2 more tips to prepare your files for submission to compensation surveys

Third post in my monthly theme around Compensation Surveys. So far I have covered Why you should participate to compensation surveys as well as 4 habits to simplify your participation to salary surveys.

Today let me give 2 more tips to help you prepare your submission.

Employee identification

In a survey you should always strive to submit as many data points (information about specific employees) as possible. It ensures that you get survey results for as many positions as possible. When all survey participants submit all relevant employees to a survey, the quality of the results also goes up as data really represents what companies are paying, not what they are choosing to share (and by contrast, actively hiding).

For example, even if you have known outliers (people paid way above or below what your internal rate is for that position), you still need to include them as they will be useful in determining data at the fringe of the survey results such as the lower quartile / 25th percentile, and the highest quartile (75th percentile) or even the 90th percentile.

I have seen in the past some companies use the “Company employee identification” field in an incorrect manner. This field is reserved for inputting something that helps you identify the employee should you need to provide clarification or review the data at a later stage. It will also be helpful the following year when preparing to the new round of the survey as you will be able to use this year’s submission file to prepare for next year’s.

It is not good to input there :

  • the name of the employee (confidentiality issues)
  • the initials of the employee (confusing)
  • the internal employee ID number (can lead to confidentiality issues).

I advise to create a simple formula around the ID number of the employee, such as “multiply ID by 3” for example.Why ?

  • It maintains confidentiality
  • It is easy to retrieve the real employee whenever is required
  • Employee ID does not change throughout the life of an employee, while the name may change (woman getting married or divorced).
  • Employee ID does not lead to mistakes based on incorrect spelling of employee names, which can be quite frequent in the Middle East (think “Abdulla” vs “Abdullah” vs “Abdallah”).

Job matching

Job matching between the survey positions and your internal roles need to follow certain universal principles, no matter which survey you are participating to.

Match based on role not based on who is holding the job. The employee and how he/she performs is not what the survey is about, the survey is about comparing how much different employees in different organisations are earning for the same role.

Match based on job content not job title. For example, Vice-President is a quite common title in banking, while in manufacturing this title is usually reserved to the real top levels of the organisation.

Match if your internal role is at least 70 or 80% similar to the survey job – and don’t match if one of your internal roles is a true mix (eg 50/50 or 60/40) of 2 survey jobs. How do you determine that ?

If you have updated job descriptions, use them as the basis for the matching, and if you don’t or have some questions or doubts, work with the business to ensure you are matching properly. This takes care of the job content side of the matching.

For the level part of the matching, most of the time when you participate to multiple surveys, you don’t use the provider’s grading methodology, for example Hay points or Mercer IPE class. You will have to make some assumptions to compare your internal grading system to that of the provider before you start the actual matching as this will help you narrow the choices for the matching at the next step.

Sometimes the provider also have corespondance tables between their grading methodology and those of the main providers, and these tables will be really helpful.

One thing you need to be aware of is the “grading outliers” in your own company. Sometimes you have people who are in the “wrong” grade, either too high or too low. You need to make sure that when you submit their data, you match to the true survey grade of the job that they actually hold, not the one that their internal grade suggests.

Job matching is essential in compensation surveys as it allows you to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples, and that the results you will receive are relevant for your organisation. Use your common sense and feedback from the business and, when in doubt, don’t submit the data of that specific employee.


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