Maybe you’ve heard of compensation benchmarking, but you really don’t understand what it is or why it’s important to an organization. I promise you are not alone! I often talk with executives before starting a compensation project who think they need it, but aren’t entirely clear on the initiative and how it can make an impact on attracting and retaining top talent. I hope this post will help you get a big picture overview of what it is, why organizations need it, and the implementation involved.
What is compensation benchmarking?
Compensation benchmarking is the process of using internal job descriptions to match to established salary survey jobs in order to identify the external market rate for each benchmark position.
Why is compensation benchmarking important as a “best practice”?
Establishing market rates for core positions within an organization is important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it guides decision making for pay decisions including hiring, promotions, internal equity salary adjustments, and general compensation budget planning. Because labor costs are the largest cost to any organization, a solid understanding of the external value of each position allows an organization to develop an approach for setting overall compensation philosophy, or the level at which the organization will set salary levels. The ability to balance the needs to attracting and retaining talent with fiscal responsibility of the organization is a key priority for Executives. Compensation benchmarking provides the information leaders need to define the costs associated with salaries and other compensation components such as profit sharing or bonuses.
How to do compensation benchmarking:
It is very important to use a reputable salary survey to complete compensation benchmarking so that the matches made to the market are as accurate as possible. In addition, reputable salary survey companies employ compensation analytical professionals trained to compile, analyze, and publish data in a confidential and robust manner, ensuring a true representation of pay levels in the market. Also, regulatory guidelines such as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act set forth requirements for the way in which salary information is collected and shared, in an effort to ensure price fixing of salary levels is not occurring. In order to complete a compensation benchmarking project, current job descriptions and identified salary surveys which include similar jobs in comparable industries and similar size companies are essential.
Utilizing internal resources versus hiring a third party consultant:
Compensation benchmarking can be done internally by HR professionals working with managers to ensure accurate job description content or third-party specialists can provide compensation benchmarking services to ensure all positions documented and benchmarked with the external market accurately. Here are some other details to consider when implementing this project internally versus working with a third party consultant including the cost differences. However you accomplish the goal of compensation benchmarking, doing so will provide you with important information to help drive the goals of your organization and ensure market competitive and fair pay practices.