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The Importance of Salary Survey Data - Archbright

Figuring out appropriate pay for employees can mean the difference between life and death for businesses. Whether it be for long-term or short-term planning, compensation data is invaluable in helping HR identify market-level pay rates, budget, and guide the recruitment and retention of top talent.

During times of uncertainty, an organization must be more mindful about planning and managing expenses related to total rewards practices. Incorporating compensation data from salary surveys into a regular review of an organization’s pay helps to minimize underpaying employees and as well as turnover and retention challenges. Additionally, useful compensation data can help to minimize overpaying, which results in a weaker financial state.

Local Data is Better Data

It’s important to note that quality, local data is crucial when developing relevant programs that support pay practices that are conducive to Pacific Northwest pay levels and its competitive landscape. In general, pay in the Northwest, particularly in the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan areas as well as the Portland metro area, is higher than the national average. Additionally, it’s more common in the Northwest to offer sign-on bonuses and equity programs as part of compensation packages.

In many other parts of the country, these higher levels of compensation and additional pay practices are not generally observed or practiced due to the various factors related to the industry, cost of living, and, most importantly, supply and demand of specific jobs. These examples illustrate that while broad, national-level survey data can be helpful, the nuances and local market trends that are typical among northwest companies, won’t be included in the data of national-level surveys.

Additional Survey Data Considerations and Practices

While having one data source is better than none, having multiple is the best practice. When conducting compensation studies, this ensures the capture of a holistic picture of the target market(s). Also, there would be higher confidence levels in the total rewards programs that utilize this data.

Additionally, updating compensation data on an annual basis is highly recommended as it allows human resources and business managers to stay on top of the rapidly changing and evolving marketplace for talent. Being proactive and updating pay practices with current salary survey data can prove to be a significant cost-cutting practice. It dramatically reduces the opportunity costs associated with being reactive and dealing with the costs of turnover, exorbitant last-minute retention offers, and lost production associated with employee dissatisfaction and disengagement.

COVID-19’s Impact on Compensation Data

Compensation data is still relevant despite the rise in unemployment and other factors, such as the inability of many organizations to afford to pay their workforce. Although there is uncertainty for the future of the economy and business finances, compensation data is mostly unaffected for the remainder of the year.

An exception to this is essential workers, such as grocery store clerks and workers, production workers, delivery drivers, and healthcare workers, who have reportedly received increases in compensation, such as hazard pay.

Because it takes a few months for any gradual changes in compensation at the macro level to be evident, we likely won’t see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic until the next year or next survey cycle(s). After that, add on a few more months for surveying companies to collect, scrub, and report on the data.

Archbright’s Survey Data

We are proud to offer one of the largest and most comprehensive pay surveys for the Pacific Northwest. This year over 700 organizations participated across Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Collected data represent various industries and sectors, including non-profit, manufacturing, social services, professional services, technology, and healthcare.

This comprehensive benchmark of wage, salaries, and bonus data includes non-exempt, exempt, and executive-level positions. With the ever-changing legal, political, and economic landscape in the Northwest, our data is an invaluable asset for your compensation planning.

The 2020 Regional Pay Survey Reports are now available for purchase:

  • The Wage Report contains exempt and non-exempt pay data from for-profit and non-profit organizations.
  • The Non-Profit Report contains pay data collected from non-profit organizations.
  • The Executive Comp Report contains executive compensation data for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.

Access the 2020 Regional Pay Survey Methodology and Demographics Report for more information about this year’s survey participants. If you have any questions about the survey, please reach out to Our team is ready to help.

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Joe Padilla