Salary surveys have always been a mainstay for Compensation. Compensation professionals spend thousands of dollars annually to gain access to local, regional, national, and international surveys to ensure that pay practices are aligned with their pay philosophy in relation to the market. The truly reputable surveys (and typically most expensive) ensure that the data provided is from organizations and not employees. This practice safeguards the submittal of accurate compensation data that has not been overstated. Compensation departments have relied on this data to establish their budget for new hire salaries, promotions, and adjustments.
In the last decade, open-access online surveys have provided cheaper (many times free) alternatives to the traditional salary survey. These surveys have taken a different approach and collect their data directly from employees. Generally speaking, employers are wary of the data provided to online surveys since employees may choose to overstate their income thinking that by providing higher income data they will benefit if their employer uses online surveys to establish their compensation program. Additionally, an employee could utilize online data to assist with pay increases at his/her current employer or help negotiate a large increase with a future employer.
Employees are taking it a step further in 2019. They are creating their own websites for specific careers and requesting colleagues to provide data. I reviewed one such site two weeks ago for software engineers. Employees submitted their data and specified their company so that other software engineers have an understanding of pay practices with that employer and are well armed if they engage in salary negotiations.
In an era of transparency in everything we do, this new concept is not surprising. I understand the desire to support colleagues and share information for the potential betterment of all. However, I am not sold on the correctness of this data. My experience indicates that employees do not always understand the various pieces of their compensation and many times provide incorrect data. Sometimes this is unintentional and sometimes intentional to skew the numbers.
These less expensive (many times free) surveys also tend to exclude total rewards data such as benefits, flexibility, and culture. I believe compensation should be viewed holistically in not only looking at actual compensation, but other perks the employer may provide that can equate to financial advantages (i.e. remote work, flexible office hours, relaxed dress code, on-site child care, bring pet to work, etc.).
I appreciate data. Therefore, I think any data you can get your hands on should be reviewed, evaluated, and considered in context. However, I would not review data in a vacuum and would always look for several sources in order to make an educated decision on the true trend.
Meet The Comp Chick
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult.
The Comp Chick, aka, Jennifer Peacock has more than 25 years of diverse experience in human resources ranging from consulting to corporate HR leadership. She started The Comp Chick blog as a way to show her peers that Compensation doesn't have to be boring or difficult. All information included in this blog is opinion.