SOURCE: The Incentive Research Foundation

March 07, 2012 17:11 ET

Participation & Personalization: Mobile Apps, Wellness Incentives, Gift Cards Head the List of 2012 Incentive Trends, Says IRF

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Mar 7, 2012) - The Incentive Research Foundation's (IRF) newly released executive briefing, 2012 Trends in Rewards and Recognition, reveals that businesses will be emphasizing "individualization" in their motivation programs this year. Specific trends include:

  • Personalization. Increased use of gift cards and award elements that allow employees to do their own "discounted" shopping during the redemption process.
  • Participation. Non-cash incentive programs that can increase wellness participation by 26% to 90%, returning more than $3 for every $1 invested.
  • Convenience. Integrating mobile applications into all phases of incentive program communications to keep employees connected 24/7.

As the IRF looked toward 2012 and beyond, it analyzed existing research, scanned incentive industry and business publications, and sought input from industry leaders. "We reviewed both our own trends data and a host of other leading sources through the prism of the changes taking hold in the business world to determine the implications for the incentive and recognition industry," says IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. She indicated that the IRF's findings revealed a dozen trends, highlighted in the 2012 Trends in Rewards and Recognition briefing paper. To read the full white paper, go to:

Here are the highlights:

  • 'Fast HR' - The most significant observation is the unprecedented rate of change that will pave the way for more flexible approaches and faster responses to the management of people, says Van Dyke. Reward and recognition programs have a key role in Fast HR because they can be quickly recalibrated to meet employee needs faster and with greater ease and precision than conversional compensation structures.
  • Get Into 'Gamification' - Incorporating the principles of game design into the structure of reward & recognition programs and meetings will be a key trend in 2012 and beyond.
  • We're All Marketers - New research has confirmed that people -- their actions and their attitudes -- play a significant role in maintaining the value of the brand. As service becomes the "killer app," aligning employee behavior through rewards has increased importance in reducing customer defection and optimizing their lifetime values.
  • It's Time to Repair Cultures - Deep cost cutting during the earliest days of the recession along with reduced resources moving forward has damaged the cooperative nature of some workplaces. With up to 74 percent of the work force open to considering a new job, organizations need to recapture the cultural conditions that made them an "employer of choice."
  • Virtual Workplaces - More than 75% of businesses use some form of social networking to connect their people, so they need to ensure all technology-based reward and recognition programs are integrated into social media sites.
  • Convergence - Role convergence is causing the average worker to do more work and put in more unpaid time. Organizations also expect more from their technologies. Efficiency is a big driver of effectiveness. Applications in the incentive industry must be easy to implement and integrate seamlessly into the organizations workflow.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility - Sustainability has officially reached a tipping point in business with most organizations considering it in their strategy. Planners and practitioners alike need to ensure program components are in line with their corporate values and initiatives.

About the IRF
The Incentive Research Foundation funds and promotes independent research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance. For more information, and to download IRF research, please visit

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jon Lieb