BOSSES are gearing up for a hiring binge this year, with indicators that job creation will be at levels not seen for more than a decade.

A new survey has found that 62 per cent of 450 executives polled here expect to increase headcount after a couple of lean years of scaling back.

This would be the highest level of hiring expectation recorded here in 11 years, according to recruitment firm Hudson, which conducts the quarterly survey to compile The Hudson Report.

Employers are also enhancing talent retention schemes in a bid to keep their staff loyal amid a booming job market.

Monetary incentives remained a popular strategy, employed by 56 per cent of the respondents.

But Hudson noted that there has been a marked increase in the popularity of work-life balance incentives – 48 per cent of the respondents now offer these, compared with 25 per cent in the first quarter of last year.

The information technology and financial services sectors are driving the demand for new talent, Hudson said.

Among the IT firms polled, 72 per cent said they expected to increase their headcount this quarter, especially in sales, marketing and business development.

“Many of the positions that disappeared during the economic downturn are now being filled again,” Hudson said in its report.

Among financial services firms, 67 per cent expected to recruit new talent, especially in specialised fields such as risk management and legal issues.

Mr Tim Hird, managing director for Singapore and Japan at human resource consultancy Robert Half, added that the demand for IT and finance professionals is sometimes intertwined.

“Demand for back-office support and infrastructure is driven by many institutions looking to increase their private wealth management and front-office groups,” he said.

Swiss private bank UBS is among those seeking to boost its headcount.

“In the medium term, we expect to grow the number of client advisers in the Asia-Pacific from 900 to 1,200,” said Ms Moira Roberts, UBS head of human resources in Singapore.

UBS is also expanding numbers under its graduate training programme by 213 per cent and its summer internship scheme by 53 per cent this year.

Deutsche Bank is courting more experienced, senior-level relationship managers as it aims to double its private wealth management business by 2012.

“We have more than 220 relationship bankers among a total staff of close to 700 in the region, and we plan to continually add over 30 relationship managers every year over the next two years,” said the bank’s head of private wealth management in the Asia-Pacific, Mr Ravi Raju.

Meanwhile, expectations among manufacturing and industrial companies have greatly improved over the past year, Hudson said, with 61 per cent looking to hire new staff this quarter compared with 47 per cent in the last quarter.

Besides hiring new talent, more employers are also rewarding existing staff with bonuses this quarter.

Across all the sectors surveyed, 87 per cent of respondents say they will pay discretionary year-end bonuses for 2010, up from 74 per cent last year. However, the bonus payments companies plan to pay out are still at around last year’s levels.

Nonetheless, salaries are on the rise, with 91 per cent of the respondents saying they plan to increase salaries for existing managerial staff this year.

Still, few are planning large increments, with more than half expecting to pay rises in the 4 per cent to 6 per cent range and only 5 per cent saying they will boost salaries by 10 per cent or more.

Robert Half’s Mr Hird noted this might not hold true for the finance and accounting sectors: Salaries for professionals in these industries could increase as much as 20 per cent to 25 per cent, he said.