HR Guide to the Internet:
Compensation: Salary Survey: Conducting Your Own


How do I conduct a salary survey? Comprehensive methodology for conducting salary surveys Use of clear and consistent guidelines for evaluating labor market conditions
Identifying benchmark positions and employers
Goal: To develop a survey process that is streamlined and refined
Goal: To impove the methodology and survey process
  1. Roles:
    1. Survey Administrator/Advisory Committee - Determines the positions to be included in the survey and the types of information to be collected.
    2. Analyst - Responsible for monitoring the progress of survey participants; may perform data entry of survey responses; assists participants in interpreting the survey questionnaire and job descriptions; assists the participants in the process of completing the questionnaire; may assist in interpreting the survey results;
    3. Participant - Matches jobs on the survey questionnaire to jobs at the participating institution; may compute average salaries, minimum, or maximum salaries; provides survey response within the specified deadline;
  2. Determining 'benchmark' positions
    1. Common Classification Standard - Jobs on a survey should be developed using a common classification standard.
    2. Sample Job Titles and Descriptions - Demo app at HR.Superb.Net
    3. Sources of job titles and descriptions - DOT, SOC, other classification systems.
  3. Describing benchmark jobs
    Balance between specificity of the description and generalizeability of the job for matching
  4. Grouping positions into job families
    1. Similarity of functions
    2. Hierarchy within job family
  5. Defining what data to collect
    1. General Participant Information - Name and address of participating institution, number of employees in various categories, measures of fiscal size (Operating Budget; Assets; Annual Revenues; Sales; ...), industry classification/type, ownership (public/private),
    2. Contact Information - Name, address, title, phone, fax, and email of person responding to the survey
    3. Employment Information - Benefits, working conditions, standard work week, union affiliations, cost of living increases,
    4. Job Data including:
      1. headcount - Number of incumbents in the job classification
      2. average salary - Sum of the salaries of the incumbents divided by the number of incumbents
      3. salary ranges - Applies only to those positions with specified minimum and maximum salaries
      4. starting salary - may be the same as the minimum salary
      5. exempt status
      6. bonuses
      7. commissions
      8. overtime payments
      9. reporting relationship
      10. relative weights -
    5. Designing the questionnaire form and brief job descriptions
    6. Assurance of Confidentiality - Before you begin the salary survey, you should examine the measures taken to ensure the confidentiality of the survey participants.
      1. Unions - Salary data may be mis-used by union employees to gain bargaining power. Therefore extreme caution must be used when responding to requests by Unions for salary survey data.
      2. Survey Analysts - When using analysts to assist in conducting the survey, you may want to reassure the survey participants that the Analysts are sworn to secrecy with regard to the salary data: “Survey Analysts shall exercise discretion when conducting the survey and shall not disseminate information that is proprietary and confidential. Analysts shall not use such information for personal gain.”
      3. Results only to Participants - Often times, the survey results are only provided to survey participants. This is one way to increase the participation rate. This also helps reassure participants that the results will not be used by consultants (for monetary gain).
      4. Coding of Participant Information - If you report the data for each participant (in addition to averages), one way of helping to ensure confidentiality is to code the participant’s response in the survey results using a alphabetic code. (see example).
    7. Access to results?
    8. Identification of participants
      1. Selection of participants can affect the results.
      2. Sources of participants include
        1. Local businesses
        2. Associations of employers (within one industry)
        3. Other salary surveys
        4. Previously surveyed companies
      3. Criteria for selection of participants
        1. Established Businesses - startup's may be under significant fluctuations in salary levels
        2. Should be able to provide data on at least 30 employees
        3. As much as possible, the participants from the previous years that the survey was conducted should be encouraged to participate. This will improve the reliability of the survey results from one year to the next.
        4. Number of Participants If surveying positions with high turnover, dramatically increasing salaries, or large variability in salaries for the same types of jobs, you should try to use a large number of participants to develop more accurate averages
      4. Contacting the Participants
        Letter sent to Human Resources Manager or Compensation Manager to announce the survey and request participaiton. This letter should include information on the participation deadlines, contact information for answers to questions.
      5. Distribution of the survey questionnaire (mail, fax, internet)
        1. If the questionnaire is lengthy you may want to mail it only to participants who respond to the initial letter.
        2. Mail to the questionnaire either with the initial letter or in response to a reply from the solicited participant.
      6. Data Collection
      7. Coding of Responses
      8. Follow up (phone / email)
        1. Non Respondents; Need more time? Deadline extension?
        2. Incomplete Responses; Missing Data; Failure to report data on common positions
        3. Extreme Responses
          1. Above ranges
          2. Annualized salaries (only reported 10-month rates)

 

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