Salary Surveys 20|20: Why Surveys NOW?

Written by Jonathan Sweet

July 27, 2020

Salary Surveys 20|20: Why Surveys NOW Hero

In the environment we are in now, with all the uncertainty in our personal and professional lives, it is important for us to make decisions that are backed by data, even if that data is imperfect.  Market data and compensation surveys offer a great and stable resource for organizations but are by no means perfect. Salary surveys by nature (and by law) are backwards looking.  You are not going to get daily or weekly updates from salary surveys.  That does NOT mean salary surveys have no value, are not a relevant tool for the compensation and HR professional, or worth participating in now.

In this, the final installment in our five-part series “Salary Surveys 20|20,” we give you a whole host of reasons surveys are worth investing your time and money in RIGHT NOW.

  • Historical data and trends from salary surveys can offer us guidance on a go-forward plan even in something as unprecedent as the current environment. Salary surveys have been conducted for decades, through economic booms and recessions, to single-digit unemployment economies and life-altering tragedies.
    .Recommendation:  Start collecting data NOW.  Be proactive and start to build your data archive. I recommended at the onset, surveys that update multiple times per year are preferable, quarterly is optimal.  You should look at acquiring data throughout the next 24 to 36 months with a focus on your labor markets juxtaposed to your internal organizational data.  If you are an organization that purchases data every other year, invest in data in back-to-back years.
  • Do your part, participate and everyone wins! Surveys are a community and survey vendors work with and for the greater good of the community.   I stated earlier data volatility is an enemy for survey vendors and participants.  Its imperative data volatility is low, especially during volatile economic conditions.   Consistent participation is the only way to ensure the community gets the most accurate and up to date data.  That community includes ‘alternative’ data vendors.  Aggregated employer reported data and crowd-sourced employee reported data, as mentioned, also rely on salary survey data, and by extension, the community of participants within those surveys.
    Recommendation:  Participate even if there is no budget or immediate need.  Engage your survey provider for additional information.  Many survey vendors are conducting “off-cycle” and pulse surveys on related current events.  Ask to get involved or provide feedback on a topic that you are interested in.  Additionally, consultants and survey analysts see and talk to a lot of personas within the companies they are engaged with.  They can provide some great anecdotal data from their experiences ‘in the trenches.’
  • Take the opportunity to look at your internal pay practices and ‘shore up’ top performers. Before the downturn while you were going on that hiring binge, did you have to extend a bit to bring in a new candidate?  How did that impact your pay grades and the morale of existing employees? Pay equity? Chances are the employees that are contributing for you now were the top performers back then.
    Recommendation:  Identify ‘flight risk’ within your top performing employee population.  Review their current pay against salary survey data and recommend adjustments to leadership where appropriate.

The Compdata and IPAS survey practice at is one of the largest compensation data providers in the world with compensation and benefits data spanning 100 countries across 24 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 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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