IRF Study Reveals High Awareness, Low Knowledge of Regulations of Non-Cash Rewards

The Incentive Research Foundation is pleased to announce the release of its signature study U.S. Federal Regulations and Non-Cash Awards. The study examines program owners’ understanding of the regulatory environment and discusses how they are adjusting their programs to accommodate these regulations.


“Most program owners understand their reward and recognition activities are impacted by the regulatory environment, but struggle with the detailed implications” said Melissa Van Dyke, IRF President. “Not surprisingly, over half of U.S. businesses have increased the dollars invested into programs to accommodate changes and close to half have increased staff support.

 We anticipate more and more resources will continue to be dedicated to understanding and accommodating regulatory requirements for non-cash awards programs, especially as these regulations themselves continue their refinement.”

The survey was executed summer of 2017 to a cross-section of 419 businesses, 106 of which operate in the financial services sector. Program owners were targeted based on sector and revenue size.

With a focus on key regulations – including DOL Fiduciary Rule, 274j, OSHA, FLSA, Fair Market Value, and Sweepstakes/Lottery – program owners indicated that they were highly aware of regulatory and tax codes, but less knowledgeable about how to comply with them. Many program owners reported that they find regulations unclear and challenging to accommodate, but are making numerous changes to their programs in an effort to comply.

Key findings discussed in U.S. Federal Regulations and Non-Cash Awardsinclude:

  • Most program owners (67%) are aware there are regulatory considerations for their programs
  • For the smallest businesses surveyed, awareness drops to 57%
  • Only 38% of program owners consider themselves very knowledgeable about regulations and tax requirements
  • Fewer than two-thirds of U.S. businesses have formal compliance mechanisms to address these requirements
  • Mid-sized firms find it most challenging to remain compliant
  • 86% of U.S. businesses make some revision to their rewards program on an annual basis
  • Half of U.S. businesses made eight or more changes to program design based on the regulatory environment in 2017
  • The most common design revisions are to general program design (87% of businesses) or program communications (85%)

U.S. Federal Regulations and Non-Cash Awards was supported by IRF Research Advocacy Partner MotivAction. MotivAction is a performance improvement company with a single purpose: to help their clients achieve more. Through employee engagement and recognition, sales incentives, meetings and events, training and consumer loyalty, MotivAction helps clients achieve results through people. For more information, visit

To view or download a copy of U.S. Federal Regulations and Non-Cash Awards and supporting materials, please visit


Source:  Incentive Research Foundation & CRE8AD8 Events