If you're budgeting 3 percent raises for the majority of your workforce, you're in good company, because 3 percent is the new pay raise standard.

That's what an annual compensation survey by Towers Watson reported. Those who make the annual salary decisions are planning to hand out 3 percent raises to most employees next year — the same amount budgeted for 2015 and for 2014. Meantime, company recruiters are asking the spending planners to give them more flexibility in recruiting and retaining top talent as the battle for all-star performers continues to rage.

The wage differential for executives and nonexempt salaried and hourly isn't much: executives should look for a 3.1 percent raise in their first paycheck in 2016, compared to 3 percent for the troops. Just about every company (98 percent) is planning on giving raises next year.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.