The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

How One College Is Using Salary Data to Ensure Pay Equity and Market-Par Compensation

We’ve been speaking with HR practitioners at colleges and universities around the country to find out how they’re using data and analytics to drive decision-making on campus. Here, Don Lerew, HRIS and payroll manager at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, tells us how he uses data to help develop compensation strategies and ensure pay equity and market-par salaries at his institution.

How are you using CUPA-HR’s salary survey data?
We participate in all of the CUPA-HR salary surveys every year, and we classify our positions according to the appropriate CUPA-HR category (or a blending of categories where most appropriate) based on the definitions provided in the surveys. We use DataOnDemand to review market median data against two or three different benchmark groups based on institutional budget, location, degrees offered, private, religious, etc. We also look at the national survey data from the annual reports.

How are you using data to help drive decision-making on campus?
Every position vacancy at Messiah is analyzed against market data, and one of the primary market data sources for our administrative and staff positions is CUPA-HR data — and we have developed a hiring range against this market data. Additionally, each year I analyze compensation data from certain areas/departments of the college to proactively monitor if we are in line with market data.

What are some of the areas you’ve analyzed?
I’ve focused these efforts thus far on departments that have a higher turnover rate at our college as well as positions that tend to have long-term vacancies. For these positions, I’ve looked at how the market is trending, what the CUPA-HR data says, and what our wages and increases are to see if we need to make adjustments. I then take each of those reviews to my vice president and make recommendations as to how to proceed. This helps us to be proactive and to know if/where we need to reallocate funds so that we don’t create a problem of turnover in those areas because we’re falling behind the market.

What are some of the outcomes of those analyses?
A couple of years ago we found that one of our departments was lagging just a bit behind market, so we felt like we needed to make some adjustments in order to not only remain competitive in the job market, but also ensure that we are being fair and consistent in our pay practices. So we were able to make the case for increasing compensation for certain positions in this area because we had the data to back it up.

I feel very strongly about pay consistency, pay equity and having solid salary data to support all of our compensation strategies at Messiah. I document all of my data processes and findings, and I try to be consistent in my data mining and analyses, so that I can defend our compensation decisions should they be called into question by an employee, a department or the institution. Because I consistently use market data and peer data in the way I do, and because I do these analyses with every open position on campus now, I feel much more confident that we shouldn’t have any pay inequity issues at the institution.

Read CUPA-HR’s research brief “Better Ways to Plan Your Budget Using CUPA-HR Data.” 


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