Do you want the OK news first or the bad news first?

How about we try to stay somewhat positive out of the gates. ASA recently released findings from its second special compensation/benefits study that it commissioned business intelligence partner Industry Insights to conduct in the latter part of 2021.

This new study, which covers the time period Sept. 1-Nov. 30, 2021, is a mixed bag when it comes to the labor market. On the OK news side, more than half of survey respondents (53%) felt the labor market has remained the same over those three months, coming after more than half felt the labor shortage had worsened over the three months prior to that, Industry Insights reports.

Over the next three months, 61% feel the challenging labor market will remain the same and another 25% feel the shortage will worsen.

Looking even further ahead, over the next six months, 40% of respondents feel the labor shortage will improve, while 63% are optimistic conditions will improve over the next 12 months, though 27% feel the labor shortage will remain the same. Another 10% of respondents feel it will worsen.

The new study also focuses on inside and outside salespeople and showroom personnel. When it comes to the labor market, nearly one-third of respondents reported no difficulty or mild difficulty recruiting sales positions for that September-November timeframe.

Additionally, half the firms that responded to the survey reported turnover and quit rates of zero percent and the average turnover and quit rates of about 4% and 3% respectively, well-below the national averages of 12.4% (turnover) and 8.8% (quit).

Those numbers are good, but 37% of respondents reported significant difficulty recruiting sales positions over the past three months and another 7% reported extreme difficulty.

In terms of hiring/retention strategies on the sales side: Above-market pay, incentive compensation and flexible work schedules ranked as the top three tools. Added vacation days/PTO finished just out of the top three.

One other thing that caught my eye with this survey: Two-thirds of respondents report they conduct exit interviews when an employee leaves. The primary reason given for leaving was pay. Other common reasons, according to respondents, were better career opportunities or opportunities for growth elsewhere.

When it comes to effective recruitment strategies: respondent successes include referral programs/bonuses, recruiters/placement services, online ads, and above-market salaries. Other popular responses include increasing wages, social media marketing and word-of-mouth marketing.

All respondents received a complimentary copy of the study. If you are an ASA member and would like to purchase a copy, contact me at The cost for ASA members is $299 and $699 for non-ASA members. The first study, which focuses more on drivers, warehouse workers and counter employees, also is available. If you did not submit data for that first study, it also can be purchased for $299 (ASA members) or $699 (non-ASA members).

Biannual cross-industry compensation study

ASA is in the midst of collecting data for the massive biannual cross industry compensation study it participates in.

This study gives ASA members a more overall distribution-oriented portrait of compensation and benefit levels. Also conducted by Industry Insights, this study will feature data from 21 distributor/wholesaler associations.

In 2020 during the thick of the pandemic, 23 distribution-related associations and 905 distribution companies representing more than 10,000 locations participated in the study.

To submit your data for the cross-industry compensation study, log on to