Helping a charity to be astutely competitive in the job market

Care Ashore​​​​​​​ - Salary benchmarking​​​​​​​

“Morale had to be rebuilt within a very overstretched team at Care Ashore. They were operating with many gaps in the ranks, so there was extra workload and a lack of any reward and performance process, particularly one that allowed two-way feedback or demonstrated that salaries were fairly benchmarked to the outside world. Putting this right involved both recruitment and a salary review, to which Nicola’s benchmarking was central. It demonstrated that a new trustee leadership took staff issues seriously with action as well as words.”

David Harvey, Interim CEO, Care Ashore


Care Ashore serves all seafarers, fishermen and their dependents in need, by providing sheltered housing with support and holiday accommodation on its extensive Springbok Estate in rural Surrey. The charity also manages a number of commercial activities, including property rental, farm rental, camping and caravanning, fishing, clay pigeon shooting and guest rooms, to generate income to subsidise the cost of services offered to seafarers, and to support capital projects on site.

In 2020 we carried out a root and branch review of the charity, resulting in a rebuilding of the Board and the appointment of a new Chief Executive. Nearly four years on, the Chief Executive role was vacant again, with Action Planning Associate Consultant David Harvey standing in as interim CEO on three days a week.

David, working with David Saint, who had long-term involvement, had identified that Care Ashore were “in a pickle from a number of perspectives”. One of these was a number of junior staff vacancies, which was causing service and morale issues within the organisation. Due to the charity being located some miles away from anywhere, it was thought that recruitment may be harder than for potential competitors, so we were asked to carry out some salary benchmarking to make sure that the salaries offered were competitive. 

In all we were asked to benchmark 17 roles, ranging from Chief Executive to Gardener, Chef and Admin Assistant. Action Planning Associate Consultant Nicola Ford was assigned to the task. She began by researching each role to ascertain a job description in each case and then used the Cendex Job Levels and Function breakdown to determine the appropriate level for each role.

Nicola then entered the data into the Cendex platform, applying a number of parameters to hone the data produced. For example, due to the remote location the roles were benchmarked against roles located around the UK, excluding London.

The levels and functions were split into specific categories, ranging from routine task for the lower-level roles (Gardener, Housekeeper) to professional level 4 (supervisory or professional/technical specialist) roles (Accounts Manager). Each Role was benchmarked using these criteria.

Nicola researched the current job market by inputting the job titles into three job site search engines and finding roles that best fitted the Care Ashore job descriptions that she had researched originally. From this research Nicola was able to identify a minimum and maximum salary offered in the open job market, and the benefits typically being offered for each role. This data was then compared against the current salaries and benefits at Care Ashore. 

Nicola produced a summary identifying whether each Care Ashore role was above, below or in line with current average salaries. Her report highlighted that most of the Care Ashore roles and responsibilities were broadly in line with what was currently being advertised on the open market, but average salaries were below Cendex benchmark data. There was already a proposed pay increase for all staff, which would go some way to bridging the gap.

Action Planning was subsequently commissioned to support Care Ashore with the recruitment of a new Chief Executive.

Consultant’s Insight
Salary benchmarking provides a comprehensive analysis of the current compensation landscape, offering valuable insights for organisations seeking to align their remuneration strategies with industry standards. By examining market trends, competitor practices and regional variations, this exercise can be a strategic tool for decision-makers to make informed choices regarding employee compensation and so that they are more in line with current salaries, which will help to attract and retain the top talent.

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