SI Review: November 2011


Research Report: Better Times, Better Pay

Better Times, Better Pay

Total executive compensation rises by median 25 percent

You could tell the staffing industry was recovering in 2010, as top executives’ total compensation jumped considerably from 2009. Total compensation for top staffing executives at publicly traded firms in the United States rose by a median 24.9 percent, according to a report by Equilar, an executive compensation data firm, that conducted the analysis on behalf of Staffing Industry Analysts, the publisher of this magazine.

The report looked at the two highest-paid executives at 30 publicly traded staffing firms. The list was then narrowed to those executives who had been at their firms for two full years, so a year-over-year comparison could be seen.

Executives hadn’t fared as well in similar reports from previous years. The top executives recorded a decline in total compensation of a median 10.2 percent in 2009 and a decline of a median 14.0 percent in 2008. However, total compensation rose by 15.6 percent in 2007.

An entirely separate survey of staffing executives, mostly from smaller and midsize firms, was conducted by Staffing Industry Analysts in 2010. According to that survey, median compensation for founders/CEOs was $141,220, while it was $143,020 for vice presidents of sales. The balance of respondents in the survey explains the difference in CEO and sales execs’ pay. A greater share of sales executives responding to the study came from larger staffing firms, while the mix of respondents in the CEO category was more representative of smaller firms.

Compensation Components

Total compensation in the Equilar report encompasses more than just base salary. Components of total compensation include:

• Base salary
• Bonuses, which include discretionary payments not linked to performance, such as signing awards
• Non-equity incentive plan payments, which includes performance-based cash payouts
• Stock awards/Stock options
• Other pay, which include perquisites such as use of a company plane, insurance premiums or financial planning assistance

Non-salary items can be substantial. Overall, total median compensation at the 30 public companies was $1.02 million, while median base pay was $382,231.

Craig Johnson is managing editor, staffing publications, at Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at For more information on staffing buyer research, contact

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