Managing salary surveys – Part II
Before proceeding to the actual data collection, the company must first set the parameters (time period, budget allocation) the company is willing to invest in this exercise.
1. Data collection
Concurrently, together with the expert/s appointed to conduct the survey, the company also needs to identify and evaluate from the onset what the survey is to identify and analyse. Is the survey aimed at extracting information about the total reward (that is, the basic salary and any incentive pays) or is it aimed at identifying possible indirect compensation options, such as employee benefits?
Jointly, the company and the experts will also need to identify the companies participating in the survey: the type of business, their financial performance measures (if necessary), their size, structure, year of establishment. This information is required to correctly benchmark like-with-like. It is no secret that much larger organisations (in terms of size), are likely to have pay differences across the organisation. The organisational structure of such companies is different to the one employed by smaller organisations.
Job descriptions also play an important part in the survey. One point that immediately comes to mind is the array of different job titles bestowed by the different companies to one and similar jobs. As mentioned above, we need carry a like-with-like analysis, so before proceeding it is important that job descriptions are compared, and similar responsibilities are identified and categorised for the scope of the survey (same information can also be used by HR in other instances). Using qualifications and years of experience can also provide added comparison tools and help better guide the job description comparison process.
Once the above basics are finalised, the company and the experts can then proceed to the actual collection of data stage. Now let me emphasise that way the questions are drawn up and the number of questions being asked will make or break the success of the salary survey. AVOID over-complicating the survey by trying to extract too much information. Too many questions will put off respondents as it will be seen as time-consuming or also seen as too invasive. Many questions do not necessarily mean collecting truly useful information. The expert has a direct interest in drafting the right questions, as ultimately the analysis will depend on the replies received.
An incentive for providing the data may need to be given, for companies to participate. It is important to explain to participants how the process will work and what the scope is. The best possible incentive you may consider is to share part of the end results with the participating companies. This approach will increase the participation rate and also be an incentive to give correct information.
With regards to data collection methods, there exists two effective ways: electronically through online software (free survey platforms may be sufficient for this) or by meeting and interviewing the survey participant face-to-face (old school pen and paper method).
Anonymity is always a concern for participating companies. To respect this concern, the survey should be carried out by the expert or someone directly appointed and answerable to him/her. It is important to assure participants that data will be aggregated, and that individual information will not be included in the report. Through this professional approach, the participants will feel more inclined to participate and this will also be helping improve the response rate.
…to be continued in Part III
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About the author
Maria Bartolo Zahra is Managing Director and HR Advisor at SurgeAdvisory. She has over fifteen years of human resources and business advisory experience.