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With the number of salary surveys available today, plus all the various scope cuts available within the surveys, it can be overwhelming to know what to use. The importance of selecting surveys and documenting the data cuts and blending method used in order to ensure consistency, accuracy, and efficiency cannot be understated. But, just understanding when and how to use general versus industry-specific data is something that deserves additional discussion.
In a general industry survey, such as the Canada MBD: Mercer Benchmark Database, you have the option to refine your dataset by selecting from a set of industries (e.g., High Tech, Consumer Goods, Life Sciences). In the case of MBD, when you do that, you are taking the full dataset, which includes over 1,100 organizations, and reducing it down to just those organizations that fit into those industry categories. This data subset, in many surveys, can then be narrowed further to reflect only the size and/or location of companies that are relevant to your organization or the particular jobs you are market pricing.
When using refined data cuts from general industry surveys, you need to consider how you use them, being cautious not to combine data cuts from the same survey, which would, in effect, be double counting the same data. For example, if you choose to use the "All Data" cut and the "Industry: Finance" cut for market pricing the same jobs, you are including the responses from any company that is in the Finance industry cut twice, because they are also included when you do not refine the data and use the "All Data" cut. Typically, when using more than one data scope cut from the same survey you are using them with different jobs or employee segments.
In an industry-specific survey, such as the Canada Retail Compensation and Benefits Survey, the dataset already includes only those that identify within the particular industry. Oftentimes, the overall participant set is smaller than in general industry surveys, but the benefits are numerous:
When using industry-specific surveys, you are typically applying those data to specific employee segments or jobs within your organization — those that require industry experience. If you choose to blend industry survey data with a cut from a general industry survey, you'd typically also be utilizing the data refined by industry scope with the goal of diversifying your data sources.1
Mercer 2021 surveys include the largest dataset ever collected giving you the most accurate picture of today’s market.
1 Best practice is to attempt to collect at least three data points for each job when market pricing.