Why Industry Salary Surveys Matter

You may love your job working in a professional or trade association—or any other nonprofit organization for that matter—but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to pay your bills on time. So when those salary survey participation offers and the subsequent reports show up in your inbox, it’s a pretty good opportunity to learn something.

Most employers want to pay their staff competitive wages. The cost of training can be high, and turnover is rough on everyone. Knowing what the competition is paying for similar jobs is important to attracting and retaining happy staff. Understanding the bucks and perks being offered down the street can help you when it comes time to negotiate a compensation package—whether it’s yours or that of an employee. So a little homework is in order, and the 2016-2017 Association Salaries, Staffing & Trends Report from PNP Staffing Group is a good place to start.

Ranjita Chattopadhyay is a writer for Paycheck India. And although you may not be contemplating a move to India, he didn’t mince words about the value of employees, employers, and candidates reading salary reports. In his article about the importance of salary surveys for the employee and employer, Ranjita summarily writes: “The most valuable information that employees get out of such surveys is whether they are getting their actual worth or not. You can compare your salary with those of others occupying similar positions and equally qualified as you are. Thus, you will get a clear picture about whether you are underpaid or rightly paid.” Knowing what the industry standard is will help you when negotiating your salary or it can help you frame an offer for a prospective employee.

At the end of 2016, PNP Staffing Group conducted a survey of the salaries and staffing trends of Washington, DC Area Associations. Home to more Associations than any other city, Washington, DC serves as a national barometer for the sector.

Association leaders are looking forward to organizational growth in influence, programs and size as they grow their staff, salaries, and benefits. 63% of the Associations surveyed reported an increase in staff. Staff salaries increased in 88% of those surveyed. So why does this matter?

HR professionals are expected to use up-to-date market pay information. For example, salary ranges for 36 positions for three different staff-size categories are included in the PNP report. Salary extremes were removed, and the median salary is noted for each position. The researchers then extended out from that median to include 25% of salaries below and 25% of salaries above, creating a fairly broad 50 percentile spread. If your organization is paying below the salary range listed for a position in your staff-size category, then 75% of the other organizations are paying a competitively higher salary.

Although money isn’t everything, it means a lot. Not offering competitive salaries can cause a candidate to not only refuse an offer, but to not even consider your organization as a potential employer. This delays hiring, increases the negative impact of vacancies, and could result in ultimately hiring a less than optimal candidate for the position.

Which brings us back to the beginning: salary surveys provide a pretty good opportunity to learn something, no matter which side of the desk you are negotiating from.

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