IRF: Transparent corporate culture now an imperative

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) released its annual trends report, and as is always the case with IRF offerings, it includes plenty of pertinent and interesting information. The 10 trends with implications for incentive travel and reward and recognition programs include: 

  • Wellness hits a tipping point 
  • Merchandise rewards edging toward the meaningful 
  • Gift cards continue to gain momentum as a reward option 

Two trends of particular note for HR professionals and their organizations caught our eye. 

The first concerns the shift in how companies calculate their own value. Whereas in prior decades firms would tie their valuation to tangible items (things they own or make, for example), today more than 80 percent of companies’ value consists of intangibles: brand value, data, relationships and the like. According to a cited Harvard Business Review study, the leading source for sustained competitive advantage is no longer adept financial allocation.  

It’s human capital management. 

Which means that corporate culture, always important, is today more critical than ever. New technology-enabled viewing points, the IRF study states, allow customers to recognize discrepancies between a company’s internal culture and its external brand: “Now, there emerges a single new-economy truth: A company’s culture can be its greatest asset.” Given today’s “radical transparency,” businesses can no longer hide their true selves from their customers. And that’s a great thing, if your organizational culture is one you want people to see and experience. 

Yours is, right? If not, we can help you with that.

If the necessity for a brand-asset culture is apparent, how businesses propose to go about creating one is not. According to a cited PwC survey, CEOs name innovation and human capital as their biggest needs, well ahead (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) of technology and customer experience investments. The skills companies are seeking in order to build a stronger culture, such as problem-solving and adaptability, are precisely the ones they’re having the most trouble finding. 

The second trend hits close to home for us, since it’s been near and dear to our corporate heart for a long time: “Predictive analytics, AI and augmented reality capabilities will be a fundamental requirement for the effective incentive, rewards and events business partner of the future.” 

That AI and predictive technology are current trends will be surprising to exactly no one. No topic today is more prominent in the business world, and certainly within the HR discipline. More and more companies are adding data scientists and analysts to their HR departments. Citing Deloitte, the IRF study states that the number of HR departments capable of developing their own predictive models has doubled. Among the many endeavors currently occupying their attention are analyzing flight risk, identifying high-performers, predicting potential leaders and examining engagement and culture. 

At Maritz Motivation, we certainly like the idea of HR departments getting elbow-deep in advanced analytics and the behavioral and decision sciences. Figuring out why employees and customers do what they do—actionable, predictive insights that affect your business—is the very core of what we’ve always been about. You can learn more about how we’re putting data to work here and here . 

The full IRF 2018 trends report can be found here.