IF you're currently working in the retail line in Singapore, you can expect a greater boost in your salary next year.

According to new findings by global professional services firm Towers Watson, retail employees are on track for a 4.5 per cent pay increase in 2016, higher than the 4.1 per cent jump they got this year. This will also be the largest wage increment of any sector here in 2016.

After retail, the next two sectors that will see healthy salary increases next year are the high-tech and professional services industries, which are expected to rise by 4.3 per cent and 3.9 per cent, respectively (up from 4 per cent and 3.7 per cent in 2015).

These latest numbers come a week after Towers Watson released its latest Asia-Pacific salary budget planning report, a bi-annual survey conducted in July involving 2,000 responses from 22 countries in the region.

Among the many sectors polled were automotive, chemical, financial services, energy and natural resources, media, pharmaceutical and health sciences.

Overall, Towers Watson said that salary budgets in Singapore are set to go up by 4.4 per cent in 2016. However, this drops to 2.9 per cent once inflation is accounted for.

The average increase for the region is 6.8 per cent, slightly higher than 6.6 per cent in 2015. But again, once inflation is factored in, the number falls to 3.4 per cent next year, compared to 4.1 per cent this year.

In 17 of the 22 Asia-Pacific markets covered by the survey, employees will go home with a smaller pay packet next year, the survey found.

The projected 4.4 per cent salary increase in Singapore in 2016 is a shade less than Hong Kong's 4.5 per cent.

In East and South-east Asia, the biggest overall increases for 2016 will be in Vietnam (10.4 per cent), Indonesia (9.4 per cent) and China (8 per cent), all of which will be higher than in 2015.

However, once inflation is thrown into the equation, the real increases in these countries drop to 5.6, 3.9 and 5.8 per cent, respectively.

At the bottom of the scale is Japan, where bosses are likely to hand out a 2.4 per cent increment to their workers, or 0.9 per cent in real terms.

In Singapore, those deemed as "high performers" at their workplace can expect to see a 5.5 per cent increase in their pay in 2016, compared to "above-average" and "average" performers who will likely get 4.5 per cent and 4 per cent hikes, respectively.

This, said Towers Watson, indicated that employers in Singapore still place a heavy emphasis on individual performance when making salary decisions.

Companies across the region "need to be smart" about how they use limited salary budgets because high volatility and talent crunches are causing frequent shifts to pay, said Sambhav Rakyan, the data services practice leader for Asia-Pacific at Towers Watson.

"Determining current pay rates for jobs in Asia-Pacific's highly competitive talent market is akin to shooting at a moving target. What companies pay for a job today might be different tomorrow, and if managers don't keep an eye on the market, they could risk losing valuable talent to the competition," he added.

The move to reward employees based on their performance is a huge incentive and it also reflects the growing market maturity and shows the rising competition for talent, said Mr Rakyan.

He stressed the need for employers to have a good evaluation system and a transparent communication plan to help staff understand their value within the company.

"Organisations need to have open lines of communication about pay, and take an active role in helping employees understand the rationale behind pay decisions," said Mr Rakyan.