Compensation surveys provide the vital data necessary to help create compensation plans that will attract, retain and motivate the talent your organization needs to succeed. What follows are a few tips to help you get through the survey.
Tip No. 1: Use the Survey Company’s Resources
The company running your survey will assign an account manager. Get to know this person well. Pepper them with questions. You’ll receive a tool (often an Excel or similar spreadsheet) to submit your data. Scrutinize each column heading and be sure you understand exactly what belongs in each column. Know exactly what’s being asked for — and what isn’t — before you start filling in blanks.
Tip No. 2: Know the Important Dates
The survey will have an effective date for current data, a specific timeframe for historical data and usually a drop-dead submission deadline. The effective date for current data provides a snapshot of the information about your employees as of a particular date. The survey will have an effective date, often Jan. 1 of the current year.
The timeframe is the look-back period to request your historical data. This usually is the previous calendar year. You probably will have to ask payroll for a report of the actual data, so make sure you have the timeframe correct the first time.
While some surveys are evergreen — taking in data from participants throughout the year and frequently updating their databases — many surveys collect and publish just once per year. A survey often will allow a company to buy access to its data without participation, but at borderline-extortionist (ahem, much higher) prices.
Tip No. 3: Gather Data and Make Friends
Finishing that survey is a big job, and you’re going to need some help from other people who have projects of their own.
Make friends with Payroll — they’re the ones who get you those actual bonus amounts and commission payments. HR operations are the gatekeepers of HRIS, which is where you’ll get the needed employee data. Make sure the HR ops team saves the report for re-use, because you will be doing this again soon.
If sales roles are a part of your survey, you’ll want to get to know the sales operations team, specifically the people in charge of sales quotas and plan documents. Explain your exact needs, give them ample time and follow up as needed.
Tip No. 4: Determine the Best Match for Jobs at Your Company
The job description is probably the most important element. The survey will have a list of jobs for data collection that will include a brief description of the job. Determine the best match for the jobs at your company. Make a list of the job titles used in your organization and find the most current job description for each role. Update out-of-date or non- existent job descriptions, if possible; schedule time with a manager to discuss needed changes.
Tip No. 5: Accept That You Probably Will Not Match Every Job
You’ll likely find survey descriptions of jobs to be rather bereft of nuance and fine detail. When matching your job description to a blurb on a survey, most of the time you’ll need to be satisfied with about a 70% to 80% match of the job’s main responsibilities. Not every role will have a match that rises to this level, and that’s OK. When you decide on a match, keep track of the job code for that role. Next year’s survey will be much easier if you have a record of how you previously matched jobs.
Scott Boynton, CCP, is the compensation manager at CareerBuilder.com.