How to Conduct a Salary Survey

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Every business that wants to stay competitive in its industry should conduct regular salary surveys. A salary survey is a review of the average salaries and benefits paid to employees in your industry sector and region. Your company can adjust compensation packages to new employees upward or downward based on the results of a salary survey. To conduct a salary survey, your human resources (HR) staff should develop an effective methodology that will yield accurate salary information.

Produce a Comprehensive Salary Survey

Limit the number of job descriptions covered in your salary survey to handle high-demand positions. Speak with department heads to figure out hiring needs in the next year before the survey. For example, a private college should address information technology positions ahead of faculty positions due to higher turnover.

Write a survey questionnaire that will be distributed to temp agencies and local businesses familiar with your industry. Your survey should request information on job responsibilities, education levels and salary ranges for each position.

Generate a list of temp agencies, businesses and industry groups within your region to participate in your salary survey. Your list should contain fax and phone numbers as well as an email address for each company's HR contact.

Assign sales and HR staff to conduct initial interviews with contacts on your call list. Each interview should request information on the company's size, scope of operations, location and availability to handle the written questionnaire. The goal of these interviews is to find businesses of comparable size to create a level playing field for your survey.

Edit your salary survey questionnaire before creating a Portable Document Format (PDF) for delivery to survey participants. A draft of the questionnaire should be sent to technical writers, advertising and others outside of your survey working group. In addition to grammatical and spelling errors, your editors should look for questions that are redundant or poorly worded.

Run through your list of survey participants after receiving questionnaires to ask followup questions. Your followups will largely focus on clearing up job responsibilities cited by participants to ensure symmetry between your positions and their positions.

Calculate salary averages from your collected questionnaires as you prepare your survey report. Your salary survey should break down numbers into median and mean averages along with annual salaries from each survey participant.

Compile job description, education and other information into individual capsules as the second part of your salary survey. Start your review of individual capsules with an overview of each position covered in the survey as well as pertinent information on these positions in your business.

Deliver your salary survey to company executives and department heads to determine if action should be taken. Your company's budget for the next year will need to be adjusted to reflect higher or lower salaries and benefits. If your salary survey is actionable, you will need to adjust job offer forms and ongoing recruitment materials to reflect these changes.

Tips

  • Establish a firm timetable for delivery of your salary questionnaires from survey participants. Your salary survey should be completed before the end of the fiscal year or before a large recruitment drive where accurate salaries are necessary. This timetable must reflect the number of questions and positions addressed by the participants.

Warnings

  • Create a salary survey every year to save money on salaries, insurance and other compensation. Some businesses conduct their surveys every two to five years without considering the money lost to overpaying entry- and mid-level professionals.