Insights

Salary Comparison Guide to Paying Employees

Ashley Brooks11 Oct 2021

Navigating the job market is a job in and of itself for both the employer and the job seeker. When determining if a role or applicant is right for you or your business, weighing the total compensation is very important. If the employer doesn’t offer a competitive salary then quality applicants aren’t likely to accept, which is costing the business money and both it and the applicants a lot of needless time.

Mira offers employers benefits that can help any business stand out, especially if the offered salary isn’t as competitive as you’d like. With a member membership, your employees get access to a whole host of health benefits such as affordable primary care, behavioral health, urgent care visits, discounted prescriptions, preventative screenings, and even discounted gym memberships. Sign up today for as little as $25 per employee per month. 

Why is Salary Comparison Important?

Searching for jobs, dispensing resumes, and preparing for interviews are crucial steps in not only finding a competitive job but being a competitive candidate. If you don’t do your research on what the market rate is for the job you’re either interviewing for or looking to get yourself, you’re doing a disservice to the business. You need to make sure that the pay is something that will work for you and the business, based on what each has as needs. 

While only a few states require disclosure of compensation within job postings, understanding salary expectations in those that lack transparency may help with negotiating later. Typically, employers are determined to pay the lowest, but if you have the talent or experience in demand,  the unbeknownst power lies in the lap of the candidate. Having conducted prior research on the salary range for that job industry and within your location may give you a leg up. This way, if you get a low-ball offer, you have a strong counter-offer.

Total Compensation is Both Salary & Extra Benefits

In the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can search through a surplus of job titles to find general information such as median pay, entry-level education requirements, job outlook, and more. If you are using a salary calculator to estimate your pay, you will need to know your job location, job title, the duties specified under the role, your level of education, and your level of experience. Numerous other online salary estimation tools exist, and trying out more than one is likely to help build your case and get you closer to your desired offer. 

Of course, this is a perfect scenario, and sometimes your perfect job does not come with the perfect salary. What may set your employer apart is the value you gain from the benefits offered. Instead of looking at just salary alone, look at the entire bundle the company provides. Both salary and benefits equate to an employee’s total compensation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, benefits accounted for nearly 31 percent of employer costs of compensation for U.S. civilian workers in March 2021, with salary making up 69 percent. An added benefit of benefits? Most are not taxable to the employee.

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Here are just a few of the competitive benefits an employer can offer that may boost your compensation:

  1. Health Insurance
  2. Employee Appreciation Programs
  3. Wellness Programs
  4. Office Perks
  5. Paid Sick Days
  6. Vacation/Paid Time Off
  7. Flexible Schedule/Work From Home
  8. Child Care Assistance
  9. Commuter Assistance
  10. Tuition Reimbursement
  11. Performance Bonuses
  12. Additional Healthcare Benefits
  13. Retirement Benefits
  14. Discounted Prescription Drugs

Salary Comparison Example

Let’s look at an example of how benefits can obscure a salary offer:

Sarah is a single, 35 year old female living in Colorado. She receives two job offers. Company X offers her $50,000, whereas Company Y offers her $60,000. While company Y offers a higher salary, company X offers more benefits. Company X offers health insurance and HSA, a dental plan, a retirement plan, tuition reimbursement, and a wellness plan. 

Dollar Value For Common Benefit Types

Benefit TypeAnnual Estimate
Health Insurance$4,000
Health Savings Account (HSA)$500
Matching Retirement Plan (5%)$2,500
Dental Insurance$1,500
Disability Insurance$2,000
Tuition Reimbursement$1,500
Financial Wellness Benefits$500
Total$12,500

**This table does not include employer FICA contributions or unemployment insurance (UI). Health insurance is calculated based on the 2021 Milliman Medical Index.

Which Job Option Is Best?

Based on a salary of $50,000, single-dependent, and 35-years old, Sarah gains an additional $12,500 in her total compensation, taking her first annual salary from just $50,000 to a $62,500 value at Company X. When weighing her two job prospects, her initial impression of Company X may have improved. It is important to keep in mind that compensation may increase as the number of dependents increases, and the number of those enrolled in an employee’s health plan.

Now that Sarah has more clarity in comparing compensation between her two job offers, she may decide based on her values and lifestyle choices. While Company Y now appears to compensate her slightly less than would Company X, perhaps Company Y is within walking distance from her home and has flexible working hours. She may weigh this convenience more heavily over tuition reimbursement offered at Company X because she may value a flexible schedule when considering future family planning. 

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By understanding the value of benefits offered by Company X, Sarah was able to look beyond salary when making her career choice and find what is best suitable for her lifestyle. This is something that will change from applicant to applicant, but everyone typically has something they value besides just money. 

Salary Comparison Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Discussing compensation is still an uncomfortable topic and requires independent research and tough decision-making. What may seem like the perfect job, may not come with the perfect salary, but be sure to check out the company’s perks before turning the job down. You may get more than just the ability to put food on the table, like discounted gym memberships or tuition assistance. 

What is a competitive salary for my job?

Salary is dependent upon numerous factors such as an employee’s location, years of experience, level of education, and responsibilities. Additionally, while two companies may offer the same role by name, the depth and types of responsibilities may differ. Many salary estimators exist, and knowing your qualifications compared to the job requirements will help you determine your compensation value.

When is it appropriate to ask an employer about compensation?

While some states have adopted regulations requiring salary disclosure in job postings, most have not. If you are in the dark about this information prior to a first-round interview but do not want to waste your time, keep in mind that compensation is dependent on many factors. As a general rule, you may want to wait until the hiring manager discusses the topic or when the employer makes the first move on the subject. Let the employer take the lead, but be prepared, having conducted research on the salary range and how your qualifications compare so that you are ready to negotiate. 

Are companies required to offer benefits in addition to salary?

Not all companies are held to the same requirements, and in many cases, they are dependent upon the company size. A company with more than 50 employees is required to offer health insurance, but a company just starting out and with few employees does not have the same mandate. Smaller and newer companies may not be able to afford paying nearly $30,000 in some cases to medically ensure an employee’s entire family, but offering desirable benefits can improve the attractiveness of the company, and in some cases, the productivity of the employee.

Bottom Line

When determining how a salary compares to others operating under the same title, you will want to consider job location, entry-level education requirements, and experience level. Additionally, what may seem like a low salary, could be redeemed in the benefits that a company offers. This is a good practice to take on whether you’re a job applicant or an employer looking to attract strong talent. 

Offering robust health benefit options can be the determining factor for a prospective employee to choose your business. Healthy employees also improve employee loyalty and productivity with fewer days missed due to health concerns. Take this quiz to see if Mira is right for your business!