26 January 2024

Salary Survey 2024: Creating Robust Salary Benchmarks in Location Planning and Customer Insight

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


I co-ordinate a salary survey for the Location Planning and Customer Insight industry once every two years. January is when the real work starts and 2024 happens to be the year of the survey.

The planning for the salary survey starts in September the previous year where we are looking at other themes and determining whether to add or remove questions. January is particularly stressful. Fortunately, it only happens every two years, so I forget how much effort is involved.

Origins of the Salary Survey

I am extremely proud that this initiative, started in 2016, has now been firmly placed as the only resource for benchmarking of salaries and benefits in our industry. I am also grateful for the support of The SLA who has also been there since its inception. I am also very appreciative of anyone who has taken time to complete the survey this year or in previous years – there would be no report without this data.

It has been and continues to be used by practitioners, hiring managers and HR teams as a robust benchmark tool. I have also been asked to provide bespoke ‘slices’ of the data to provide an evidence base for appraisals. I really appreciate the feedback that a number of you have given as to how useful the survey has been in supporting your careers.

There is a lot of cost (in terms of £ and time) that goes into the salary survey. There is the cost of the survey platform which seems to see above inflation increases each year. There is also the cost of doing the analysis and producing the outputs. Before we get to that stage I do spend a lot of time trying to drive that response rate up.

I effectively write off the last 2 weeks in the run up to deadline day. Apologies if you feel like you’ve been bombarded by all sides in recent weeks, but the results-driven strength in me is kicking into overdrive and I am always determined to match or better the previous years’ response rate.

I appreciate that people are busier than ever and finding the time to do it could be a barrier. But to be honest I don’t buy that excuse – it takes 4 minutes to complete! Only recently a contact told me that they were so busy but could I remind them later in the week to get it done. They could have completed the survey in the time it took them to write the email! 

Data Usage and Security

The response rate for the salary survey has steadily grown over the years, but I can’t help think that we should be getting more of a higher response rate. I do understand the sensitive nature of what is supplied, but rest assured we treat this data with the highest level of data security and we also only use it for the purpose that it was originally collected.

We do not reverse engineer the data in order to try and work out individuals, and we’ve never passed the response data on either. I should celebrate the realities – in recent years we have consistently got over 200 responses. I estimate between 1,000-1,200 practitioners in the UK, meaning at best it is a 20% response rate and at worst 16.6%.

We use the data to create crosstabs and averages (where there is an appropriate sample size), and this has formed the basis for analysis which will now be the fifth year that we’ve run it. We have paid particular attention to the gender pay gap in previous reports and we’ve also highlighted the difference in earning potential between London, the South east and other parts of the UK.

We do get some resistance and in this day and age where everyone is so rightly guarded about personal data I do understand that. Of course, it’s an individual choice to decide to contribute or not to the survey. For those ‘sceptical practitioners’ out there all I would say is I can’t see a time when you wouldn’t need this sort of data and support in benchmarking your own earnings or looking at future earning potential.

As a recruiter, we have a database filled with people’s actual salaries based on what they tell us. In an ideal world I wouldn’t need to ask people for this data – we should just be able to glean it from our system. We prefer the approach of a two or three weeks survey where we are consistently collecting the same data. We also collect a lot of other data with which to crosstab against which we may not capture as part of our day-to-day recruitment work.

One frustration of mine is that of partial completions. This is usually when someone starts the survey and then gets distracted and therefore don’t complete it. I think it may cause confusion because often people may have partially completed and then thought that they have completed it.

It is only on rare occasion that we can use those partial completions where they’ve got sufficiently far in the survey that allows us to at least use some of the data. In fact, while writing this blog post, I am now thinking that we need to set up a trigger in 2026 when someone completes the survey that sends an email thanking you just as confirmation that they have successfully submitted their response.

Salary Survey 2024 benchmarks - current responses
Salary Survey 2024 Response Counter (as of 26/01/2024)

I also thought I would share with you the motivations behind doing the salary survey back in 2016. At that point, Red Tiger Talent were fairly new to the market and we wanted to establish ourselves and gain credibility. We do now have that reputation and credibility in the market.  We still support this initiative because we are big advocates (and practitioners) in our industry. This is exemplified by my co-chair role at the SLA – where I am tasked with continuing to further the standing and best practice of our profession.

Salary Survey Deadline

I write this with just less than two days to go until the salary survey deadline, my target of 250 responses does seem a little way out – currently on 198 responses, with 74 partial completions (grrrr!). Now on the morning of the deadline, we are currently on 209 responses. Last time we did it in 2022 we managed to get 217 responses. I would ideally like to beat that so anything between 220 and 250 would be a result.

Anyway, I will politely ask for those of you who haven’t filled in the survey to take four minutes out of your time to complete the survey as your response is incredibly valuable to us. It just allows us more robust output when we’re doing the cross tabs against the different fields such as a job grade, years of experience, age, type of company, government office region, gender, et cetera.

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.


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