IRF survey finds incentive programs stable and flexible

i By June 26, 2020 No Comments

Incentive programs are holding strong against the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, according to the second “pulse survey” on the impact of COVID-19 on the incentives industry conducted by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF).

“Reward and recognition programs play a vital role in helping to maintain employees’ focus and energy during difficult times,” said Stephanie Harris, president, IRF. “This survey demonstrates that many incentive programs are performing well due to thoughtful shifts in programs that ensure relevance to participants today and help drive faster recovery for their organization.”

The survey revealed a high level of stability for incentive programs, with more than 65 percent of respondents indicating their programs are viewed as strategically relevant by senior management and 12.5 percent indicating their program is viewed as more strategically relevant now than prior to the current pandemic.

Other key findings in COVID-19’s Impact on Rewards & Recognition include:

  • 53 percent of respondents report that their incentive programs have remained intact, and budgets for these programs have largely been protected with 56 percent reporting no budget change.
  • program owners indicated they continue to adapt their programs to ensure relevancy, shifting the focus to whatever is critical within the organization—growth-oriented objectives, safety-oriented objectives, health and well-being objectives, revenue retention.
  • the decrease in travel has resulted in an increase in the use of gift cards, with six percent of respondents indicating they have added cards to their programs and nearly 20 percent noting increased use.
  • 54 percent of respondents indicated they were not concerned about the optics of operating an incentives program in a declining economy
  • 31 percent of respondents who cancelled or put their program on hold cited “perception concerns from leadership relative to economic conditions

About the survey

The IRF fielded the survey from May 11 to May 30, 2020. Its mandate was to understand the impact COVID-19 is having on employee and channel reward and recognition programs. A total of 177 respondents completed the survey. Thirty percent of these respondents represent third party reward and recognition providers, 25 percent executive leadership, 14 percent HR professionals, 12 percent sales professionals and four percent administrative professionals. The remaining 15 percent included a variety of titles that manage reward and recognition programs.