Fluctuations in the economy, including the Dow Jones' most recent roller coaster ride on Wall Street, have persuaded employers to keep payrolling tight for permanent and contract workers.

However, a recent survey of 773 U.S. companies from global professional services company Towers Watson found employers expect to grant moderate pay increases in 2012. Next year, respondents said that on average payment for salaried employees would increase by 2.8 percent, compared to the 2.6 percent boost experienced this year.

Consistently high performers workers may be awarded substantial pay increases, as respondents reported giving those individuals a 4.5 percent boost this year. Low performing employees say they receive a median pay increase of 1.4 percent.

"Until the economy shows some solid and consistent improvement, most companies are keeping their salary budgets relatively tight," said Laura Sejen, rewards global practice leader at Towers Watson. "At the same time, companies also recognize the need to reward their top performers or risk losing them to competitors."

Employees hoping to boost their income may want to consider developing their emotional intelligence, as another survey from CareerBuilder found 71 percent of employers value EI over a high IQ.

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