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IRR Veteran Has High Hope for the Marketplace

With over 40 years of continuous experience in the IRR (Incentive, Rewards, and Recognition) field, Barbara Hendrickson says she is retiring in September 2022 with a lot of good friends and hope for the future of the marketplace.
Barb HendricksonThe renewed focus on people is real and Barbara Hendrickson believes that there is significant growth potential. When asked what would make sense for people entering the marketplace now, she envisions a reward-neutral engagement agency that designs employee, consumer and channel programs that achieve measurable results. “Once the merchandise world evolved, I spent a significant amount of energy trying to figure out how to monetize my knowledge and experience rather than earning a commission only on the reward vehicle. Firms that are listening carefully to client challenges and building customized programs to solve them seem to be on the right track.”

A Storied IRR Career 

Starting in 1978 as a local incentive manufacturer’s representative in 1978, in 1989 Hendrickson joined Design Incentives in providing merchandise for incentive, reward and recognition programs. Hendrickson and her partner Karen Williams guided the evolution of Design Incentives into helping clients design and implement employee, sales, channel and consumer programs. They formed separate companies to expand into promotional products and national fulfillment services, which Hendrickson ran after Williams retired in 1998. In 2011, Barb sold Design Incentives and started Visible Communication, a boutique content marketing and social media strategy firm. 
So why is she retiring if she believes there is so much promise for this business? “I feel like I’ve done all I can do here: sold merchandise, promotional products, fulfillment services, gift cards and travel. I’ve designed corporate programs and facilitated the study session to train other professionals to design effective programs. I’ve survived three economic downturns and a global pandemic. I’ve worked with major corporations and small to mid-size businesses. As a charter member of the Incentive Marketing Association, I served on committees, on the board and a year as president. For the last 10 or more years, I’ve helped others grow their businesses through social media strategies and content marketing. I’ve met so many great clients and colleagues along the way; many remain good friends. At this point I’m enjoying sharing my experience by mentoring younger women through organizations like IMA and WiiN (Women in Incentives Network).”
Hendrickson feels that people often leave companies or industries when they’re ready for a new set of challenges. “Every job has its challenges, but eventually, I was just tired of running into the same roadblocks. For instance, one of the last programs I worked on at Design Incentives involved a company running a consumer promotion that was intentionally designing a complicated redemption process to minimize the payout. I’d had enough.”

Her Advice: Focus on People and Results 

Her advice to the incentive industry based on her 40 years of experience? “It’s a different world now than it was 40 years ago – or even five years ago – and I would not presume to offer advice as if I had a clue as to what the world will look like in the next five years. My observation is that none of this is rocket science: in any industry, those who truly focus on the client and adapt their business model to serve those customer needs should do well. It seems that corporate leaders are finally acting on their claim that ‘people are their greatest asset.’  If they invest in programs that prove they’re serious, there should be a meaningful resurgence in the incentive, reward and recognition and engagement marketplace. This resurgence presents the opportunity to make sure that the market is aware that there are organizations full of experienced professionals ready to help.”
She concludes, “It has been a challenging and rewarding several decades. The incentive world has been very good to me. I’m grateful for the opportunities and for all the friends I’ve made along the way.”

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Education, Certifications, and Information to Activate
Brand Media and Enterprise Engagement 

A complete learning, certification, and information program and a course syllabus for educators.
Resources: The Brand Media Coalition, the only guide to the story-telling power of brands and where to source them for business, event, promotional gifting, and rewards and recognition. Enterprise Engagement Solution Provider Directory. The only directory of engagement solution providers covering all types of agencies and tactics as well as insights on how to select them.
Communities: The  Enterprise Engagement Alliance and Advocate and the  Brand Media Coalition free resource centers offering access to the latest research, news, and case studies; discounts, promotions, referrals, and commissions, when appropriate to third-party solution providers from participating coalition solution provider members.
Training and Certification
Enterprise Engagement Alliance Education: Certified Engagement Practitioner; Advanced Engaged Practitioner, and Certified Engagement Solution Provider learning and certification programs on how to implement Stakeholder Capitalism principles at the tactical level. 
International Center for Enterprise Engagement: The only training and certification program for ISO 30414 human capital reporting and ISO 10018 quality people management certification. 
A CEO's Guide to Engagement Across the Enterprise cover
The EEA offers a complimentary course syllabus for educators.
In Print: 
This is the definitive implementation guide to Stakeholder Capitalism, written specifically to provide CEOs and their leadership teams a concise overview of the framework, economics, and implementation process of a CEO-led strategic and systematic approach to achieving success through people.  (123 pages, $15.99)
The first and most comprehensive book on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards. Includes 36 chapters detailing how to better integrate and align engagement efforts across the enterprise. (312 pages, $36.) 
10-minute short course: click here for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards from the Coggno.com learning platform.
•  The Engagement Agency at EngagementAgency.net, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
•  C-Suite Advisory Service—Education of boards, investors, and C-suite executives on the economics, framework, and implementation processes of Enterprise Engagement. 
•  Speakers Bureau—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
•  Mergers and Acquisitions. The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777.
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools: The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here to access the tools.
•  ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy. 
•  EE Benchmark Indicator. Confidentially benchmark your organization’s Enterprise Engagement practices against organizations and best practices. 
•  Compare Your Company’s Level of Engagement. Quickly compare your organization’s level of engagement to those of others based on the same criteria as the EEA’s Engaged Company Stock Index.
•  Gauge Your Personal Level of Engagement. This survey, donated by Horsepower, enables individuals to gauge their own personal levels of engagement.
For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheEEA.org, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.
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