Benefits and Compensation

Where to Get Pay Survey Data

Pay surveys are an important tool for developing and maintaining pay plans that fairly reward employees without breaking the bank. But where should the information come from? Should it be gathered by someone in-house? Or paid for from a consultant? What are the options?

Where to Get Pay Survey Data

"Pay surveys are the source of pay data for building pay structures." consultant David Wudyka told us in a recent BLR webinar. They are the foundation for many pay decisions, and as such, it's important to get quality data. But where?

Wudyka cautioned that pay surveys should not be conducted in-house because there is a danger of being accused of anti-trust violations for having been involved in what may appear to be a complicit or cooperative process. In other words, it may be suspected that the company is gathering information that could be used to set rates in the marketplace. While this doesn't usually happen, it's easy to see how it might look suspicious from the outside. This is the inherent danger in the attempt to conduct pay surveys on your own. Дам деньги в долг Липецк Елец.

To avoid this concern, most employers either rely on a third-party to conduct the survey or they purchase ready-made "off the shelf" versions instead.

If you use a third party, typically this will be a consultant or an employer's association. They conduct the survey with the parameters that make the most sense for your comparison and keep the participants confidential.

An "off the shelf" survey is similar, but it may be prepared for the whole market. "Again, these surveys are typically prepared by a consulting firm; they could also have been prepared by an employer's association. You can purchase the surveys without actually having been a participant in the survey. These are various ways you can acquire the data." Wudyka told us.

Some other sources of pay survey data include industry associations, HR associations, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Either way, the survey should be built only from quality pay survey data. And the best surveys and done within a geographic area by industry. Unfortunately, these ideal surveys don't always exist, depending on your location or industry. In these instances, employers may have to settle for the next-best solution, which might be a regional survey, for example, instead of one based in your city.

For the data to be most useful, employers need to match up jobs based on the requirements within that job classification. And if you ever participate in a pay survey, keep this fact in mind—since it will affect the usefulness of the survey for everyone.

"Use confidently-matched job pay data for benchmark jobs. Make sure that you do a good job of this when you're submitting data to a survey. Make sure that you're matching the intention of the job in the survey—for your sake and all of the sakes of participants in the survey itself. You want to make sure that you're submitting data that really reflects the intended job classification. And therefore, the standard deviation (to use a statistical term here for a moment), will be narrow if all of the employers have done a great job of doing this. Submitting data for well-matched jobs means that the pay survey data that is produced will be more narrow than broad, and we are more confident in job pay data that has a low standard deviation." Wudyka explained.

For more information on acquiring pay survey data, order the webinar recording of "Pay Surveys: How to Price Jobs in the External Marketplace to Best Determine True Worth." To register for a future webinar, visit

David Wudyka, managing principal and founder of Westminster Associates, manages and oversees all company operations, including the design, development, and implementation of all client HR programs. His specialties include human resource analytics, audits of HR operations, employee retention strategies, and group incentive plans.