Compdata Surveys & Consulting Blog

How to Get the Most Out of Your Salary Survey Data

Posted by KC Hall on Jun 20, 2016 9:45:56 AM

Whether you use the latest survey data as soon as it's available to make compensation decisions, or wait to apply it to a bigger project or annual reviews, here are five tips that will help you make the most of the data at your fingertips.

Tip 1: Know Your Competition

Consider this question, "Does a hospital compete with a casino for labor?" The answer may be "Yes!" when considering certain positions, such as housekeeping, maintenance or food service.

Once you've evaluated your competition for labor, if the survey data you have access to does not include your true competition (even if only for some positions), consider a secondary survey source.

Tip 2: Be Diligent with Your Job Matches

compare-job-descriptions-versus-titles-graphic.jpgEven the best survey data is not valuable if it is not used properly.  Be careful to match to job descriptions, not just job titles.  If your descriptions are not up-to-date, take care to account for any added responsibilities within the position.  

Keep in mind the skill level within the same type of job can vary dramatically, and so can the pay.  Make certain the level of your job is consistent with the level of the survey job.

Tip 3: Manage Your Expectations

Even the most robust databases are unlikely to match every breakout for every job. For example, there may be a breakout for your geographic area, but not within your company size.  The data is valid and useful even though it does not match both criteria. An HR professional can utilize available data to draw appropriate conclusions.

Tip 4: Determine if a Decision Has Already Been Made

Are you being asked to support a decision that has already been made, or is it your role to introduce new information? Knowing this will help you be prepared whether the data supports or contradicts a prior decision by your leadership team.  

When presenting information, make sure the criterion for the data requested produces a report that reflects true market value. Providing multiple breakouts may help you paint a more complete picture.

Tip 5: Use Data as a Guide

Surveys are designed to provide a snapshot of the labor market, but compensation is an art, not a science.   Even the best data requires handling by an HR professional who understands the strategic compensation goals of the organization.  

Determining individual pay depends on the value of the job to the organization as a whole, and may vary based on the skill-level and experience of the individual in the position.  Survey data can give you a necessary and reliable representation of the market; it cannot tell you the exact amount to pay at your organization.  

Compdata has released 2016 results for Healthcare, Colleges & Universities and the general industry BenchmarkPro survey. Manufacturing & Distribution will be available in the next few weeks, with other industries to follow. Contact us if you need access to results!


Please note, portions of this content appeared in the article "Making Salary Surveys Work for You" by Theresa M. Worman and Greg J. Wolf of Compdata Surveys & Consulting.  It appeared in Workspan magazine (WorldatWork), (c) 2013.

Topics: salary survey, tip sheet, free download

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