The real value in numbers – Putting salary surveys in perspective

There is a real value in performing a salary survey. With the current candidate shortage, it is doubly important that you make sure any salary offer you are making is, at the minimum, at a level where it will attract candidates to investigate the role further. So, with that in mind, we thought it would be worth a quick look at salary surveys and the importance of doing them right. 


To be clear from the start, we think a salary survey is a good idea. Regardless of any other value they bring, they reveal where you are positioning your remuneration in relation to the overall market. If nothing else, they should offer the comfort of knowing you are ‘in the ballpark’, as it were. However, there is a danger in them. They need to be done right, and that means in context with a range of contributing factors. When we perform a salary survey for a client, they are often surprised by the depth of information we ask for. If the survey is to be accurate, though, it needs to be more than a simple ‘X job is worth Y amount of money’ response. 


Some of the other factors that need to be taken into consideration include:


  • Current market conditions.

Without an anchor in the prevailing conditions, a salary review can be out of date within a very short space of time. Right now, salaries are rising at a rapid rate, and the amount they are increasing is variable depending on the industry and/or sector. This is compounded in some jobs by a skill shortage in specific roles. That means an element of forecasting from current data. 


  • Duties and responsibilities.

These are not always the same based on the role. Where one job may be strictly built around the skills required, another may also have an element of additional responsibility. Larger organisations tend to be more rigid in the work required, whereas small companies often need a degree of flexibility. These differences can impact on the competitive nature of the offer. 


  • Location and convenience.

The obvious factor here is the tradition of London weighting for salaries, but there can be other influences rooted in the location of the role. Geographical shortages of candidates (or the opposite) and ease of commuting, private parking spaces and so on all make a difference. 


  • Benefits, holidays, and bonus opportunities.

Extra holiday, health cover with additions such as dental and optical and company bonus offerings are a real motivator for candidates. 


  • Timing matters

When you do the salary survey can affect the outcome in several ways. It’s not always practical to do a review of your offer when the market is stable, as we mentioned earlier. There can also be times in the year that are particularly important when recruiting for some roles. 


There is that old saying that money isn’t everything, and when it comes to a salary review, that is ironically very true. Although ostensibly they are about how much to offer in remuneration, they are more than that. A good review is more comprehensive than a simple comparison and will take the factors above (and many others) into account when positioning your offer in relation to the overall trend. 

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