As we begin 2024, incentives and recognition, including travel incentives, continue to be important tools for organizations. Leadership sees their value, employees are motivated by them and the industry is positioned for a successful year, according to the Incentive Research Foundation’s recently released 2024 Trends Report. Yet the report warns that, given the current economic climate, incentive professionals are balancing the need to create transformative programs with the reality of inflation and budget constraints.

“The demands of a changing workforce raise the expectations for incentives to boost engagement, build company culture and motivate improved performance,” says Stephanie Harris, president of the Incentive Research Foundation’s. “As we enter 2024, incentive professionals face increasing pressure on budgets, while still developing strategic and creative ways to deliver exciting, motivational programs.”

The report reveals that the top trends for incentive, reward and recognition programs in 2024 include:

  1. Increasing the importance of incentives to motivate today’s workforce. Incentive and recognition programs are considered a key to culture building, and are instrumental in bringing together and motivating a more dispersed workforce.
  2. Inflation continues and budgets continue to be hit hard. While incentive program budgets are increasing, prices are often rising at a faster pace. Budgets must frequently be increased to maintain a program and do not indicate incentive program growth.
  3. Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing efficiency and impact. With transformative potential, AI can be used to enable greater personalization in rewards and shift towards true individualization, tailoring travel experiences and merchandise rewards to specific employees.
  4. The workforce is getting younger and priorities are shifting. Programs that utilize points, gift cards and spiffs align with younger workers’ preference for frequent, authentic recognition.

To read the full list of trends, and to view or download a copy of the full report, please visit the Incentive Research Foundation’s 2024 Trends Report here.