Why you should participate to compensation surveys

Why you should participate to compensation surveys

Today marks the launch of an experiment in my blogging.

As you know, I post 3 times per week, with some topics coming on a regular basis. I want to try something out and introduce a Theme of the Month.

Through this new approach, I want to provide a bit of consistency to my posts, without overpowering the month and writing only about it – I would find it boring and contrived, and I’m sure you would too !

For this exercise, I have chosen Compensation Surveys. Every week during May, one of my 3 posts will be related to the theme. I will cover some advice on how to make your life easier before participating to compensation surveys, some Excel tips, and who should participate to the study.

I will start this week by covering why you should participate in compensation surveys.

Participation to salary surveys is notoriously low and  inconsistent in the Middle East. A lot of companies don’t participate. Some who do, on purpose, only submit information for a few positions, and/or don’t submit all relevant employee data. Others who do, don’t submit appropriately for lack of understanding and mastery of the data required and why it is needed.

I believe the first thing is to educate senior management as well as HR and C&B peers on why participating to surveys is a good thing.

If not enough companies participate, the survey has no value. If your organisation is a market leader or admired by others in the industry or region, consider if your participation might act as a catalyst for other companies to also participate. This could lead to better data for everyone, which would be a great win-win-win result for all parties : your company, the other participants, and the survey provider.

If enough companies from the same industry participate, there could be enough data to order a peer cut, which allows for very granular and relevant information to be reported and brings a lot of value to the organisation for making compensation decisions.

Surveys from reputable, international providers, are very safe to participate to. Even though the nature of the data is very confidential, they comply to very stringent confidentiality and data quality assurance criteria. It means your competitors don’t have access to the individual compensation information of your senior leadership, just like you don’t have access to theirs.

I understand that in a region where many don’t always feel comfortable telling the truth to senior management (if it is felt to be not in line with their expectations), there is resistance to participate in executive surveys. And in a region where ethnic stereotypes can have a long shelf-life, there is resistance to participate for certain junior level positions.

There is a lot of sand around us in the GCC, but burying our heads in it does not bring any value and does not help change things. Ignoring facts may sound reassuring at times (“ignorance is bliss”) but eventually it leads to the wong decisions being made for the long term.

Even if senior leaders don’t like, at first, what we tell them, they also do realise that knowledge is power and it allows them to make more informed resolutions based on the recommendations that we, as HR experts, can give them.

Of course it means that HR professionals must go beyond simply stating the results. They must be able to interpret the data, measure it against the company strategy and objectives, and come up with relevant propositions.

Analysing survey results allows you to determine how much you pay compared to the market. If you pay too low, you run the risk of losing your best elements as they will leave for a better package. If you pay too high you may be hindering the competitiveness of your company and reducing its sustainability. This is even more important in professional service firms where people are the only significant cost of running the organisation.

You may also be paying appropriately vs market in general, but that may not where you want or need to be.

In both cases, interpreting the survey results guides your decision on corrective measures needed to bring you at your chosen position.  The dat you find in the survey results will help you design policies and practices that attract and retain the talent that your organisation requires.

Finally, beyond policies and general recommendations, participating to surveys gives the organisation some pertinent data to answer comments, queries and allegations from employees and managers.  Both these populations search the internet where they can find free salary information.

However this data is often not collected in a professional manner (no real job matching, no quality assurance, no way of ensuring the participant is reporting accurate information) and may not be based on statistically significant samples (ie : not enough people have provided information for it to be truly realistic and representative). Having proper salary survey data allows you to re-set expectations appropriately.

So – you should participate to discover how much you really pay compared to market, to gain credibility towards your senior management, to adjust your compensation policies if needed, and to have relevant conversations when your employees cite misleading information on packages in the market.


Please let me know what you think of the Theme of the Month ! Share your thoughts in the comments section 🙂

Related posts :


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. John Nichols says

    Sandrine your article speaks closely to the findings I had when undertaking surveys around the world a few years ago. Participation is vital and understanding the input and interpreting the output necessary.
    By sponsoring a survey you get even more (but not the raw data) as the questions can be phrased to address the problems you need to overcome.
    I would advocate participating in at least two but not many more as you can spend your time on “paralysis by analysis”


  1. […] Leave a Comment 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 […]

  2. […] a Comment 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 […]

  3. […] Comment Welcome to the final instalment in this May series on compensation surveys. After arguing why you should participate in compensation surveys and sharing 4 habits to  simplify your preparation, and then 2 more tips to prepare the salary […]

  4. […] Why you should participate to compensation surveys Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2012 Sandrine BardotSome Rights ReservedOriginal content here is published under these license terms: X License Type:Non-commercial, AttributionLicense Summary:You may copy this content, create derivative work from it, and re-publish it for non-commercial purposes, provided you include an overt attribution to the author(s).License URL:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ Filed Under: Compensation Tagged With: Compensation Benchmarking, Compensation Intelligence, Compensation Surveys […]

  5. Franchise Consulting Firms

    Why you should participate to compensation surveys | Compensation Insider

Speak Your Mind