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Maybe its time to start reporting the numbers as a range of responses instead of a single average? For example, maybe the best way to report the numbers is like this: (using made up numbers for illustration only)

Budget Population
Change Surveyed
0%-0.9% 30%
1%-1.9% 10%
2%-2.9% 10%
3%-3.9% 30%
4%-4.9% 15%
5%-5.9% 5%
6%-6.9% 0%


Why not both ways? I like having a single average, so I can track changes and trends more easily, but it is also helpful to see response ranges as you provide in your example.


I agree that both numbers, with and without the zeros, are important. I like the idea of having the distribution. So much of the results are dependent on the industry. You've really got to do the homework this year, it's not a normal year for salary increases by any means!


It doesn't seem to be a normal year from a number of angles, does it?

Thanks for the comment and thought!

How about using the median instead of the mean? That would take out the skew of the zeros.


Interesting point. With zeros making up (according to JC and Jim) 30%-40% of the responses, though, I have to think that they are having an impact on the median as well as the mean. Unless I'm missing something ....

No, I believe medians would not affected as are averages by the extremely low scores like zeroes. Makes no difference when you answer the question: "what is the middle number?" whether the 49% below the center are 0% or 1.8% or spread out from at every decimal level... the middle will still be the middle regardless of the size of those in the higher half or the lower half.

If there's a math PhD out there who knows different, please correct me if I'm wrong.

This is why reliability statistics are so important: to show the median, mean and mode and standard deviation; so you know what the numbers really mean. As Benjamin Disraeli famously said, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics."

This post (as well as the reader responses) are very timely. Thanks!

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    Compensation consultant Ann Bares is the Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group. Ann has more than 20 years of experience consulting with organizations in the areas of compensation and performance management.

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