What are useful retail compensation surveys and benchmarks in EMEA ?

Fourth instalment in my monthly theme of Compensation Surveys. We have covered so far Why you should participate to compensation surveys, 4 habits to simplify participating to compensation surveys, and 2 more tips to prepare your files for submission to compensation surveys.

Today I will share my reply to a question that a contact on LinkedIn recently asked me : “I have just been assigned to Europe, DACH, Iberia, Australia, and Nordic regions and understand that I should forget everything I know regarding US compensation because its totally different.

I’m still at the inception phase of trying to understand who the players are and the organization dynamics. My first assignment is to understand the contacts, their salary, and whether we are paying according to market. Then the obvious result is to try to build a structure around the market data.

We took a first stab at getting market data for our head director in each country but it was pretty costly. We used (name witheld) as the survey vendor. I’m not sure if there are other surveys that may be useful for a retail organization. Any suggestions, templates, books, resources, or advice you can provide would be very appreciated.”

My answer is tied to the person’s industry, which is retail, but the advice applies in all cases when you expand into new countries or new industries.

Surveys are the best way to get compensation data in EMEA. Most of the providers will not sell the results to you, because the databases are much smaller than in the US.

So my advice is :

  • either you pay for compensation data for one job only (you don’t participate to the survey but the provider gives you a data point for that specific position. Hay for example, but I think the other major providers, will do that for you)
  • or you participate to the survey and in that case you submit as many participants as possible so that you reduce the cost of pricing per job.

The season to participate is right now as the deadlines are usually in May or June in EMEA.

Some of the larger providers that are good for general industry and have an international presence are Hay, Towers Watson, Mercer and Aon Hewitt . You have to budget between 3 and 5,000 USD per survey per country – you may get a discount if participate in multiple countries at the same time.

A provider may be strong in one country, but not as good in another. I suggest you contact them all and ask for the list of participating companies in each country in order to help you narrow it to maybe 2 surveys per country. You will have to go through the exercise and get actual results in order to decide which survey is best for you in each country.

Once you participate you can also usually ask for a peer cut to target more precisely the industry-specific roles, while the general industry results may also be useful for support functions.

You may want to discuss with your local HR and ask them which surveys they already participate in.

Another source of compensation information, though not 100% reliable, but quick and effective, could be to ask recruitment agencies as some of them specialise in specific industries. Simply remember that depending on their fee system, some of them might give you information in the high end of the range, especially if their fee is a % of the salary paid to the candidate that you hire through them.

Finally, also ask your local HR if they can get information through their local national HR network, not all countries have one but it is worth checking (eg : CIPD in UK, ANDRH in France…).

Retail is usually one of the low-paying industries, with many jobs that require no or little skills or education, with scalable models. So it will be relatively rare, in Europe, for you to find big teams of dedicated C&B people in this industry – there may be some at HQ for executive pay and overall incentive design, but that will be it most probably.

I never supported retail while I was based in Europe so I’m afraid I can’t be more specific. Maybe there is a LinkedIn Group specialised in retail industry ? or even for HR in retail ? You might get good contact points there.

Finally, a general comment :

When you start working internationally, no matter which topic you will cover in C&B, it is crucial that you establish a good relationship with the local HR representatives.

Don’t be just the “corporate” that gives them more work and more reporting to do. This is especially true if there is no C&B representative in the country and your point of contact is an HR generalist : in that case, not only are you “Corporate”, but are also making them focus on C&B, which is usually the area where generalists feel the least comfortable.

If you display a genuine interest in how things work in their country, and find ways to be flexible in your requests (for example changing a deadline or a template) to accomodate their constraints if possible, you will earn a lot more support.

A good way to do that, and for you to be better at your role, is to tour the main countries and spend some time there to get to know people and understand first-hand in which conditions they work, the local challenges etc. A good start could be by googling overview of local labour laws.

So, back to you, my readers. Are there surveys, resources or other providers that you can recommend for the retail industry in EMEA and Australia ? If so, please share them in the comments section. Thanks !

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  1. Sandrine —- you might tell this person to try

    IPAS® Global Consumer Industry Compensation Survey

    I have never worked in retail, but have participated many times in the IPAS Global High Tech Survey and found it to be excellent.

    The Kenexa website (who owns this survey) does not give any details but suggest this person contact them. I do know however —- if it is like their high tech survey —- you do not pay per country. You pay one price for total number of countries you participate in. Obviously the more countries, the cheaper the price. BUT it is much cheaper than paying $3,000-$5,000 per country like Mercer, etc. charge. For example the company I used the high tech survey for had 20 countries. Our price for all countries total was $9,000. Now that was 3 years ago and the price will likely be higher. Plus if you don’t have many countries your price will be higher. But I would contact them to see a list of participating companies as well as find out the price.

    • Sandrine says

      Dear Jacque – thanks for your reply, very useful ! I have sent the link to my reader. And thanks for reading my blog 🙂

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