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Article | Beyond Data

4 steps to successful salary survey participation

By Hatti Johansson | December 2022

Simplifying your salary survey participation helps you work smarter and faster. Ultimately that delivers the most credible data.
Beyond Data

It’s no secret: Participating in salary and HR surveys is challenging. From gathering the data you need (some of which may come from other departments) to ensuring your job matches are accurate, survey participation requires thoughtfulness, patience and time.

Based on years of working with clients to guide them through salary and HR survey participation, we have identified four steps that will lead you to a successful participation while minimizing your time and effort. By following these steps, you will ensure an accurate and complete survey submission, and that only serves to provide you with the most credible pay data you need to make sound pay decisions.

  1. 01

    Ensure proper job matching the first time

    Job matching can be time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort if you consider the benefits of accurately understanding your market competitiveness. To achieve proper job matching:

    • Match your jobs based on the content and level
    • Use organizational charts and up-to-date job descriptions as available
    • Don’t match on base salary
    • Don’t match on title
    • Look at new or emerging jobs as well as changes in jobs
    • Review all definitions and changes before starting
    • If you determine that 80% or more of the job content is similar, the match can be considered a quality match
    • Review survey methodology to ensure consistent alignment

    For more details, refer to the Guide to Job Matching available in the WTW Data Services Participation Portal.

  2. 02

    Submit robust and complete data

    The reliability of your organization’s data is critical to making informed pay decisions. It’s important to vet your data before you submit to limit follow-up inquiries and verifications that will take more of your time later.

    Create a clear process and timeline for completing your salary survey submission:
    • Ensure you compile the incumbent compensation data (including salary, bonus, incentives and so on) and organization data (including revenue, number of employees and industry) for all selected benchmarks and talent markets
    • Complete all requested information
    • Take time to review the data-element definitions in detail, before you compile your salary survey submission
    Avoid these common mistakes when completing your submission:
    • Don’t leave blank fields or submit incomplete data
    • Be sure to provide missing base salary or job matching information
    • Ensure any part-time salaries and other compensation elements are converted to full-time equivalent
    • Fix incomplete revenue, geographic or other scope data
    • Correct inaccurate annual incentive or long-term incentive grant data
    • Complete all parts of the survey including HR and employee benefits policy and practice questionnaires
    • Identify who’s best placed within your organization to complete policy and practice questionnaires and delegate this responsibility to them

    While we encourage reporting complete data, there is some information we strongly advise against submitting:

    Do report:
    • Individual lines of data
    • All possible jobs
    • Internal job grades and titles
    • All required fields/elements
    Do not report
    • Personal data, personal ID numbers, employee names or initials
    • Average data
    • Contract and temporary staff not paid on the same terms as permanent, full-time staff

    For more details, refer to the Guide to Data Submission or access the Help Center on the WTW Data Services Participation Portal. The Help Center provides FAQs for the submission process, training videos and a comprehensive user guide to walk you through the features of the Online Editor used for data submission.

  3. 03

    Leverage available tools and plan for a stress-free process

    WTW offers a variety of tools to make your salary and HR survey submission easier and more convenient. Our online participation portal allows you to download pre-populated workbooks of submitted data from previous years, enabling a more seamless update of your data. The portal also automatically checks the completeness of your submission, presenting initial queries online in near real-time, and that lessens the burden of tedious review later.

    You can also leverage the online Survey Catalog for quick results, eliminating time spent on the grueling process of reviewing roles and job descriptions. You also can take advantage of automated job matching for job-match recommendations. And, with seamless data import integrated into the portal, it is easier than ever to collaborate and make edits directly and securely.

    Ensuring a smooth submission process also means planning to meet critical deadlines. We strongly recommend reviewing participation materials ahead of time so that you have plenty of time to identify data sources outside of your department (i.e., from your finance department including revenues, assets, long-term incentives, accounting values) and coordinate data submission with other colleagues who may be responsible for data outside of your remit (e.g., pay and performance, executive, other regions, other divisions).

  4. 04

    Ensure you partner with the right survey provider

    Close collaboration with your survey partner is perhaps one of the most critical but overlooked aspects of successful survey participation. Whether you’re engaging with a provider for the first time, thinking of switching from your current provider or even renewing with your existing partner, it’s important to weigh your options and needs.

    The salary survey provider you choose should support you through the full submission process, whether that means helping you submit your salary data, matching your jobs or validating your data. And, once participation is complete and results are released, you want a partner who understand how your data compared to the market and can offer advice on the actions you need to consider.

    When reviewing your options, consider:

    • Does your partner help you meet critical deadlines, share participation materials and continue to connect with you after the portal closes?
    • Will they ensure you understand the value you’re getting for your spend when it’s time to get your results? Perhaps more importantly, will they understand exactly what you need so you don’t spend more than you need to?
    • Does your partner take the time to understand your organization’s challenges, whether tied to attraction, retention or the overall employee experience?

Successful salary survey participation is within reach. By leveraging the knowledge and innovative tools available to you in preparing your data and avoiding the common submission pitfalls, you can maximize your investment in salary survey data and ensure you’re not paying your employees too much — or too little.


Global Innovation and Product Development Leader, Rewards Data Intelligence

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