In the new year, Los Angeles companies plan to raise compensation levels for employees, increase initial salary offers and provide more flexible work arrangements, according to a survey released Thursday by and America Online.

The companies' "Los Angeles Hiring in 2006" survey found that 82 percent of hiring managers in L.A. plan to increase pay for existing employees next year. Fifty-nine percent will raise compensation levels by 3 percent or more and 23 percent will raise levels by 5 percent or more.

Also, slightly more than half of hiring managers anticipated increasing salaries on initial offers, with 38 percent expecting to raise offers by 3 percent or higher and 21 percent by 5 percent or more.

Nearly a quarter of hiring managers were concerned about the potential shortage of skilled workers and intellectual capital that could be lost when aging Baby Boomers retire. An even greater number 44 percent said they planned to recruit retirees from other companies or offer incentives for workers at or approaching retirement age to extend their employment.

About 29 percent of the hiring managers said they will be more willing to allow employees to telecommute from home to lessen the effects of rising energy costs; 39 percent said they will be more willing to provide flexible work arrangements such as job-sharing and alternate schedules.

The top skills hiring managers in L.A. will be looking for in potential candidates include customer service, team-building ability, and problem solving and decision making. About 34 percent reported that they would be placing a greater emphasis on recruiting bilingual employees.

The survey was conducted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 12 and culled from responses from more than 100 hiring managers in Los Angeles.

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