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Salary Surveys 20|20: Types of Market Data

Written by Jonathan Sweet

July 13, 2020

Salary Surveys 20|20: Types of Market Data Hero

Despite mergers and acquisitions within and by the large survey houses over the years, there is much more data available today than there was a decade ago.  With advances in ERP, HRIS and payroll software applications, HR and compensation professionals can easily extract files and submit data to survey vendors quicker than ever before.

Survey vendors have also improved in several ways by utilizing software and artificial intelligence in mapping, collecting, validating, and reporting large data sets.  This frees up more time for the human interaction to follow up and directly service participants who may need additional assistance with their participation. Furthermore, technology and innovation has led to new and exciting data offerings which have gained traction and have found their place within the compensation practitioners tool kit.

  • Domestic and Global Participant surveys are the preferred source of compensation data. These surveys typically require participation to gain access to results.  Many vendors offer non-participant options but be prepared; you are going to pay a premium for it.  In the United States there are quite a few firms to choose from.  Outside the US options for data is much more limited.  In some global markets there may be as few as a handful of survey options available, perhaps less.
    market
  • Aggregated employer reported data is a great augment to traditional salary surveys to fill in gaps where data may be insufficient or unavailable. Coupled with survey data you can achieve wide coverage of your jobs across various pay markets with defensible, peer driven data.  Aggregated employer reported data is an assessment of the market by a vendor utilizing multiple employer-reported salary surveys as the backbone of the research.  The results are a blend of those sources of data.  The sources of which are matched as closely to the user’s selection of an industry, geography, and company size as possible.  The availability of more precise data typically not covered by salary surveys is the result of an adjustment where data in a user’s selection is thin or non-existent.
    market
  • Employee reported/crowd-sourced data has found its way to HR and compensation professionals with mixed impressions. According to a 2017 Compensation Trend Survey conducted by Salary.com polling more than 1,200 compensation and HR professionals, 70% of respondents stated they aren’t comfortable using employee-reported data to determine market rates for jobs, with under 2% of respondents stating they would use it as their only source of salary benchmark data.
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    Fast forward to the 2019 Pay Practices Survey conducted by Salary.com which reports 66% of nearly 1,500 compensation and HR professionals polled stated they are not comfortable using employee data to determine market rates for positions.S
    .

    Digging in a bit further to determine how and when folks might use this type of data: 27% of respondents stated they would use it as a data point in an overall market assessment, 20% as a data point in pricing a single job, with 18.5% suggesting they would use the data as a gut check on a single job, but not as a data point in the market pricing itself.  35% responded they would not use employee reported or crowd-sourced data at all.
Salary Survey Types of Market DataSource: Salary.com 2019 Pay Practices and Compensation Strategy Survey                                                                                                                                                 

So while not widespread adoption, crowd-sourced data in the future may have a place as an additional data point to consider.  In fact with the ‘democratization’ of salary data, compensation and HR should be prepared now and understand the salary expectations of an employee or candidate who may have consumed crowd-sourced employee data.

What’s interesting is these “alternative data sources” either use salary survey data as the foundation of their software products (Salary.com) or use survey data to verify or validate their crowd-sourced employee reported data offering (Payscale).
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Salary Survey Types of Market DataSource: Salary.com 2019 Pay Practices and Compensation Strategy Survey                                                                                                                                                 

In our next post we will provide some helpful tips for managing your relationship with your survey partner(s).

The Compdata and IPAS survey practice at Salary.com is one of the largest compensation data providers in the world with compensation and benefits data spanning 100 countries across 17 industry verticals.  To learn more, contact us at 781-552-4596.

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about the author
Jonathan Sweet is the Director of Survey Sales at Salary.com where he advises clients with global benchmark and benefits data projects. Jon has over 15 years of experience in sales, service, and operations working with partners in the Human Resources and Compensation space.
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