how to assess salary survey quality and reliability?

Whenever you buy a salary survey, you buy a vendor specific market benchmark. Outside of the US, the participant lists often consist of large Anglo-American firms with some regional enterprises and local firms participating as well.

In order to satisfy customer needs the surveys need to deliver consistent results year-by-year, requiring the analysts to edit the data until it fits the previous year's median results by +/- x %. Therefore the results are often not representative of real-life local market conditions, esp. in CEE and Emerging Markets.

That's why we recommend to look carefully into the quality and reliability of the pay surveys you intend to use.


salary report evaluation matrix

Definition of Terms

This chart shows an evaluation grid based on accuracy of job matching methodology and market presence of different vendors.


Quality of Job Matching

The data quality of a salary survey is determined mainly by

In this example we take the job matching methodology into consideration.

Market Presence

Global vendors often use the same job matching methodology and data collection process worldwide, making their surveys an attractive choice for globally operating firms to participate in.
Local vendors often use benchmarking approaches tailored to country specific or regional needs and usually attract more domestic participants.

Hence it makes sense to assess the size of the respective database and availability of job specific benchmark data for every country in question since there is no one-size-fits-all.

Labour Agreements as an alternative source for salary comparisons

Pay in some (esp. European) markets is heavily regulated through labour agreements that cover a large employee population. In a market like Germany the strongest salary survey databases contain about 300,000 individual data points, whereas the labour agreements for metal and electronic industries cover more than 3,500,000 employees.

In some cases this data might be the better fit (and it is often accessible at no cost).

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