A Radford substitute that isn’t perfect, but works

June 2, 2023
Min Read
A Radford substitute that isn’t perfect, but works

Radford data is a pillar in many comp strategies, but it’s limited. Offers hold the key to more confident pay decisions based on real-time market interactions.

Key topics

“How about all that rain?”

After dozens of articles and conversations with veteran comp leaders, I fear the Compa team has resorted to small talk: the weather.

Since the 1800s, forecasts have long been the gold standard for predicting weather trends.

And if forecasting is the way we predict, observe, and talk about the weather, is it worth asking if there’s something better?

Imagine it’s Friday night and you have dinner plans at a restaurant nearby. Earlier in the week, your phone’s weather app forecasted a 100% chance of rain. But when grabbing your umbrella to leave, you look outside to see clear skies.

Do you still open the umbrella?

This is the difference between historical and real-time data.

Weather forecasts use a combination of data from satellites, radar, and historical patterns. This helps you decide what to wear, when to leave, and what table to reserve.

But looking outside gives you the confidence you won’t show up soaking wet.

Here’s why Radford data is a little bit like weather forecasts, and why there might be something more when you need it — like looking outside.

The historical standard for compensation data

Most comp folks in the tech and life sciences industries have leveraged Radford compensation data at one point or another. For those who haven’t, Radford is a benchmark for employee pay, benefits, and total compensation data, fed largely by self-reported surveys and industry snapshots. 

Total comp and HR leaders use Radford data to make decisions every day. But there are two truths about Radford that leave room for improvement:

  1. Survey data lags. Tech stock valuations are down as much as 80%. Surveys don't show this because the data it’s compiled happened months, or even years, before.
  2. Submissions are manual. Radford collects data through exhaustive and manual submissions. This can take months, require a small analyst team, and expose the data to errors. So before it even gets to you, the report has been through the wringer.

Let’s be clear: Like weather forecasts, Radford data isn’t the least untrue. It’s based on substantial information that has real value in our everyday decisions.

But whether or not that’s enough is up to you.

At Compa, we believe offers matter most.

They’re the source of truth for all pay decisions a company makes during an employee’s tenure, whether it’s an annual increase, promotion, or bonus. Offers reflect real-time market behavior, since they’re literally an exchange between a seller (candidate) and a buyer (company).

Using offers-based data to inform your comp strategy is like looking outside.

While external sources like Radford might help you plan accordingly, real-time, offers-based data helps you decide pay, confidently.

Surveys look back, offers look forward

While Radford remains a pillar in many comp strategies, it’s safe to assume its limitations.

Offers, on the other hand, present some unique advantages worth exploring.

Most companies record offer transactions in an applicant tracking system (ATS) like Greenhouse, iCIMS, or Workday. Each month, as offers are marked accepted or rejected, an ATS collectively gains millions of new data points across the market. And since they’re designed to talk to each other, applicant tracking systems allow companies to share, and then leverage, transactions automatically — something that isn’t possible with Radford’s manual submissions.

This “automated offer-sharing” can give comp teams a live look into the market and the ability to move fast in equally high-speed industries. And with offers-only data like new hire bonuses and stock grants, teams can slow the dreaded moving equity target.

Teams can proactively steer leadership decisions, validate recruiter anecdotes, improve hiring performance, spin up new teams, and even brace for market shifts early.

If you’ve ever felt like you overpaid for top talent, in the ugly face of inflation, layoffs, or iffy stock valuations, this one’s for you. Offers-based data helps you know exactly what the market’s paying no matter what happens, laying the groundwork for all pay and comp decisions to come.

The power of real-time offers data with Compa

We asked some of our customers what real-time market data would help their team accomplish. 

This is what we heard:

  • Overcome survey lag: Comp teams want up-to-date survey alternatives. Offer data, in real time, is the answer.
  • Identify hot jobs and market trends: The market moves fast. If you blink (read: use old data benchmarks) you might just miss it.
  • Validate recruiting anecdotes: Recruiters are frontline soldiers, but they have dozens of tasks. They don’t have time to validate a candidate’s story (and neither do you).

For a lot of our customers, these are million-dollar factors. It’s not uncommon for companies that, say, hire thousands of candidates at $150,000 a year or more, to manage opportunities in the tens or hundreds of millions. What we’re saying is that offers — and the data they hold — matter a lot.

At Compa, we’re all about putting better data in the capable hands of comp leaders.

See that? The rain is clearing. It’s time to step outside with confidence.

Back to Blog

Discover the future of compensation