Consulting firm claims unhappy workers likely overpaid
By Lee Russ
Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 05:16 PM
If that headline didn't spin your head around I don't know what will. Actually, I do: how about if being GROSSLY underpaid means that you aren't underpaid at all? Read on. It makes a kind of sick, 21st century PR spin sense.The consultant/service provider is salary.com which headlines its news release "Many Employees Wrongly Assume They Are Underpaid."
According to the press release to News Wire, of workers who plan on looking for a new job in the next three months, the "majority cite inadequate compensation as the primary reason they want to walk out the door...But...Salary.com found that less than 20 percent were actually underpaid, meaning more than 80 percent of these workers who feel they're underpaid are not. In fact, detailed analysis of the latest compensation data from Salary.com shows that some of them are actually overpaid."
There are two problems with that. The first is that the figures differ from what the actual study found. When you check the fuller description on the salary.com web site, you find that:
"only 18.7% of the self-proclaimed underpaid employees looking to leave their job were in reality underpaid. That means nearly 80% of these workers who felt that they were underpaid actually were not. The majority of these workers, 34.2%, were paid fairly relative to the market, while 17.4% were overpaid.
The other 29.6% of these workers were being paid so far below market range (less than 70% of their job's market value, based on their job title, industry, geography, and company size) that they had most likely been over-titled.
Get it? If you are grossly underpaid, then you're not underpaid, you're simply carrying a bogus job description.
Which brings us to problem number 2. How do you know what the pay for a given job SHOULD be? After all, you have to have a reference point to evaluate whether someone is underpaid or overpaid.
Well, salary,com is in the business of "providing employee compensation data, software, and services to enterprises, small businesses, and individuals." So, of course, they used their own data as the benchmark. You were overpaid or underpaid based on what the entity doing the study personally thought was underpaid or overpaid.
You can't buy validity like that. Oh wait, I guess we just proved you can.
So rather than almost 30% being "over-titled," it could well be that salary.com's database is screwed up. It could be that they undervalue a lot of jobs.
But that won't hurt them, you know. They're selling the services to businesses. What better sales pitch than to have employers think you can help them convince employees that they're "overpaid," "over-titled," or--get ready to collect your bonus--both overpaid and over-titled?