The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How Competitive Are Your Salaries in Today’s Market?

Market-based pay is a staple of the corporate world to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, and many higher ed institutions are moving in this direction as well. It’s especially valuable when you’re hiring locally or regionally. If you’re wondering how to get started with a market-based compensation strategy, here are a few things to consider:

1) Job Descriptions. Having complete and current job descriptions is critical to successfully comparing your institution’s positions with similar positions in the market. Before you choose a source for market data, take the time to evaluate current descriptions and work with managers to update them as needed.

2) Benchmarking. Making the right comparisons — using position-specific data and carefully selected peers — can make all the difference when planning salaries that will make your institution competitive in the labor market. Different benchmarking strategies will be required for different employee groups — administrators, staff and faculty (and even different types of faculty).

3) Compa-Ratios. How competitive are your institution’s salaries? How equitable is pay among your workforce? One quick way to identify potential trouble spots is with comparison ratios, or compa-ratios for short. Simply stated, a compa-ratio compares an individual employee’s salary to the midpoint of a given salary range. But you don’t need a pay range as a basis for comparison to benefit from compa-ratios — you could also compare your employees’ salaries to appropriate benchmarks from market data. Comparing the salary of your chief compliance officer, for example, to the median salary for institutions with the same classification or affiliation can help you determine how your institution’s pay compares to your peers.

Moving to a market-based compensation strategy is a significant undertaking, and the key to making it work — particularly in more competitive markets — is choosing a salary data source that provides reliable data that aligns with the positions you are evaluating. The right data will help ensure that you have a consistent and transparent means of setting competitive salaries well into the future.

Read more about how CUPA-HR’s higher ed salary surveys and DataOnDemand tool can help you with your institution’s compensation strategy and benchmarking efforts. And mark your calendar for the April 30 webinar “Using DataOnDemand for Strategic Decision-Making: Salary Increases, Equity Analyses and Prevailing Wage Determination.”