A few years ago, 3R Strategy ran an employee survey for a client organisation. We asked people what their role was in the company and if they defined themselves as a manager or executive.  

Now, bear in mind there were only seven documented execs in this company. However, around 55 people reported that they were executive employees.  

From this, we learnt how important it is to first define what we mean by ‘executive employees’. Without proper communication, team members may start to develop false assumptions, leading to unrealistic pay expectations. 

There can be varying definitions across different organisations, which is confusing—especially for new employees. So getting your head around this and clearly explaining the defining factors to your employees can help to manage expectations and make the process of communicating executive benchmarking much easier. 


Defining Executive Roles 

In some places, execs might be anyone who is reporting to the CEO. In others, the definition may be slightly broader –or even narrower. For example, there may be a sub-team of direct CEO reports who are also classed as executives.  

If you look at some salary surveys, like Willis Towers Watson, executive roles are defined as those responsible for setting the strategy of a function, rather than implementing the strategy. 

When you’re looking to define this in your organisation, you must understand the difference between executives, managers, and other employees. Only then can you effectively communicate this across the organisation. 

executive benchmarking

Our Executive Benchmarking Process

When it comes to making decisions about executive pay, it is essential to have credible and reliable market data to support your approach.

But that’s not enough on its own. We also need the understanding and expertise to interpret the data correctly. This means approaching it with context and a clear view of the implications.

This is what 3R Strategy gives to our clients.

Our reward team can provide the data, context and guidance to make well-informed decisions that support an organisation’s goals.

How We Helped Turley

Architecture and planning organisation Turley approached us wanting to benchmark their executive roles. The aims were to:

  • Support good governance and provide an update to their remuneration committee.
  • Ensure that their pay remained competitive and aligned with the external market.
  • Retain their key executives who contribute to Turley’s success.

What We Did

First, we sourced data based on the best comparative group for Turley’s roles. This meant coordinating on behalf of the organisation to source the data from Willis Towers Watson. We looked at the overall data, as well as multiple peer groups to provide data on the market median, upper quartile, and lower quartile for each role.

Our data was based on job evaluation of each of the roles that we were benchmarking. It looked into:

  • Scope of responsibility
  • Unique knowledge and contribution
  • Individual performance
  • Internal relativities

Our market assessment also covered a number of remuneration elements, including:

  • Base salary
  • Target bonus opportunity
  • Long-term incentives
  • Target total cash
  • Car allowance

The Outcome

Our reward team produced a full report for Turley’s remuneration committee, which provided a detailed summary and an explanation of our methodology.

On top of this, an executive summary highlighted key points around the market data and significant findings from the benchmarking process.

We also provided further details for each job and presented this to Turley, gathering feedback and making final updates. With this information, their executive pay could be managed in a fair and consistent way, allowing Turley to align their approach with the market and their broader reward strategy.