Feature Article - November/December 2013

IMA Closeup

Businesses Turn to Association for Ways to Motivate, Retain Employees

By Deborah L. Vence

The Year's Accomplishments

This year, the IMA wasn't short on accomplishments. The incentive organization continued to thrive and offer value to its members through education and networking opportunities.

To break it down further, Renk noted a list of achievements that include the following:

  • Targeted corporate outreach efforts with a new IMA exhibit at World at Work and an expanded shared booth exhibit at IMEX.
  • A very successful IMA Summit held in Denver that realized record attendance for a summit held in a Western time zone venue. (The 2014 Executive Summit is scheduled to be held July 27 to 29, 2014, in Philadelphia.)
  • The Circle of Excellence Awards Program that recognized four outstanding examples of best practice incentive programs. Launched in 2000, the Circle of Excellence Awards identify and recognize successful customer and employee incentive programs designed to help drive business. Both the company using the program and the incentive marketing partner are recognized.
  • The IMA Certified Professional of Incentive Management certification program was streamlined to be accessible to more industry professionals. (The IMA's Certified Professional of Incentive Management acknowledges incentive professionals who demonstrate the knowledge and leadership essential to succeed in the incentive industry.)
  • A major redesign of www.incentivemarketing.org is under way, too, with the goal of delivering greater access to resources and to make member-to-member interaction more convenient. The site, which will have more social media features as part of the revamp, is scheduled to be completed before the end of 2013.
  • On the eve of the IMA's 15th anniversary, the organization initiated a comprehensive review of the IMA brand to ensure the organization continues to be relevant.
  • This year, the organization also conducted a search for a new executive director to replace retiring Executive Director Karen Renk. Carla DeFlorio, CAE, the former CEO of the Consortium for Professional Credentialing (Foundation for Rehabilitation Education and Research), recently took over the job.

Working With IMA Members

While IMA professionals work to strengthen their focus on ROI, they also continue to turn to the association for assistance in designing programs that are customized to meet their specific needs.

"IMA members use the association to access research, grow their expertise and stay up to date on the latest industry trends," Anderson said.

And, the IMA accomplishes this by offering education, resources and research to promote the use of incentive programs to the business community.

Renk noted that IMA members represent top companies in the incentive marketplace, including brand-name product suppliers, travel suppliers, card providers, recognition providers, and the organizations that design and implement incentive and recognition programs for their customers.

"[It] is the global umbrella organization for full-service incentive and recognition companies, manufacturers of incentive awards and their field representatives, gift card and travel companies, as well as technology resources. If a company wants to launch or update a recognition and/or incentive program and do it so they achieve their results in the most cost-effective manner, look to the professionals in the IMA," Anderson said.

She added that it has been proven that business improves when employees and customers are recognized and engaged through effectively structured programs with defined goals and proven returns.

"The Incentive Marketing Organization is comprised of the companies that are leaders in the incentive industry," she said.

And, one of the advantages of working with IMA members, Low noted, is the fact that they are active in learning about and participating in the discussions about advocating the use of incentives in improving performance.

"The IMA is the association dedicated to bringing all facets of the industry together under one umbrella. IMA members have access to the latest white papers and research to help companies understand the positive economic impact of recognition programs. IMA members that have achieved CPIM and IP certification have proven their understanding of the principles of the use of incentives," he said.

In fact, according to the IMA website, five incentive industry professionals have achieved the IMA's CPIM designation, which acknowledges those who demonstrate the knowledge and leadership essential to succeed in the $46 billion incentive industry. The CPIM announcement was made at the IMA's 13th Annual Summit in July in Denver. More information on the designees can be found at incentivemarketing.org.

"IMA members are knowledgeable professionals that live and breathe motivation and are an essential partner for any company wanting to improve performance from every aspect of their organization," Low added.