IRF Invitational: Incentives Must Get With the Times

Adapting to changing demographics was an important theme woven throughout last week’s Incentive Research Foundation Invitational. An open space meeting held on Friday, April 29, at Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, allowed participants to choose what they wanted to discuss—and every topic they picked had to do with generational differences and how they affect incentives. (See our online photo gallery of the event here.)

Among the trends attendees are seeing:

  • The “gamification” of incentives and teambuilding. Younger generations have grown up in front of a screen and are accustomed to being entertained while they learn (some starting in elementary school with educational video games). Weaving gaming into training and online incentive programs has been identified as a leading-edge trend in IRF research.
  • Traditional incentive activities are passé. One incentive company reported that during a recent 800-person program, only 12 attendees chose to play golf. Most younger attendees don’t have time for or don’t have an interest in golf. For those that do, the solution is to offer nine-hole outings in place of all-day golf events.
  • Corporate social responsibility is an expectation. The IRF hosted a CSR activity on the first day (sponsored by Impact Incentives and the Monaco Government Tourist Office), in which attendees brought school supplies to donate to local children.
  • Wellness incentives are hot. Younger generations are motivated by good health. Wellness can be woven into incentive trips through food and beverage choices and activities, and tied into company-wide programs.
  • Diversity must be considered when planning incentives. Planners need to add more activities geared toward gay participants. For example, one incentive firm runs a program where 40 percent of the attendees are same-sex couples.
  • Companies not using social media are missing out. The group agreed, however, that it makes sense to choose one outlet, such as blogging, and do it well, than to dabble in a little of everything.

    The Incentive Research Foundation’s Incentive Invitational is held annually and supports the organization’s many research efforts.—Barbara Scofidio

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