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Can the Internet Help You Hit the Salary Mark

December 29, 2000
Related Topics: Compensation Design and Communication, Internet, Featured Article
Quick decisions and the right salaryoffer can mean the difference between nabbing the perfect job candidate andlosing out to the competition in today’s tight labor market. Enter theInternet. With its economies of time and scale, it might be just the ticket fortime-strapped HR officials. Now, companies large and small can access salary andsurvey data either from third-party aggregators and consultants or simply bykeeping tabs on the job market via the virtual want ads anytime and almostanywhere. All it takes is an Internet connection.

    Determiningcompetitive salaries typically requires HR officials to analyze reams of data,including salary surveys that fill thick three-ring binders, take up hugespreadsheets, and can cost thousands of dollars. There are hundreds of surveys,with all kinds of price tags. Some of the well-known consultants that offersubscription or for-purchase surveys are William M. Mercer; Radford Surveys, adivision of Aon Consulting Worldwide; Hay Group; Towers Perrin; and Watson WyattData Services. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also has surveys, but thedata isn’t as current.

    Just getting thedata in hand can take up valuable time, as does matching job descriptions withjob openings, extrapolating numbers, and adjusting them for geographicdifferences. For small companies without designated full-time HR staff or thosethat can’t afford sometimes expensive surveys, the whole process can be out ofreach.

    The Web can changeall that. It’s about issues of data richness and reach, says Paul Platten,national practice director Strategic Rewards for Boston-based Watson Wyatt.Strategic Rewards is the name for the company’s salary management andcompensation area. The company currently is beta-testing Reward, a salaryplanning and evaluation tool.

    But the Internet isa new kind of tool, and companies’ use of the technology as well as theavailable options are limited. Today, the Internet is just one more way to getthe same information. How it’s delivered is irrelevant, says H. Michael Boyd,a human resourcing strategies research analyst with Framingham,Massachusetts-based International Data Corporation. For many companies, it’salso too cumbersome to cut through the volumes of survey data on the Web.

    Companies todaystill like to have the paper in hand, agrees Edward W. Straub, New York-basedpresident of Compensation Consulting Group, Aon Consulting Inc., the powerhousethat includes Radford Surveys, online as Radnet is a Web-baseddatabase of compensation data and practices that allows clients who participateand purchase the survey to click on the site, plug in data, and manipulate itfor their needs.

    Acceptance isgrowing, however. Over the last 12 months, as people have become morecomfortable with the Internet, Straub says, he has seen a dramatic increase insalary-and compensation-related Web sites coming online and in companies turningto Web delivery. He predicts an accelerated increase in the next couple of yearsbecause of the speed and cost savings of the Internet. “I also believe that wewill find that hiring managers in general will start using the Web probably moreaggressively than HR ... often as part of negotiating a salary and dealing withrecruiters. Hiring managers would like to have tools they can reach out toquickly and get a ballpark figure on what a job is worth, what the elements of atotal compensation might be.”

    Here are threedifferent-size companies that capitalize on the Web in salary benchmarking. Eachhas its own approach to using the Internet, yet all recognize the time savings,efficiencies, and even drawbacks of the process.

Workforce, January 2001, Vol80, No 1, pp. 86-88  SubscribeNow!

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