We’re living through unusual times. Many businesses are facing unforeseen challenges stemming from COVID-19. For some companies, revenue took a steep dive and they’re slashing budgets to keep afloat during these turbulent times. Other businesses are experiencing a surge in consumer demand, and their biggest struggle is finding and attracting talent with the right skills and experience, despite fierce competition. No matter which end of the spectrum you’re on (or if you’re somewhere in the middle), putting together fair and competitive compensation packages ensures you’re able to attract and retain the core talent your business needs to survive the pandemic. Here are 5 ways to use salary data to support your business during the pandemic.


interested in learning about salary trends in 2021 and how to fairly compensate your employees? get your copy of our 2021 salary guide.

1. negotiate salaries for new employees

If you’re in the process of hiring new employees, there’s a good chance they’ll negotiate their entry salary (yes, even during the pandemic). Our research shows that the economic downturn has had a minimal impact on salaries in most industries. To be competitive and access quality talent, you’ll need to pay market rates. This is not a time to cut corners or try to offer a lower salary, or you’re likely to end up with a poor quality candidate unable to perform the job or will leave the second they find a better opportunity. Don’t go into salary negotiations blind, or assume you can pay a new hire the same as a previous person who held the role. Salaries shift all the time, so it’s important to verify your hiring budget is in line with the market rate if you want to be competitive. Ideally, have a salary range, so you can adjust your offer based on the skills and experience the candidate brings to the role. Our salary guide is a helpful tool to use in this situation because it provides salary information based on job title, years of experience and location, all of which affect the salary you’ll need to offer. For instance, if you’re hiring an administrative assistant with 3 years of experience in Toronto, the reference salary range for this position is $44,800 to $53,600. However, if they bring 10+ years of experience, the expected salary range is $48,000 to $57,500.

2. validate compensation for existing employees

Salary isn’t just a consideration for new hires. An attractive salary can entice skilled workers to your company, however ensuring their salary continues to grow as their experience does is critical to keep workers around long term. During the pandemic, this is especially important. Retaining star talent and keeping your core staff is critical to weather the economic ups and downs. If you’re experiencing high turnover a common culprit is lack of salary growth. Did you know the average Canadian receives a raise of 2.6% per year? However, by switching jobs workers can often make as much as 10-20% on top of their current rate. That incentivizes workers to jump ship and find a new role elsewhere if their salary starts to fall behind. So it’s critical to ensure that your salary rates are not just keeping up with inflation, but staying in-line with what employees will be able to find elsewhere. Each year you should verify all of your employees’ salaries and check whether they’re due for a raise. High performing, ambitious employees know their worth, and if you can’t provide an attractive compensation package, they will look elsewhere!

3. benchmark salary ranges

If you have multiple people working in the same or similar roles at your organization, you should ensure that their salaries are consistent. For instance, if you have two project managers with roughly the same amount of experience, they should be making a relatively similar salary. It’s important to compare salaries in each department or area of your organization and ensure that salaries are fair and consistent. Women and people of colour tend to make less than their white male counterparts, so ensuring that your salary ranges are clearly benchmarked is essential for promoting a fair, diverse workplace that treats everyone equally. There have been some studies about how being transparent and open about salary ranges increases diversity, innovation and ultimately business results. Our salary guide can assist you with the task of benchmarking salaries.

4. include salaries in job descriptions

Did you know that job descriptions with clear salary ranges receive more high-quality applications than identical job descriptions without salary information? Employers are often wary of including a salary range in their job descriptions, worrying it will weaken their negotiating power, or attract people who are interested solely in the amount of money they can make. In fact, the opposite is true. Openness and transparency draw in skilled candidates who see that their skills and experience will be fairly valued in the role. If you offer a salary range, you can always negotiate within that range depending on the experience and skills the candidates bring. Someone with less experience may receive an offer on the lower end of the range, while someone with extra value-added skills may get an offer at the top of the range. Skilled workers know their value in the market, and are attracted to roles that will pay them fairly, especially right now. Some unscrupulous employers are using the pandemic as an excuse to undercut salaries and take advantage of people who are out of work, so employers who offer fair and competitive salaries stand out and strengthen reputation as a fair and reputable employer. 

5. develop a cohesive salary structure

If you’ve recently started your own company (or are in your first few years of doing business), you’ve probably had to figure out everything as you go. Most of the time you probably had to create and implement all your processes from scratch. From figuring out bookkeeping, to developing HR processes, to finding office space, whatever your business needs, you had to do it all. That includes figuring out how much you should pay each new employee you hire. Every new position you hire means figuring out where they fit on your pay scale. Our 2021 salary guide is a useful resource to develop a cohesive salary structure so every employee on your team is fairly compensated. For each role, you’ll find the salary ranges based on years of experience and location, ensuring accurate data across the board. Use the data to create your own salary structure depending on the positions you have in your company.

interested in learning about salary trends in 2021 and how to fairly compensate your employees? get your copy of our 2021 salary guide.

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