IRF Incentive Trends 2023: workforce and economic challenges

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) is pleased to announce the release of its signature study, The IRF 2023 Trends Report. COVID concerns have subsided, while workforce issues take on increased urgency. Given one of the most challenging labor markets in history, incentives are a critical business strategy to help organizations attract, retain, and build culture.

“As we enter 2023, incentive, recognition, and reward programs will be expected to have broader reach and deeper impact,” said IRF President Stephanie Harris. “Program owners are charged with motivating a changing workforce while dealing with major disruptions, including inflation, uncertainty, ongoing supply chain issues, and limited inventory.”

The top trends for incentive, reward, and recognition programs in 2023 include:

Expanded Role of Incentives Professionals: The new decentralized workforce comes with new expectations and considerations for the structure and delivery of engagement programs to inspire employee performance and loyalty.

Incentive Travel is Scaling Back… The demand for incentive travel is strong for 2023, but economic and staffing issues are often forcing incentive program owners to scale back.

…And Ramping Up: In order to meet the needs of the changing workforce, incentive travel needs to be more exciting, more exclusive, more experiential, more authentic, and more memorable than ever.

Patience Has Run Out: Suppliers have noted that incentive clients now expect services to be delivered at pre-COVID levels, particularly where costs are higher than pre-pandemic. 

Downtime Is the Hot Activity: Attendees want more choices in their schedules, time between programs, and blocks of time to recharge or catch up with work.

To read the full list of trends, and to view or download a copy of the full report, please visit The IRF 2023 Trends Report webpage.

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This article is written by

Tijn Kramer