Developing a Compensation Plan, Step 3: Select Data Sources

This is a lesson from PayScale’s Modern Compensation Planning ecourse. Want access to all seven lessons? Sign up for the course!

Now that you’ve spent some time thinking about the different parts of your workforce and where you compete for talent in each segment, you can apply that strategy when seeking out your data sources.

Select Compensation Market Data Sources

Since there are a variety of compensation data sources available to you, it’s crucial that you choose wisely. The two key things to consider when selecting your market data sources are:

  • Are they current, accurate and validated?
  • Do they cover the data needs of your jobs and organization, such as the breadth of your jobs, geographies and industries?

The types of sources are varied and vast. Keep the above questions in mind as you explore:

  • Third-party traditional surveys. These come from survey companies, the government, industry associations or consulting firms and typically offer a broad swath of data. Third-party surveys can take up to a year to publish, so you will need to age the data and bring it current.
  • Crowdsourced data. There are online resources that offer crowdsourced salary data from employees. These sources can be up-to-date, easy-to-use options for comparison. Just a quick word of caution: Not all online salary data sets are created equal. Be sure you understand how well the data are validated before being made available.
  • Custom surveys. If you’re struggling to find coverage for your organization’s unique jobs, you can contract with a third-party to do a custom survey. These types of surveys are often very accurate, but very expensive.

Match to Find Your Job in Your Data Source

The definition of a benchmark job is that it is a job that regularly exists in the market (to compare your jobs with the market, those jobs need to exist in the market). Here’s a helpful checklist of things that matter when comparing your job to the data source:

  • What is the essence of the job (not just the title)?
  • What level is the job (entry, professional, manager, director … )?
  • What are the top three job responsibilities?
  • What top three special skills are needed for the job?
  • Does this job have supervisory responsibilities?
  • What experience is necessary to do this role?

You may have some positions that you can’t find in your data source. Don’t force matches where they don’t exist; having no data is better than using bad data. You can decide how to pay for the job by aligning the pay to a similar job inside your organization.

Next Steps

Start scouting around for your compensation data sources. Talk with data providers to get quotes. Ask them about their validation process and the depth and breadth of their data coverage. If you have critical roles to fill, talk with a data provider that has data that move more quickly. In the next lesson, we’ll start to put the market data points into action.


Webinar Recording: How to Elevate Your Talent Analysis with Multiple Data Sources

Blog: Is Your Compensation Plan Competitive Enough to Retain Top Talent?

Want all seven Modern Compensation Planning lessons delivered right to your inbox? Sign up today!

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your biggest challenge in developing a compensation plan? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments.

Image: Pixabay

Check out these related posts