Internal and External Equity Comparison

Updated on September 30, 2014

Equity Pay

The internal and external analysis allows an organization to evaluate the compensation plan based on the fairness of employee compensation. The impact of the internal and external forces is important when dealing with pay structure. Equity pay is ensuring that all parties involved are receiving the same benefits based on the internal and external factors.

Internal checklist


Internal Influences

Internal influences involve employees doing the same job, a difference in job responsibilities, or even a specific department but for the same company. The structured pay scale could reflect the highest pay grade at the top and the lowest pay grade at the bottom based on job responsibility. The pay scale allows the employee to view the benefits he or she will receive in relation to the responsibility given. Fair pay and work conditions are an important factor to employees and influence the morale and employee response. According to Martocchio (2008), “Job evaluation is key for casting internally consistent compensation systems as strategic tools. Compensation professionals use job evaluation to establish pay differentials among employees within the company”. The evaluation outlines differences and similarities in job responsibilities, this can be described in the experience level, performance, and knowledge. Internal equity ensures that fairness is throughout the organization based on similar responsibilities.

External Influences

Understanding the external influences is just as important as the internal factors. An evaluation of external factors allows the organization to remain competitive in the market. Organizations are competing to attain the best employees to help their company grow. In turn pay is taken into consideration to compete with other similar organizations. The external wage comparisons can be the same union, geographical area, job similarity, certifications, or the size of the company. Human Resource Managers is responsible to assess the outside competition properly in regard to the above mentioned to maintain a competitive advantage with similar companies. An employee looking to join the organization can easily find the mean or medium pay based on the geographical area and job description. An evaluation of the marketing prices can also be used to retain the employees already on staff. Competitive business will seek out employees from other company, so it is important to ensure that the organization does not allow the competition to steal their employees. This is referred to as poaching or raiding.



Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of internal and external factors are an important tool used to define and implement a solid base pay, cash compensation, or benefits. Internal equity allows the organization to warrant an equal pay among the employees based on the pay scale or performance. The disadvantage of internal equity is the perception of the employees. An employee can perceive that he or she is doing the same job as another employee and should receive the same pay. Perception of employees may differ from the perception of the employers. The employee may feel that his or her individual performance is the same or above in comparison to the employees who are performing. It creates tension and lowers morale within the workplace. External equity advantages allow the organization to remain competitive for sought out profession or geographical area.

The disadvantages of external equities are the cost to remain in a competitive market. There seems to be no set preference in which factors is more important whether it is internal or external equity. It is still undecided on which is the most important between internal and external equity and there is no right or wrong answer (Kent Romanoffken, 1986, p. 8, Balancing external and internal equity). Finding a balance and ensuring that the internal and external equities in the organization is important. A fair and honest compensation policy that is communicated to the employees which define the value and worth of an employee is best. The external and internal compensation plan should meet the organizational goals will create the culture it seeks.

Federal Workers

Compensation is an important tool that is used by the government to attract employees who have the skill, knowledge, and experience that can meet the strategic goals of the organization. Total compensation includes salary and benefits. The government uses a pay scale focusing on levels of position, skills, and qualifications. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.), “A number of different pay systems are used for Federal employment; however, the General Schedule (GS), the Federal Wage System (FWS), the Senior Executive Service (SES), or the Administratively Determined (AD) covers most employees within HHS” (Salary Information). The internal quality is achieved by providing pay structure that is constant and uniformed within the organization. Other benefits such as retirement, health benefits, leave, and life insurance are offered to all the employees. It allows an organization to offer the employees pay and benefits that meet internal equality and compete with private organizations.


KENT ROMANOFFKEN, B. B. (1986). Pay eguity: Internal and external considerations. Compensation and Benefits Review (1986-1998), 18(3), 17. Retrieved from

Martocchio, J.J. (2008). Strategic Compensation: A Human Resource Management Approach (5th ed.).

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.). Pay and Benefits. Retrieved from

In other words

Internal and external equity is important to remain competitive with other organizations, attract the right employees, and retaining the employees in the company. There is no right or wrong focus but the best option is to have a balance when focusing on internal and external motives. A structured and clear benefits plan offered in the organization could limit confusion of the employees of worth and value.


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