External Market Data Review

To ensure that the University remains competitive in recruitment and retention, the Division of Human Resources compensation team conducts an annual external market data review of all the jobs in the University's career architecture.

In the context of compensation, “market” means the demand and worth of jobs within the current labor market.

External market data review involves reviewing jobs within the University’s career architecture against market data. This includes:

  • Identifying external benchmarks based on carefully selected, reputable compensation surveys conducted by third-party organizations.
  • Matching the survey data from jobs in relevant markets (e.g. higher education, general industry, and specialized industries) to jobs within the University’s career architecture.

Following the market review, the HR compensation team then presents findings and recommendations to University leadership.

Market Data Review Cycle:

  • Fall
    • The University's career architecture is reviewed against third-party surveys.
  • Winter
    • Findings and recommendations are provided to University leadership.
    • Once approved, results of the market data review are shared and included in planning assumptions by early January in advance of the budget planning period.
  • Summer
    • Approved changes take effect in the new fiscal year. 

Outside of this cycle, ad hoc reviews can be performed throughout the year if a business need is identified or at the request of a department/unit. Please contact your Senior HR Partner with questions.

For more information, review the full UA Compensation Annual Cycle (PDF).

Each annual review includes two sources for higher education surveys, which remain the same each year:

  • Western Management Group's EduComp survey
  • CUPA-HR's Higher Education surveys

Each annual review includes benchmark surveys that represent private and public agency data. The benchmark survey source we use rotates each year among:

  • Mercer
  • Towers Watson
  • Compdata

Some University departments/units participate in industry-specific surveys on an annual basis. In these cases, the HR compensation team includes those surveys in the market review for specific industry jobs.

Survey data is matched to University jobs by comparing job descriptions in the survey to duties and responsibilities defined in our career architecture. To assist in this process, the HR compensation team imports survey data into a software system that houses all our career architecture jobs.

We then match median market salaries provided by the survey data to the midpoint of the salary range in existing pay grades in our University Staff pay structure. This comparison reveals where the University may differ from market.

Once the HR compensation team finalizes the external market data review, HR provides recommendations to executive leadership for final review and approval.

Not every market review results in updates to assigned pay grades. However, if University leadership determines that the market data review reveals a need to update compensation for certain jobs, then those jobs may be moved to different pay grades within the existing pay structure (i.e. the pay grades themselves would not change).

Example: A job within our career architecture might be assigned to pay grade 4. If data show that the market pays a higher salary range for that job, then the University may decide to re-assign the job to pay grade 5.

Note about pay raises: When a job is re-assigned to a new pay grade based on market data, pay increases for current employees are only required if an employee’s pay rate is below the minimum of the new pay grade. Other strategic pay increase decisions (e.g. to account for compression and internal equity) may be made by individual units and departments. Please contact your Senior HR Partner for guidance.

Do you need more assistance? 

Connect with your Senior HR Partner

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