Leveraging General Industry and Industry-Specific Salary Surveys
A Path Toward More Successful Employee Attraction and Retention Strategies
For many HR professionals, creating truly successful compensation programs means relying on market data from multiple sources. A skilled compensation professional will then use one of these data sets as their “primary” source of competitive intelligence, while the other set of data will serve as their “secondary” source. Having this secondary source to refer to at any point during the creation of employee attraction and retention strategies provides validation of labor market practices and trends and precision in determining competitive market rates. From a workforce management perspective, this sharpens the overall compensation planning process.
In addition to this, there are even more ways to leverage deeper competitive intelligence from multiple salary surveys, such as using different types of salary surveys. This technique enables HR professionals to combine data found in “industry-specific” salary surveys with data found in “general industry” salary surveys, to address even the most specific needs. In turn, HR professionals can create employee attraction and retention strategies that successfully benchmark the majority of their organizational jobs, ensuring optimal effectiveness and accuracy in creating competitive pay practices. However, before any of this can be done, the distinction between “industry-specific” survey data and “general industry” survey data must be made clear.
HR Comparison: General Industry Salary Surveys and Industry-Specific Salary Surveys
General industry salary surveys provide data on positions found across a wide variety of industries, meaning the employees working these types of jobs usually won’t be exclusively tied to just one sector of work. Examples of this include human resources and accounting positions. To better accommodate these widespread jobs that transcend industry-related barriers, many survey data providers have created general industry databases with benchmark job descriptions. HR professionals can rely on these benchmarked positions to quickly extract data on the most relevant positions throughout the workforce. While this has its obvious benefits, it also comes with limitations. For example, the fact that many of today’s top organizations have positions that are specific to their industry and are therefore not found in general industry databases. This makes the process of creating truly robust workforce management strategies using only general industry data quite difficult.
When HR professionals do need survey data on specialized jobs, or market data on positions that are not found in every organization, they can turn to industry-specific salary surveys. This spectrum of survey data reports on positions that are usually only found within an individual industry, such as doctors (healthcare), engineering technologists (energy), bank tellers (financial services), and so on. Industry-specific salary surveys are also better equipped to market price jobs in less common industries where data is hard to come by, as well as in labor markets where there simply aren’t many competitors. The oil field services industry is an example of one of these labor markets as it contains countless local players, yet only a handful of major competitors. Emerging jobs also tend to have a general lack of competitive intelligence that only industry-specific salary surveys can account for.
Combining General Industry and Industry-Specific Salary Surveys
In order to create the most comprehensive employee retention and attraction strategies possible, an ever-growing number of HR professionals are leveraging industry-specific survey data to complement their general industry-based survey data. In the majority of these cases, the general industry data is used to uncover competitive intelligence for jobs found within most organizations (such as accounting and marketing) while the industry-specific data provides deeper insight into their unique industries, such as energy, mining, healthcare, etc. While being widely beneficial for a number of workforce management applications, this strategy is most useful when implementing long-term salary planning and budgeting for all of an organization’s employees.
This thorough approach empowers HR professionals to focus in on job functions, departments, or jobs at large with their general industry data and then strategically hone in to find more detailed market intelligence with complementary industry-specific data. Still, even with this comprehensive dual survey methodology, HR professionals must be careful to determine the exact level of compensation resources they’ll need to fully accomplish their goals in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Fortunately, Mercer provides a number of workforce management solutions that can help streamline this process:
- With data on over 1,500+ positions, Mercer’s US MBD: Mercer Benchmark Database is a premier general industry database that covers the major functions of every participating organization. Based on their unique needs, HR professionals can use this general industry data in combination with any number of industry-specific surveys to obtain a clear picture of salary benchmarks for the majority of their positions. This product data can also be analyzed in a multitude of ways, making it widely adaptable to different structures.
- Mercer supplies creditable data using a rigorous set of specialized processes for auditing and evaluating data as well as working with clients to ensure they receive the right data for the right jobs.
- Mercer WIN® is the foundation for delivering information and simple analysis for Mercer market data. Complimentary with the purchase of a Mercer market view, Mercer WIN provides access to Mercer data through a variety of parameters — including geography, industry, company size, and more — to more efficiently organize and analyze information. Mercer WIN makes it easy to combine jobs and levels to better represent an organization, which is especially useful in pricing hybrid roles that have become more common as organizations change and adapt their workforces to changes in the business environment. Mercer WIN not only makes information easily accessible, but also readily convertible into specific charts, graphs, and reports.
While there will always be certain obstacles to overcome when managing multiple salary surveys to create competitive compensation plans, astute HR professionals are reaping the rewards of this insightful methodology. For true competitive intelligence that defies industry limitations, the multiple survey approach can provide the perfect answer, especially when using industry-specific and general industry survey data in combination. To get started, select your industry to view available industry-specific surveys or access the Mercer Benchmark Database for general industry data.