IRF Insights: How to Reach New Talent as the Industry Bounces Back

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An Incentive Research Foundation study looks at how to attract and retain new talent.
A new IRF study looks at how to attract and retain the next generation of industry professionals.

As the meetings and events industry roars back post-pandemic, there’s a need to recruit new talent. But, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) report, The Future of the Incentives Industry Workforce, few job-seekers are aware of opportunities in the MICE space, and even fewer in the incentives industry. The study explored post-pandemic workforce attitudes and priorities with results from two surveys: One of 97 employers in the meetings and incentive industry and the other of 372 workers and job seekers, only 19 of whom work in meetings and events. Results of 10 in-depth interviews with industry professionals and workers were also included.

Among the findings: more than 75 percent of incentives professionals surveyed are experiencing staffing shortages, but awareness is a top challenge to recruiting. “As we look to the industry’s future, it’s critical that we recruit and foster a workforce that possesses both technical skills and passion for motivating improved performance,” said IRF President Stephanie Harris. “The industry is a relative unknown among emerging talent and not a focus within most academic settings. IRF’s new report focuses on the specific challenges and opportunities when recruiting and retaining incentives and meetings talent.”

IRF Study Key Findings

•Travel opportunities were cited by job seekers as the number one reason for considering careers in the meetings and incentive industry.

• Opportunities for creative and interesting work were also cited by job seekers as appealing aspects of working in the industry.

• 81 percent of job seekers rated competitive/generous pay as the most important factor in deciding which organization to work for. 72 percent of employers agreed, rating compensation as the number one factor in attracting and keeping talent.

•After low pay, workers cited job security as the greatest barrier to seeking jobs in the MICE industry.

• 60 percent of employers said that flexible work was a key priority in attracting new recruits, with 41 percent of job seekers citing flexible hours as a key job benefit.

• Nearly 52 percent of the workforce surveyed were familiar with the MICE industry, but only around 43 percent had an awareness of job and career opportunities in the field.

•For all levels of hires, the most effective recruiting source is employee referral programs.

• When incentives and meetings employees leave their jobs, they tend to move within the industry rather than to related or other industries.

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