Incentive programs more important than ever, says IRF trends report

i By February 11, 2022 No Comments

Incentive programs will be more important than ever as companies navigate pandemic-induced workplace challenges including continued uncertainty, more employees working remotely, and “The Great Resignation,” reports the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) in its recently-released 2022 trends report.

“Pandemic-related challenges continue to impact the incentives industry into 2022. Dramatic hiring shifts are driving companies to examine how to be even more competitive in the job market, and a robust incentive program is an important part of a company’s full benefits package,” said Stephanie Harris, president, IRF. “The IRF 2022 Trends Report addresses how adaptation, flexibility, and communication will continue to be key as companies weigh their options about bringing employees together, whether it’s opening the office or traveling on an incentive trip.”

The top trends for incentive, reward and recognition programs in 2022 include:

Incentive programs are expanding reach and building company culture: As companies strive to retain and hire talent, incentive programs are expanding their reach to motivate the maximum number of employees and partners. Programs need to make participants feel connected to the company, with the focus on post-pandemic, culture-building company goals.

Incentive travel remains a priority: Incentive program owners and participants are willing to navigate uncertainty, travel restrictions, testing, and shifting protocols for an incentive trip. The IRF’s June 2021 study reported group incentive travel awards are considered “very” or “extremely” motivating by 80 percent of survey respondents.

Motivating a remote workforce: With a remote workforce, fostering a feeling of connectedness is an important part of any incentive program. Well-designed programs will link employee decisions, behaviors, and actions to the firm’s pandemic recovery strategy and priorities.

New dimensions of personalization: Participants experience greater personalization in day-to-day shopping experiences, and they expect the same from their incentive programs. Individual preferences and comfort levels will need to be addressed for the remote workforce, employees returning to the office, and incentive trip winners who may have not traveled for many months.

Workforce, inventory and supply chain disruptions: Incentive programs have been impacted by factors such as compression of hotel inventory, availability of merchandise, price increases, and a reduced workforce. Incentive program owners are focused on setting expectations for program participants and company leadership.

The IRF’s research advocacy partner is One10. To view or download a copy of the full report, visit The IRF 2022 Trends Report webpage.