Skip navigation

Update Your Playbook for Hiring Incentive and Meeting Planning Talent

A new study from the Incentive Research Foundation provides useful recommendations for finding applicants and understanding their priorities.

With incentive and meeting teams continuing to experience post-pandemic staff shortages, the Incentive Research Foundation went to work to find out more about the challenges of hiring and retaining talent. Its new report looks at potential recruits’ impressions of meeting and incentive careers, their job-selection priorities, and how they’re looking for work.

The recently published analysis, The Future of the Incentives Industry Workforce, draws its conclusions from three sources: an employer survey (97 respondents), a worker/job seeker survey (372 respondents), and 10 in-depth interviews with industry professionals.

The 19-page report includes both statistics and useful recommendations that can help guide an organization’s recruitment efforts.

The study documents a known hurdle to bringing on newcomers: The career has a low profile. A full 52 percent of job seekers answered “none” when asked to what extent they knew about career opportunities in the incentives industry. Another 20 percent answered “low.” Meetings and events careers are slightly better recognized: Just 30 percent answered “none” and 27 percent said “low.”

When asked what they thought were the biggest barriers to recruitment, more than half of workers and job seekers said they believe incentive companies would not provide competitive pay. Low pay is also the top of concern for people considering a job in corporate meetings and events. In the full list of potential barriers below, the percentages relate to the portion of survey respondents who agree that something is a barrier to recruitment for them. (Percentages for the incentive industry are first, followed by meetings industry in parenthesis.)
• Pay, including bonuses, is not competitive: 54% (43%)
• Less job security: 36% (30%)
• Other benefits (health insurance, paid time off, etc.) are not competitive: 33% (25%)
• Challenging work environment (hours, physical demands, etc.): 31% (40%)
• Less flexibility around hybrid and remote work options, hours, etc.: 26% (33%)
• Less room for career growth: 24% (23%)
• Less awareness of the industry: 24% (25%)
• Less interesting work: 18% (22%)

On the flip side, the IRF study looked at what attracted people to the industry and found some key opportunities for recruiters to exploit in the hiring process.

When potential employees were asked what they found most attractive about joining the incentives industry, the top answer was “designing creative incentives that motivate people” (see chart from the IRF report below) followed by the opportunity for international travel. On the meeting and events side, international travel was the most alluring part of the job, followed by “designing creative events or meetings.”
Screen Shot 2023-04-28 at 11.44.11 AM.png
Screen Shot 2023-04-28 at 11.44.34 AM.pngThe IRF boiled down its findings into a list of recommendations for employers. In short, recruiting companies need to get creative with their outreach to potential job seekers. The study suggests working with high school and college career centers and attending job fairs; considering alternative sources of talent, including non-college graduates and retirees; building channels to diverse student populations; and creating employee-referral programs. (The report includes a section on how to design one.)

Once engaged with job seekers, the report recommends playing to the industry’s strengths as well as adapting to the concerns and needs of a changing workforce. Among the guidance:
• Highlight the opportunity for creative and interesting work as well as the chance for travel.
• Audit compensation and rewards packages to ensure that they are competitive.
• Consider flexible schedules and hybrid work arrangements.
• Develop clear career paths and opportunities for advancement.

The free report is available here and a live webinar discussing the study will be held Wednesday, May 3, featuring IRF President Stephanie Harris, and a panel of industry professionals.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.