THE days of double-digit salary increases may be coming to an end as employers look to rein in the strong wage growth of the last three years, according to the 2015 Robert Half Salary Guide.

The study, released on Thursday, reported that wage increases for employees in three areas - finance and accounting, banking and financial services, and technology - are likely to be below 10 per cent, compared to previous years' increments.

Stella Tang, managing director of Robert Half Singapore, attributed the change to companies becoming more cost conscious. Instead, companies are opting to offer non-financial incentives to attract and retain employees.

"In the modern workforce, cash salaries are just one aspect of an employment package, albeit the most important one," she said.

"Companies are increasingly likely to offer employees a package that includes benefits such as flexible work arrangements, performance bonuses, mentoring and international opportunities."

While wage growth is slowing, the number of companies making new hires is increasing and is now at its highest level in three years, the report found.

Half of all companies surveyed plan to raise headcount in the first half of the year. Two years ago, this percentage was closer to a third.

The most significant increase in hiring activity is for technology professionals. Two years ago, 26 per cent of companies were looking to employ more IT staff, compared to 50 per cent this year.

This surge in demand has been linked to the numerous high profile cyberattacks on companies in recent years, causing organisations to focus on securing their IT infrastructure.

Because of this demand, technology roles in business analysis, IT audit and risk, as well as IT business development can expect above average salary increases this year, Ms Tang said.

In the finance and accounting sector, more companies are opting for permanent accounting and compliance professionals, rather than outsourcing to consulting firms.

In the banking and financial services sector, employment activity has risen steadily in the last two years, with companies seeking to fill mid-level and senior positions.

There is also an increasing demand for people with skills to manage the credit exposure of banks and insurance companies, the report noted.

Compared to other regional financial centres, Singapore is among the most active hiring markets for accounting and finance professionals, behind China (59 per cent), and on par with Hong Kong (53 per cent).

Japan currently has only 39 per cent of companies seeking to add permanent employees.

Nevertheless, the local employment market is still very competitive, with businesses having more stringent hiring requirements, according to Lee Fook Chiew, chief executive officer of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants (ISCA).

"In an increasingly challenging and complex business environment, businesses are always on the lookout for capable talents to be strategic partners to their senior management," he said.

The surveys were conducted in December 2014 and the guide was completed January 2015; it covers four markets: Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, and Shanghai. One hundred and fifty CFOs and finance leaders in the commerce industry were surveyed, as well as 150 financial services leaders in the banking sector. Of the respondents, 100 were CIOs (chief information officers).