Convince management to pay for salary market data


  • “To convince the CEO and CFO to pay for salary survey data, put the cost into perspective by comparing to a number of other financials from the organisation”.
  • Do you want to participate in salary surveys ? In this episode, learn why survey results have a price so you can explain the value to the CFO/CEO.
  • Learn to be independent from salary survey providers by analysing the results yourself and get better ROI form your participation.
  • If you’re ready to get fresh salary survey data, it’s time to learn to present your request as a business need with return on investment.
  • Watch the video to get the full training or read the transcript below.


The safeguards in salary benchmarking

Should you rely on free compensation data from magazines ?

Why you should participate to compensation surveys

Should we participate to multiple salary surveys ? 


Different ways to put the cost of participating to a salary survey into perspective
Learn to analyse salary survey results and get btter ROI from your participation


Hello and welcome to this episode of Compensation Insider. Today, I would like to discuss about why there is a price to accessing market data in terms of salaries, and also what you can do in order to convince your management to pay for this data.

Why there is a price to get “good” market data

Generally speaking, data is not free, right ? There are some good reasons for that.

There is a large amount of work that has to come into the design phase of a salary survey, and knowing what you want to look at :Do you include, for example, policies?

  • Do you only look at direct compensation?
  • Do you also look into long-term incentives?
  • Do you look into benefits?
  • Do you look into actual bonus payout or only target bonus payout and so on?

So, the whole design takes a while.

The data collection obviously does take a lot of time as well. Will the provider organize data collection using a specific software or via Excel. How will they make sure that people are submitting their information on time etc ?

Then you have, of course, situations around quality assurance, ensuring that the data that is received makes sense, for example :

  • That the bonuses of people who joined during the year have been annualised to be properly compared to those of employees who were there for a longer period of time in the organization.
  • How do they make sure that you have data which is all coming from the same date ?
  • That they don’t have people who made mistakes in terms of currencies etc ?

Then obviously they need to produce and analyze the data and produce the report and communicate about it. Will you produce like an overall presentation for the general participants ? Do they create a report for each participating organization which excludes their own data and only shows the rest of the market ?

So, of course, gathering data, transforming it into actionable value, and adding information has a price.

Building your case for buying the data

Meanwhile, you have CFOs that are saying, “Oh, can’t you just call somebody and you will know what the market price is?”

I mean, I’ve faced that personally a number of times, even when I was in very senior positions and nobody would even think to question why they would have to pay for marketing data when launching a new product and so on.

But when it comes to Comp & Ben, sometimes management struggles to pay even $5,000. That’s about 20,000 UAE Dirhams for the survey, for a survey which will give you information for all employees in the country.

What are their fears when spending that small amount of money? I won’t go into what it means in terms of how the CFO/CEO values the work we do in HR, and the necessity to access data to guide decisions, even about people.

To create the business case and help you get the budget from the CFO and the CEO for paying for this data that you know that you need, I recommend you put the price into perspective and calculate the cost of that survey compared to a number of things :

  • As a cost compared as a percentage of payroll costs,
  • A cost compared to the annual average salary of your employees,
  • A cost per employee. So let’s say 20,000 dirhams and you have 20,000 employees, that’s one dirham per employee to get the data.
  • You could also look at the cost of employee turnover or the number of days of work that are lost to an increase in, for example, sick leave because your employees are not motivated because it’s been a while that you haven’t revised your salary ranges and done salary increases, and people are starting to be impacted from a motivation and productivity standpoint.

So, when top management is saying to you that they don’t have money to pay, just put that amount in perspective.

Develop your autonomy using the raw data from the providers

It’s also really important that you develop the skills to be able to use that data by yourself. The big survey providers do a good job of collecting the information, but they charge an awful lot of money to produce a salary structure for you, which often is going to be mostly based on very standard information like median of the market with plus or minus, let’s say 10, 15, 20% depending on what you want to do for your company. Those numbers are really not difficult for them to produce in their “data farms” in East Europe or India, and there is nothing really special about what they’re doing to produce that salary structure for you, but they do charge a lot of money for it.

So learn how to get that data, analyze it for yourself, and be able to identify who are the outliers. Why they are outliers?

  • Is it because of a specific reason?
  • Is it because the data is maybe less reliable based on the number of incumbents, the number of companies that have submitted data for a specific position, whether the data seems right to you or not.
  • Make sure that you have properly positioned your own employees in the right grade, so that you can compare to the right pay level.

Learn to do that and do your own analysis of the information. You can also learn different methods of setting the midpoint for your salary ranges, and now you have a salary structure that is fully unique to your organization, not a copy/paste of what your competitors who participate in the survey might have.

You will only have to financially pay for the salary survey, and you’ll still be able to produce a lot of value for your organization.

Learn to present your needs as a business need with return on investment, maybe grow the skills to use the raw data by yourself, and then when you present that 20,000 Dirhams as a percentage of annual payroll, who in their right mind would refuse to pay it for your company?

I hope you will find this little tip useful for you and good luck for participating in the surveys and analyzing those results ! I am also available to help you if you want :-).

Thank you so much and see you next week in Compensation Insider.

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