How do you set salaries? Bonuses? The total package?

The largest expense in most businesses is compensation and benefits. This is why there is steady demand for C&B talent in large or growing organizations. But C&B experts cannot create a salary structure without reputable market benchmark data.

Introducing RewardOnline™ from 21st Century.

21st Benchmarking Surveys (Singapore)
About 21st Century (Singapore)

All the statistics you need. Easy to submit data. Fraction of the cost you’d pay big firms.

Read on to learn more, or call us today for a free demo of the system.

Benchmark Data Sources for Singapore

When it comes to remuneration and mobility data, the needs of each employer are different, ranging from extensive global needs to smaller single-country data requirements. Some employers benchmark to their own industry or sector, while others benchmark against general industry. Some are looking for a primary data source, others for a secondary source for jobs not found in their primary source, or because the numbers don’t look right (or don’t support your organization’s needs) in the primary source.

There are many sources of pay data, ranging from free—government or recruiting agency data (including sites like jobstreet which are paid for by recruiters) to highly expensive “total global” solutions available from the big guys such as Mercer, Towers, Hay, etc. If your needs (and budget, and C&B staff) are really big, go with the big guys.

For smaller and midsize companies with significant workforces—250 or greater—you are concerned about market alignment, but lack the big budgets and C&B staff to handle the data submission requirements of the big surveys. Larger employers  maybe using one or more of the big surveys yet feel a need for a good secondary source, or a survey that focuses better on your industry or certain niche occupations.

If your compensation data needs are not being fully met, read on about remuneration and mobility data from 21st Century, now serving Singapore employers.

Remuneration Data by 21st Century RewardOnline

The big HR data providers all have data—their data. If you are in the energy sector, you could ask Mercer for data, and they will sell you theirs. But there’s a good chance HayGroup has better data for the energy sector. As an independent rewards consultant, I am well networked with all the big data providers, and I can help you decide which sources are best for you.

 21st Century

Already the leading provider of rewards consulting, data and technology in Africa, 21st Century is now serving Asia, starting with Singapore. They offer an unmatched combination of quality, coverage, ease of use and affordable cost. Their staff of analysts is impressive. Here’s what I like about 21st Century:

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  1. Over 1,000 job titles, with job descriptions, each correlated by level to Hay points, Mercer PC, TowersWatson global grades, and many other job content based evaluation systems, including Paterson (also known as the Decision Band Method)
  2. Breadth and depth—both general staff, as well as several niche industry or occupation surveys. Provides all levels of pay: base salary, total fixed pay, total cash (including annual incentives or commissions), total direct (including long-term incentives) and total compensation (including benefits).
  3. Easy submission—less than 20 company information items, and less than 40 incumbent items. (Compare that with the big surveys!)
  4. Better matching process—21st Century matches your jobs, then lets you validate the matching. They report better matching consistency across participants. Less time, better quality.
  5. Stress-free—no deadlines: submit your data today and get online access in about a week. Database is open all year-round.
  6. Designed for Asia—Pay data reported in both annual and monthly figures. No need to divide by 13 like you do with the big surveys.
  7. Local and Foreigners—See data for all incumbents, local employees only or non-local (foreign) employees only. Same with contract type: see data for local contracts, local plus contracts, or both. We do not ask information for true expatriates paid on home country structures.
  8. Mappable to your other surveys—for each job, tell us the Hay points or Mercer position class to ensure we match the correct level. Then view your data by equivalent level (Hay points, Mercer Position Class, etc.) to directly compare multiple sources.
  9. Affordable—RewardOnline is priced by size of organisation, so smaller firms can afford the same quality as the big MNCs.
  10. Audited annually—each year EY audits 21st Century’s RewardOnline survey and hascertified data integrity (big firms don’t do this)

Club Surveys

Club surveys are custom surveys for associations (e.g. HR or industry associations), industry sectors (e.g. hotels, private schools), or specific occupations (e.g. actuaries). 21st Century runs several club surveys each year in the South Africa region,  and these surveys can easily be replicated for Singapore. Contact Tom Farmer for more information.

Contact 21st CenturyTom Farmer for more information about RewardOnline for Singapore. Or download and share these PDFs with your comp and benefits manager:

Also see RewardOnline Singapore is now live!

Mobility Data

There are four major suppliers of expatriate remuneration data: There are the “big 3”: Mercer (including Mercer ORC), AIR-INC and ECA. In addition, another significant player is 21st CenturyExpat (powered by Expatulator). All four offer the following:

  • Cost of Living Index/Allowance Calculators and Reports
  • Quality of Living/Hardship/Location Evaluation Reports
  • Hypothetical tax calculation on home country income

Generally, the above information is sold as a bundle for a given location or home/host location combination. All of the above sources are reputable and widely used, though there are some differences (in alphabetical order):

  • 21st CenturyExpat is easy and has the essentials to construct a balance sheet. Market basket data is taken from official government statistics, supplemented by local pricing. You choose which of the 13 market baskets to include to generate COL index results.
  • AIR-INC is client focused and easiest to use. They have a nice Host (local) Plus tool and related research on host plus approaches. They have very good global coverage, and directly employ pricing agents.
  • ECA is popular with governments and GLCs and several niche industries. ECA charges by country, not city, so if you purchase China data, you get all of China. ECA has recently introduced a new survey on market pay for expatriates.
  • Mercer is global product focused and has a broad reach. They charge by city, so if you need Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, you will pay for each. Mercer has a powerful new housing solution. Mercer outsources their pricing to independent agents.

While the big 3 have the greatest share of the market, I believe products like 21st CenturyExpat will increase in popularity, especially among smaller but growing global companies that have a more localised mindset and want to avoid big expensive expat populations. The COL indexes provided by the big 3 are mostly tailored to expatriates who have “expatriate” or “convenience” buying patterns. In other words, the allowances are intentionally rich so the expats can continue drinking Starbucks coffee, imported cheeses and sausages, eat at Morton’s steakhouse, buy clothing at LaCoste or Marks & Spencer and getting their groceries at Jason’s or other expat-friendly outlets carrying the brands they have been loyal to their whole lives.

Companies who believe expats shouldn’t be forced to try the local brands and outlets will continue using the expensive COLAs. All the rest should consider using the pure local indexes when setting COLA’s. 21st CenturyExpat provides a “pure local” COL index, which answers the fundamental question employers need to know when compensating expatriates: what’s the difference in cost of goods and services between locations? If you feel this is the only relevant question, and you feel your expats should try local outlets and brands for equivalent market basket items, then you will find all four providers offer this same baseline index. The big three will charge more for it, although they can perhaps provide value in other ways.

For in-depth analysis of expatriate allowances, read my blog Are Your Expatriate Allowances Right? which went viral when I posted it about in July 2013.


Pricing for RewardOnline is dependent on headcount, and is generally well below the cost of the big surveys. 21st CenturyExpat also costs less than the big mobility provider subscriptions. Contact Tom Farmer at Freelance Total Rewards for more information.

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