by Leo Jakobson | July 27, 2018
Too many managers of incentive, reward and recognition programs do not know of professional organizations offering support and education. As a result, many lack the expertise these groups can impart.

That is the finding of Part 2 of the Incentive Research Foundation's (IRF) "Voice of the Marketplace" study, released on July 25. The study was based on in-depth interviews with 50 corporate incentive planners of programs big and small. Part 1 found that these managers are strong believers in the value and efficacy on non-cash incentive programs.

But there are "glaring gaps in the use of education resources and benchmarking data by owners and managers of these programs," the study found. One major cause of this is that many do not know that industry organizations like the IRF, the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (Site), the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and recognition Professionals International (RPI), among others. As a result they are missing out on the educational resources, advice and accumulated knowledge these and other group can provide.

"Once program managers engage with individuals and organizations specialized in incentives and recognition, they place a high value on the education and networking resources they receive," said Melissa Van Dyke, president of the IRF. "Voice of the Market, Part 2 tells us loud and clear that as an industry, we need to do a better job of more readily supporting program managers on the front lines running these programs."

Among the problems were that incentives and recognition are not included in business school curriculums; most people entering the workforce don't know that a career in the incentive, reward and recognition field is available; and resources are hard to find online with knowledge of the best search terms.

The study ends with a call to action, challenging the industry to "to raise awareness and seek engagement," the study said. Information and expertise are the initial opportunities for the industry to engage, with potential longer-term opportunities to partner more significantly on execution and fulfilment."