Year in Review: 4 Discoveries from the 2013 Incentive Federation Study


Anyone familiar with the Incentives Industry will recognize and understand the prestige of the Incentive Federation Inc. (IFI) – a collection of organizations who consistently take the pulse of the industry. The IFI publishes an annual report at the end of each year to summarize their findings, based on surveys with those who do business in the industry, to keep all interested parties in the loop. There’s no better way to close out 2013 than with a summary of where our industry is at after another prosperous year.

Those who seek improvements in the performance of their business through motivated people, increased in employee engagement, improved customer loyalty, and strengthened channel sales revenues, should take notice of this study’s results. This 2013 research, which surveyed 2,000 business executives, is rather fascinating.

1.       The Incentives Industry is massive – Over $263 billion by some estimates

A 2011 report entitled “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy” estimated the direct spending of the meetings industry alone to be $263 billion. Further, the new IFI study measured non-cash incentive programs including merchandise or gift cards to be valued at $54.3 billion per year, incentive travel spending at $22.6 billion. Together, these segments compile a $76.9 billion sum for the Incentives Industry.

2.       Companies that do not allocate budget to non-cash awards might be behind the competition

56% of companies use non-cash incentives for non-sales employees, leaving the 44% who do not in the minority of the population. Other statistics of note include: 46% use non-cash incentives for sales incentive programs, 32% for customer loyalty and retention programs, and 26% for channel sales programs. These numbers really underscore how important non-cash incentives are when you consider that these strong figures are occurring in conjunction with economic challenges.

3.       Small firms (annual revenue between $1 million and $10 million) account for half of the non-cash industry spending

If your company is categorized as a “small” firm (86% of US companies are in this category), then it’s important to understand that industry giants and Fortune 500 entities are not the only businesses benefiting from non-cash incentive programs. In fact, smaller companies see some of the best return-on-investment on incentive programs, including travel, reward cards, merchandise, and points-based campaigns. Devoting more resources to employee motivation, incentives, rewards, and awards can help your organization reach new levels of productivity and profitability.

4.       Experiential/Adventure Travel will revolutionize the future of the Incentive Travel Industry

Though you may have never heard of experiential travel or adventure travel, it is being used for 30% of customer loyalty travel incentives, 25% of channel and employee travel incentives, and 20% of sales travel incentives. Renowned industry blogger Kevin J. Wright says Adventure Travel has been growing over 65% per year since 2009 and isn’t’ expected to slow anytime soon.

Please visit our website at for more information on how non-cash awards such as incentive travel, gift cards, incentive cards, merchandise, awards, and effective marketing communications campaigns can increase the performance of your business.

Questions? Comments? Please send me an email at or comment below to open a discussion.

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

How to Save $57,000 in HR Costs

The Cost of Losing Employees

Losing employees is expensive for your company. This is not a new revelation. Rather, it is a harsh reality that human resource professionals live with daily.

A recent study* underscored the importance of this fact by determining the value and the amount of money lost when employees of various seniorities leave your company in search of new opportunities.

Quantifying The Loss of an Employee:

$7,000 – Cost of replacing a salaried employee

+ $10,000 – Cost of replacing a mid-level employee

+ $40,000 – Cost of replacing a senior executive

$57,000 – Total Cost of losing one employee from each seniority level

How to Increase Employee Retention

When you put it into financial terms, you can save your organization $57,000 a year by retaining one salaried employee, one mid-level employee, and one senior executive. The most effective way to achieve these savings is to make an investment in employee incentive and employee recognition programs.

Implementing a program that allows you to foster higher levels of employee engagement and recognition can be a key to your success. In addition to adequately supporting an employee’s need for growth and stimulating work, rewards and incentives for high performance are excellent ways to increase employee retention. Non-cash incentives have been shown time and time again to be more cost effective and more memorable drivers of engagement than cash bonuses.

Non-cash rewards can include:

Incurring losses of $7,000, $10,000, and $40,000 every time an employee departs is simply too costly. It’s time to get proactive and make small investments in incentive programs. Your dividends in terms of reduced training costs and increased productivity will far exceed the expenses of the program.

For more information on how to retain your employees utilizing cost-effective incentives, rewards and recognition programs, please click here or send me an email at to discuss further.

*Source: Recruiting Times, U.S. Department of Labor, PricewaterhouseCoopers/Saratoga, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Take It from Those Who Know Best: Non-Cash Rewards Drive Sales Performance


Often times, the most effective way to improve your organization is to take a cue from those who are currently excelling in your industry. Organizations that exhibit superior performance have thrived for a reason, and not learning from their experiences would represent a major oversight. The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently published a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group that evaluates non-cash incentives and rewards based on their utilization by “Best-In-Class” companies.

