Incentive Programs Remain A Priority Says IRF Survey

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently conducted its second “pulse” survey about the impact of COVID-19 on the incentives industry. “COVID-19's Impact on Reward & Recognition” reports how employee and channel reward recognition programs have changed in response to the pandemic.

“Reward and recognition programs play a vital role in helping to maintain employees’ focus and energy during difficult times,” says Stephanie Harris, IRF president. “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.”

A high level of stability for incentive programs was reported, with more than 65 percent of respondents indicating their programs are viewed as strategically relevant by senior management—and 12.5 percent indicating their programs are viewed as more strategically relevant now than prior to the pandemic.

The survey also found that over half of respondents indicated that programs remained intact (53 percent) and budgets for these programs have largely been protected, with more than half (56 percent) reporting no budget change. However, program owners indicated they are continuing 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 or revenue retention.

With travel down, there has been 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. While just over half (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.”

To download a copy of the report, click here.

filed under June 2020
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