How to get access to compensation data

How to get access to compensation data

“I am looking for compensation data for Real Estate Industry in the ME. Can you help me with the same?”

That’s what Ishita, one of my readers, wanted to know recently.

That’s an interesting question.

I once had a similar request regarding Retail surveys for the EMEA region. Getting access to reliable compensation data is the basis of our work in Compensation & Benefits, and it’s a challenge that we face in all industries and most countries except the very large ones such as US or India where many companies participate in surveys.

Here is the answer I gave Ishita.

Getting access to compensation data through the small Rewards consultancy

As a small Rewards consultant, I don’t perform compensation surveys. These require a lot of resources, which are not available to my firm : finding participants, designing the survey, collecting the data, performing quality checks, producing the reports and distributing the results – it means you need a good-sized team focused just on that activity. So, not an exercise for the small, independent Rewards consultant !

I also don’t share compensation data from survey results that I may have had access to through my work with other clients, as this would be a breach of intellectual property. I explained that in more detail in a recent post on the boundaries of small Reward consultancies if you are interested. 

For me to work on salary data, it means the client must procure the information either by buying survey results or by participating in relevant salary surveys. So, even if I did have the data, I wouldn’t be in a position to share it.

Getting access to free compensation data

Now, as a general comment I want to highlight that getting compensation data relevant to the Middle East for free is not going to be easy, or may even be relatively unreliable.

Here is what I can suggest :

First, two comments to help you narrow down your search :

Once you have a more narrow definition of your need, a Google search may reveal some relevant results for you.

For example, business magazines and recruitment agencies specialised in your target industry (or not) may have some free reports for you to download, such as or

These may work, depending whether you need detailed info or are more interested in getting access to general compensation data, and how much degree of confidence you need to have in the methodology used to produce the results.

As I highlighted in a post that explains in more detail if and when to rely on free compensation information from recruitment organisations and business publications :

  • If the info you need is high level to prepare some rough budget estimates for a new business, these free reports may be enough.
  • If you are looking to prepare a salary review budget, update a company’s salary ranges, or prepare counter-offers for some top talent who are about to resign from the company, these free reports may not be relevant or detailed enough.

Getting access to paid compensation data

If detailed, job and job and statistically proven information is what you need, a simple Google search is not enough and you may have to go for the paying options.

For example :

  1. Go to and search for the jobs you’re interested in, for the countries you’re interested in.
  2. The GCC is also host to the website, which covers multiple data points on elements related to, well, cost of living, as well as salary information for about 200 roles. This could work if you are looking for a general update of existing ranges or allowances, or if you want to create some broad cost simulations as you’re setting up in a new country. 
  3. Contact Hay, Mercer,Towers Watson or Aon and see if you can buy an industry report or a peer cut report for the countries you’re interested in.
  4. You may also find some survey providers that are focused on specific verticals, such as McLagan for anything related to the Financial Services industry, IPAS from IBM-Kenexa for high tech, Radford for tech, sales and life sciences…

These reports, if they exist for your country of choice, will be more expensive, but they will also include tons of highly usable data. Well worth the investment !

Note to my readers : if you happen to know of a reliable source of Real Estate salary info in the Middle East, please share it with us in the comments !

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  1. Sandrine,

    I sort of agree with you but then again don’t!

    The small specialist consultancy can be far more reactive to odd ball requests and work on a far more tailored and targeted approach to, for example:
    – Agree the specification
    – define any jobs to be benchmarked
    – choose a list of specific comparators and locations
    – design a questionnaire to capture relevant data
    – meet each target participant for correct job leveling
    – report in a usable fashion
    – include suitable commentary and recommendations

    But it comes at an upfront cost! And, unfortunately, many companies are not prepared to pay for a bespoke service.

    • My point exactly John :-). The other consideration is the actual capacity in terms of workload, for an independent rewards consultancy like mine which has less than 5 staff, to actually deliver the work. In the GCC at least (I don’t know about your region), getting in touch with companies and then getting them to commit to participate is a massive challenge. One day maybe I’ll cover in a post why that is.
      Anyway, once you get companies to commit to participate, many don’t have the internal resources in order to participate by performing the job matching and formatting their data the way it is requested in the survey. As a result, you may just receive an Excel file with a payroll extract and the survey provider ends up having to do the “submission” work for a number of the participating companies.
      And that’s something that a small, independent consultancy like mine cannot afford – or if we did, we would turn it into a regular product/service offered by our organisation… and we would advertise it on our website 🙂

      • As a practitioner I recognise the processes and constraints all too well. Perhaps the opportunity will most likely arise within a broader HR/Reward project.

  2. Muhammad Usman says

    Thank you for bringing this up. I always educate my clients on this before embarking on the consultancy assignment. In cases where they don’t have the financial resources to buy the data, I have to rely upon the free data sources you mentioned above and with the combination of formula based approach I come up with the generic salary ranges. This has worked for many clients as the first step to establish some sort of structure for pay decisions. However, if the client wants to pinpoint specific issues with the salaries then I recommend them to buy the meat before we can make the dish from it.

    • That’s a great approach Usman ! Though I’m always worried when a client says they can’t afford 3 to 5k $ to know how to pay all employees within a country…. which, compared to any mid-size organisation payroll cost, is going to be peanuts.

  3. Peergrowth says

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