Best-In-Class companies were categorized as the top 20% of firms, and had “higher customer retention rates, higher year-over-year increases in the number of sales reps achieving sales quota” among other superior qualities. A majority of these organizations cited non-cash incentives and rewards as a “vital component” of sales performance management.

The key findings:

  • Incentive Travel is Essential: 100% of Best-In-Class organizations utilize Incentive Travel to motivate their sales force
  • Internal Sales Employee Recognition Programs Produce Results: 14.8% higher team quota attainment and 5.9% higher customer renewal rate was achieved by organizations with formal internal sales employee recognition programs
  • Company Sponsored Events Are Vital: Best-In-Class firms were 75% more likely to offer company sponsored events as incentives
  • Outsourcing Program Management Leads to Improved Sales Figures: Companies that outsource the management of non-cash incentive programs show higher lead conversion rates (30.4% vs. 23.9%) and lower average sales cycles (4.2 months vs. 5.3 months)

Best-In-Class firms are effectively utilizing and outsourcing the management of their non-cash incentive programs to further the success of their organizations. It is crucial to take a cue from the superior performers, and not fall in line with the laggards or industry average businesses.

Finding a company to manage your incentive program is a crucial decision that is vital to the success of your program. Visit our website at today and let us prove to you that we are the company that will provide results for you.

Kristopher Hewkin

Source: The Incentive Research Foundation “Press Release: ‘Best-In-Class’ Firms Prefer Non-Cash Rewards to Drive Sales Performance”

Incentive Rewards and the Power of Choice

Choice is a powerful word.  Every day we make dozens, if not hundreds of choices. What drives us to make these choices?

Dr. William Glasser popularized the Study of Choice Theory, which is an explanation of human behavior in an attempt to meet one or more of the five basic human needs.  Abraham Maslow is a pioneer in the field of human needs and has created a simple pyramid to describe them.  The hierarchy of needs is a roadmap of the requirements of all human beings, beginning with the most basic needs of food and sleep, and moving up to the advanced self-actualized needs that involve the desire to grow as a person and fulfill one’s own potential.

Firms today are constantly faced with tough choices to compete in a crowded marketplace. While great products, wide selections, superior customer service, or low prices may act as the fuel that keeps a company moving forward, employees are the drivers that are as indispensable to an organization as a skilled driver is to auto racing.

Motivating and rewarding employees is crucial for managers to retain their most valuable assets.  Choosing the right incentive rewards, however, can often be a challenging task, as cash bonuses are a quick and easy solution, but rate low in results delivered.

Making the choice to provide employees with non-cash incentives, such as travel programs and reward cards fulfills the highest region of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Non-cash incentives satisfy the creative and spontaneous needs of employees that ordinary cash bonuses do not.  Using these incentive rewards will result in higher employee motivation, which is a priceless asset for any business.

For more information on the steps to creating a successful incentive program Click Here

Brandon Learish

Employee Incentives: A Key to Improving Employee Happiness?

Jaquelyn Smith of Forbes gives us some food for thought on the most effective ways to increase “employee happiness” in a recent article entitled, “The Companies With The Biggest Jumps In Employee Happiness.” Smith outlines the 50 companies that have done the best job in making their employees more satisfied from 2011-2012 measured via a “Bliss Index” rating. Google is at the top of the list (no surprise) along with other corporate giants such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s, but the primary purpose was to investigate how these companies are achieving this goal. “First-rate employee incentives” appear to be one of the major keys.

Incentive programs are suggested to be one of the top factors in achieving greater happiness as personified by Google, who offers many out of the box incentives, such as free haircuts, on-site doctors and even death benefits. These incentives may be out of your budget, but smaller scale, noncash incentives, such as prepaid debit cards may be a strong option. These prepaid cards allow you to choose a specific retail spending outlet that matches your employees’ preferences, or a prepaid MasterCard® Reward Card to let them have the freedom to spend their dollars wherever they choose. Branded cards with your company logo also add a nice touch. Work-life balance was also a major factor, and there’s no better way to address this than to award a winners’ choice travel incentive program, if budget allows, where your winning employees can choose a romantic retreat or family getaway to meet their preference.

Want your company to top a similar list in 2013? It’s time to get creative with your employee incentives programs, or to get one in place if your business is lagging behind.

Kristopher Hewkin

Strategic Marketing Manager, JNR Incorporated