Overview of Towers Watson Survey Methodology

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What has changed for the 2011 surveys?

Much of the 2011 survey offering has remained the same, and existing participants will recognise much of the same jobs and data, with enhancements to the amount of data as well as the look and feel of the surveys.  However, Towers Watson is running a series of Workshops and Webcasts to provide an update on the 2011 survey offering.  Please refer to the dates and locations link for details.  You can book your place via the register link or contact our UK customer services team at tweudata@towerswatson.com.

In the meantime the following tables provide a summary for previous participants in either of the legacy survey offerings:

What Legacy Towers Perrin Clients Can Expect?


…To Remain


…To Improve

  • Coding of Functions, Disciplines and Career Levels
  • Descriptions for Functions, Disciplines and matching notes descriptions.
  • Career Level general profiles
  • Data elements
  • Country coverage
  • Custom peer groups will facilitate 2010 versus 2011 comparisons


  • Integrated leveling methodology
    • Career Bands replaced Career Ladders
    • Global Grades introduced to underpin Career Levels
    • Technical Support (T) and Business Support (U) Career Bands split from Technical/Business Support
    • M5 – Senior Group Manager added
    • Level-based survey expanded to include executive
    • Global Grades replace Executive Bands
  • Functions and Disciplines
  • Enhancements to Functions and Disciplines
  • Functions and Disciplines added for Executive jobs
  • Policies and Practices data


What Legacy Watson Wyatt Clients Can Expect?


…To Remain


…To Improve

  • Top-to-bottom hierarchical job coverage
  • All jobs currently surveyed
  • Global Grades
  • Previous year’s incumbent data for returning participants
  • Policies and Practices covering all areas currently surveyed and supported by online questionnaires and previous input
  • All data elements currently surveyed
  • Integrated leveling methodology
    • Global Grade matching integrated within Career Level framework
    • More intuitive and self-guiding through the inclusion of detailed job matching instructions for all clients
  • Greater leveling consistency across roles
  • More flexible job matching unified by a single, global methodology and content
    • Level-driven job matching
    • Benchmark descriptions
  • Substantially increased job coverage and gapless Career Ladders to allow more accurate matching
  • New Job Codes (full cross-reference support will be provided)
  • More user-defined output customization


Will the previous survey levelling methodologies be maintained?

A.        Yes. The Towers Watson survey methodology integrates Global Grades within a Career Level framework, encompassing the concept of career progression through Career Levels with differentiated job size as determined by Global Grades.

What survey job referencing system has been used?

In order to attain global consistency, we have adopted the job coding system used in the CDB surveys. This process follows a Function, Discipline approach to matching roles and is not to dissimilar to matching to Job family and jobs. Existing participants will automatically receive updated job codes when the survey submission sheets are circulated.

Do the survey codes differ in each country?

No – each survey will have a consistent approach to coding except for certain roles which are survey specific

Will a read across table be provided?

Yes. A full participant guide is available which will outline the matching process and provide you with a read across table between your existing codes and new codes (where there are changes) and provide the alignment between Career Levels and Global Grades.

Will your product offering be changing?

Much will remain the same and familiar to survey participants, areas of note/enhancements are:

1. Survey output options:
There will be online published outputs and an option for an ‘advanced’ survey offering that supports online peer group selection.

Published (example): Access to standard survey report, age data and policies and practices information

Advanced (example): Includes Published plus Create peer group, customize reports (percentiles, breaks) and combine jobs/levels, and other features…

2. Survey Types:

Compensation surveys: The majority of the Towers Watson Compensation surveys will be covering all employees from Executives to admin support roles.

Executive Compensation surveys: For some countries we will be providing dedicated executive compensation surveys (including LTI).

3. Policy and Practices
The Towers Watson all employee compensation surveys will include analysis of pay and benefits trends and associated policy and practices.

Will Executive Bands remain?

There will still be an executive band, but the executive levels have been replaced by Global Grades.

Do I have to determine the Global Grade of the organization?

This is relatively quick but important step in the methodology that helps ensure consistency and quality of the survey matching and data.  Our participant guide will walk you through how to arrive at the top grade of your organisation. This is an important step in the process in order to place a ceiling at the top and allow the benchmarking of the remaining executive or non-executive positions. Please refer to the Executive Global Grade Summary Descriptions for CEO/Profit Center Heads.

Will you be providing any training on the survey approach and methodology for 2011?

Yes, there will be a series of workshops, webcasts and materials posted on our website that will provide guide on all changes/additions to the 2011 surveys.

Data submission process

What differences will I see in the survey submission process? 

The process will be much the same, (i.e. similar data elements). All participants will now have to submit Career Bands/Levels and Global Grades, existing participants will automatically receive the alignment between the two levelling methodologies.  Our policies and practices questionnaire will also need to be completed.

When will I have to submit my participant data?

This will be dependent on the survey deadline, but dates tend to be similar to previous years. Please refer to your survey consultant or contact customer services

Do I have to complete a policies and practices questionnaire with my data submission?

Yes. All participants will have to complete a policies and practices questionnaire. Participants, who have supplied us with policies and practices data in the past, will continue to receive pre-populated information.

Will the policies and practices questionnaire be different from previous years?

No. Inputs/outputs will generally be the same as previous years

How will submissions be submitted? Online? Excel?

This will depend on the survey, usually this will be via completion of excel spreadsheets emailed to your account manager or customer services team or via the online submission sheets.

Can I submit in the same format across multiple countries?

Yes you can, although for some surveys or countries additional information is required.

Data output

What online survey delivery system will be used?

Existing survey delivery systems (i.e. Comptrack and CompOnline) will be maintained with the 2010 surveys, however, a new online system CompSourceTM, will include all the functionality participants are currently familiar with. CompSourceTM will be available with the delivery of the 2011 surveys during this year. Demo versions will be made available prior to survey releases.

In what form will the data be provided?

CompSource will provide market data in published format but will allow customisation through our ‘Advanced’ option.

Will the format of the data output be the same with the similar output lines of analysis?

Output will provide much the same data elements as you have previously been use to. However the look and feel of the survey output will change slightly for some surveys!

Do you offer survey output on selected companies/regions?

Yes we do, depending on the survey information available. If you participate in our surveys and opt for our ‘Advanced’ option, analysis on selected companies/regions will be a standard part of your package. For specific city analysis, please refer to your survey consultant or customer services

Will you still have the same job coverage in your surveys and will I still receive data for all the jobs I previously matched to?

The vast majority of the roles used in our surveys have remained, as we do every year following participant feedback we have reviewed and update the roles included.  Where we have combined the legacy Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt surveys we expect the combined participants list to increase the survey samples and the job data available to you.  Where “roll up” data (i.e. combination of similar rolls or levels) has been provided to you in the past this will still be available through the standard survey publications, with users of the advanced survey option being able to combine jobs (functions, disciplines, levels and grades) as they wish.

Will the survey data change dramatically for 2011?

Where we have had the opportunity to combine legacy Towers Perrin and Watson Wyatt surveys it has meant that participant numbers and data samples have increased, providing a greater strength and robustness of market data.  As with most surveys the sample composition (i.e. types and numbers of participants) can affect the data, for many surveys the effect will be limited, and in others we believe the strength of the data samples will provide a greater representation of the market.   In addition, the Towers Watson surveys will still maintain the ability to request or select a sample group of companies.


What countries do you provide data for?

The combined survey offering means that Towers Watson can provide market information in over 100 countries so please contact your survey consultant or customer services for more information.