmark affects compensation professionals’ ability to manage and retain talent and, subsequently, disrupts the integrity of maintaining pay fairness and equity in pay design and administration. Case in point: bringing in a new hire at a rate that is above the pay grade and that of an existing seasoned professional internally.

For us to regain trust in our survey data, we need to also think of the factors that are causing ambiguity and what measures we will take in response. Below are just a few examples to open this conversation:

  • Technology: Survey platforms need to move at the same pace as many of our compensation management tools (i.e. real time). The data collection process needs to be seamless, effortless and one that adopts integrative techniques that validate, job match, and facilitate the ability to regularly update or refresh. Imagine regular data feeds from participant HRIS systems.
  • Time: Time is not only a question of survey providers releasing information but also in having the dedicated resources internally to participate in what can be a labor-intensive process. Lack of time leads to a lack of participation, which reduces the number of available data points and the size of your sample set. This inadvertently affects the statistical outputs. For some, this means a lack of data visibility and/or having to resort to a larger peer group. 
  • Job Matching: The rate of job creation is faster than what education and employers can keep up with. Hence, the roles you are survey matching to may not be equivalent.  Interpretation of how you benchmark and in turn use this data is key as to whether you will need to mark up or down the results. Furthermore, through technology integration and creating an enhanced survey experience, we can facilitate a more continual scan and output of the unique job titles observed. Additionally, consolidating online job postings could give us a more real-time perspective of the emerging roles of our competitors and the posted pay ranges.  
  • Flexibility: Perhaps we need to rethink our longstanding cyclic process of survey participation. For years it has been the same scheduling of events; this timing is no longer conducive to today’s immediate needs.

Alternatively, we may need to evolve our pay structures altogether and become more broad-based (if not already) to accommodate for market variability. Consider also that select cross-functional jobs may not move at the same pace as hot skill or IT positions. Because of this, there is a degree of data interpretation required when assessing the larger overarching market perspective relative to your organization.

Overall, the need for data will be a persistent one, as is the need to attract, retain and motivate our talent. Similar to how we have recently adopted new strategies to cope with redefined work, we are not far behind in how we begin to re-envision our approach in participating in and handling data from surveys.

About the Author


Reena Paul CCP, GRP is a senior consultant with Morneau Shepell’s Compensation Consulting Team. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

This article was first published at Compensation Café on Aug. 4, 2021. 


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