Let me share an example. I have more, from other providers – maybe I’ll write them up too in the future.
The customer by the way, yes, that’s me. And you.
I suppose that you participate to compensation surveys. Like all of us, you do so in order to compare your pay to market and establish the policies and practices that will allow you to attract, retain and reward the talent that your organisation needs to reach its objectives. The usual bla bla…
In 2012, my team and I participated to as many surveys as possible, both from large and niche compensation providers. I wanted to be able to compare the quality and depth of results across the providers in order to decide which ones to focus on in the coming 2/3 years.
And guess what ?One of the “Big 3″ refuses to send us survey results in a format that will allow us to actually use the data.
We submit information on an employee by employee basis, with a job matching for each of them. Beyond the fancy graphs that senior management likes so much but that are barely useful for true compensation analysis, I expect to receive back an Excel sheet with market data based on the job matching for each of the employees I submitted.
Simply put, I want my submission file back, with extra columns indicating market results on the main components of the pay package, such as basic, guaranteed cash (monthly fixed including allowances), and bonus information. This then allows me to select the most relevant market data and use it for multiple purposes such as updating salary ranges, informing decisions on salary review budgets, or supporting recruitment in identifying reasonable packages for candidates.
Yet, this very large survey provider insists on only providing us with PDF files showing survey results based on their job descriptions, and the said graphs showing nice but general regression curves showing median and quartile market data as well as our own pay regression curve.
This means we can’t use the data for individual market benchmarking, unless we type, manually, the survey results into our own Excel file (time-consuming and error-prone). The information is in their database yet they won’t give it to us. And it’s not that they can’t do it : in Europe, I have always received from them the said information in the format I need.
Now, I know that in the Gulf, very few companies have Compensation & Benefits departments that actually know, care or are staffed enough to use the data on an individual basis as well as for collective study. But wherever I work, this degree of in-depth analysis is what I expect to produce or have my team produce.
This lack of responsiveness from the provider makes me so mad that I am seriously considering stopping participating to this survey, despite the fact that they have the largest bank of data in the region. What is the point in paying so much money to receive results we can’t use simply because they won’t run a report to extract the information from their database ?
In the GCC, the large survey providers tend to rely on their dominant position in the market to impose whatever they want to their clients, without paying much attention to what the client wants or says.
Eventually, it all comes down to (lack of) customer service and attention to the needs of the client. The niche survey providers and smaller consultants often provide much better quality in that area, but sometimes their data is not entirely reliable because they don’t have enough participants.
So in the end as the client, it is a delicate exercise to balance general survey results based on a large database but not necessarily useful to me, and sometimes incomplete for some of my specific positions, with more industry-relevant survey results from the niche providers. I can’t wait for the culture of benchmarking and sharing information to become more widespread in the region, so we can see the rise of real challengers in the compensation survey industry in the Middle East !
What do you say ? Do you sometimes feel like shaking your head in frustration or disbelief, or are you happy with the service given by the large survey providers in the region ? Share your stories in the comments section !
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