How to Evaluate Compensation Surveys

by Sue Wolf

Member Matters

“I’m updating my compensation plan and need reliable market survey data. Will I need to purchase a survey to get good data?”

No! You don’t need to purchase an expensive survey to get reputable salary data. As a full MSEC member, you have access to the most reliable source of compensation survey data for the Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming markets.

Some factors an employer should consider when evaluating the quality and reliability of a compensation survey are:

Who is reporting the compensation data?
MSEC collects compensation data from HR professionals or finance professionals in member organizations and not data reported by individuals.
How were the data collected?
MSEC collects salary data via online questionnaire, Excel spreadsheets, paper copy – whatever is most convenient for the participant.
What was the validation process?
MSEC has a three-step validation process to ensure the publication of accurate data for our members.
What data are collected and displayed?
MSEC collects base pay, formal ranges, incentives, and exemption status. All data collected are displayed in the published report.
Job Matches
Does the survey contain job descriptions or simply job titles?
MSEC collects salary data based on job descriptions. Chances are surveys collecting data based solely on job titles will have erroneous job matching – meaning bad data.
What percent of the job description should be matched for a valid match?
MSEC defines that participants can report an employee who spends 70 percent or more of their time in the described function.
Participant Base
How large is the participation and how consistent is it from the previous survey?
MSEC collects data from organizations throughout Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Sixty-five percent of participants in the Benchmark Compensation Surveys contribute data two years in a row.
What type of industries are included?
MSEC collects data across a wide array of industries such as manufacturing, government, non-profit, healthcare, financial, retail/wholesale, ski, etc.
What is the employment size of organizations included?
MSEC collects data from employers of all sizes.
Customized Reports/Extracts
Does the survey publisher offer customized reports of the data?
MSEC publishes data by industry type, employment size and geographic location. These reports are located on Specialized reports are also available.
Lastly, an organization should use a survey that is relevant to their organization (i.e., geographic location, industry, etc.) and use data lines within that survey that are appropriate to their pay strategy (i.e., revenue, employment size, etc.). These demographics may determine what survey you will use.

Contact the MSEC Surveys Department if you have any questions on survey resources available to MSEC members.

About the author
Sue Wolf

Sue Wolf is the Director of Surveys at Employers Council, Inc. Employers Council’s Surveys Department produces over 60 surveys and special reports annually for member organizations. In addition, the department provides employers with information and statistics that are used in the development of HR policies, benefit design, and compensation plans. Sue received her Bachelor’s degree from the College of Business at Michigan State University.