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Three reasons why it’s important to benchmark what you pay your staff


3 June 2021 at 5:35 pm
Maggie Coggan
With the launch of the 2022 Pro Bono Salary Survey Report, we revisit some of the reasons salary benchmarking can be critical to the success of your organisation.


Maggie Coggan | 3 June 2021 at 5:35 pm


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Three reasons why it’s important to benchmark what you pay your staff
3 June 2021 at 5:35 pm

With the launch of the 2022 Pro Bono Salary Survey Report, we revisit some of the reasons salary benchmarking can be critical to the success of your organisation.

In today’s tough and competitive job market, it’s important for all organisations, including not for profits, to utilise every strategy they can to remain ahead of the game and attract the best talent.  

One of these strategies is salary benchmarking. 

A process that matches internal job descriptions to external jobs with similar responsibilities to identify the market rate for each position, salary benchmarking is useful for both organisations and employees. 

This data can be found in a few places, one of them being Pro Bono Australia’s annual Salary Survey, the largest NFP remuneration survey in the country. 

It provides critical information to guide boards, management and individuals on how to pay fairly, or be paid fairly.

In 2021, the report featured analysis from Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (QUT ACPNS).  We sat down with Wendy Scaife, the director of QUT ACPNS, to discuss three reasons why it’s important to benchmark what you pay your staff.  

It helps you to retain good staff.

While people in the NFP sector are predominantly there because they are working towards a goal or mission far bigger than themselves, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be accurately compensated – no one wants their goodwill taken lightly.

Using benchmarking data can help you retain top executives, who might start looking elsewhere if their salary package isn’t competitive.

“If some other employer is paying more for the same work and skills, there’s a recipe for dissatisfaction – and all the negatives that carries with it in a work team,” Scaife said. 

“Even if your own agency cannot meet another’s benchmarked salary, there are non-salary compensations that must be thought through to keep amazing and committed staff.”

It will help you avoid turnover costs 

Retaining valuable staff will also mean you avoid the costs of turnover, which actually add up. 

“The cost of turnover in terms of loss of corporate memory, recruitment, upskilling, probation times and possible staff separation is huge,” Scaife said.  

“Retaining good staff is money in the bank.

It shows you value your team  

Most charities or social purpose organisations are guided by a mission statement. This will often include valuing staff and volunteers, and what better way to demonstrate just how much you value your team members than by ensuring they are receiving a fair salary. 

From an organisational perspective, Scaife said it’s also useful to understand where your costs are going, and if anything can be adjusted. 

“I was challenged once as a not for profit CEO when we were drafting our values. We had included ‘valuing our staff and volunteer team’ high on the list and I was asked to justify that we were living up to that value in terms of salaries paid and conditions offered. It was a good question,” she said.

“Actions speak louder than words and we found we were underpaying parts of our operation – and overpaying others.” 

If you’re interested in checking out the latest NFP benchmarking data, you can access the 2022 Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey report here.

UPDATE: This article was updated to reflect the launch of the 2022 Pro Bono Salary Survey Report.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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