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ITA Group's Rob Danna: "We Intend to Be the Leader in Human Capital"

As the only employee-owned company in the incentive, rewards, and recognition (IRR) business, ITA Group is uniquely positioned to profit from the new focus on human capital management, says Rob Danna, Senior Vice President at the 60-year-old Des Moines-based engagement agency. “We intend to be the leader in this space.” 
DannaHas the human capital management movement arrived? The answer from Rob Danna, Senior Vice President of the ITA Group in Des Moines, is an emphatic yes. “When you have organizations such as the Conference Board focusing on the subject and so much interest coming from investors, it has clearly become a C-suite issue.” As a result, he sees his company increasingly involved with helping organizations create and manage human capital management and reporting and getting involved in all the ways organizations need to engage stakeholders. 
“We have been talking for many years about the impact of people on the bottom line. C-suiters increasingly understand that engagement goes beyond discretionary effort. When you have a clearly engaged workforce with a clear purpose, productivity, efficiency, and referrals go up, so that what you have is true advocacy. When your people become your advocates, you will see the results in your bottom line.” Being an employee-owned company, “We are the original Stakeholder Capitalists,” he adds.
Danna says the new focus on stakeholder engagement will have a significant impact on his company’s business model. “Our advantage is our ability to take tactical solutions such as recognition, incentives, and meetings, and apply them to help organizations achieve their specific business goals, and that starts with taking the voice of employees and pairing it with good organizational data and strategy to design a tailored solution. We are not the company that brings the same tool to every challenge. We go in and ask, “what issues do you have? Then we look into the toolbox to see what makes sense. Today, companies need a multi-platform approach to get their message across; it involves much more than traditional recognition and incentives, although they are important too.”   

A New Focus on Outcomes

He continues, “The shift in the industry is away from just focusing on the utilization of your recognition system. What are the business results you are achieving with your employee engagement strategy?  Recognition is critical, but it can’t run on its own; it takes constant refinement. As an engagement agency, we have all the tools based on the situation—events and other communications, reinforcement, production, analytics, and market research.  With all of that under our umbrella, we can help organizations address every lever of engagement.”  
He says that ITA Group’s focus on helping organizations perform is generating new revenues from consulting, thought leadership, data analytics, pay-for-performance, and gain sharing. “We are here to drive business results, productivity, quality, retention, and referrals.” 
He attributes the new business focus on human capital management to generational changes, the low unemployment rate, and the realization by investors that an organization’s people are in fact their most important assets and need to be better managed. “The pendulum has shifted. Today’s employers must provide a solid value proposition for the employee. The employer must demonstrate how it will show up for employees. We don’t have a worker shortage, what we really have is a talent shortage.  If you don’t have the right story, the right foundation, you won’t attract the right talent.” 

New Revenues from Advisory Fees

Besides the increased emphasis on providing communications and other engagement tools beyond rewards, recognition, incentives, and events, he sees more revenues from advisory fees on human capital management and reporting, not only helping to design and implement human capital strategies but even to help write the reports. “The story behind the numbers is almost as important as the numbers. An organization needs to have the right story and right foundation and not just present a façade.” 
Market research and analytics are now core to the business, he says. “About five years ago, we realized the need for market research. Everything we do is data driven. It’s no longer just talking about a case study. We’re looking deeply into data for our clients. If the data doesn’t exist, it’s our job to help them find it. If we are going to provide strategy, we realized we needed another level of research. We needed people to help dissect data so that we can feed the analytics back in the form of well-founded recommendations.” That focus resulted in the purchase of a Boston-based analytics firm, Chadwick Martin Baily (CMB).   
With the help of CMB, ITA Group has developed an analysis tool to help organizations identify the gaps in their ESG strategies. “This isn’t an employee engagement survey; it’s a process to find out if employees believe what the organization is doing is authentic. Through the process, we can bring concrete recommendations to the C-suite. Our CMB group is the backbone of everything we’re doing. Data drives every recommendation.” 

Coming Soon: an ITA Human Capital Report

While ITA Group itself has an internal human capital and environmental report, it is not yet published but will be shortly, he says. “About 40% of the requests for proposals we receive now include a request for some form of human capital and environmental reporting.” 
Danna believes that the human capital movement could be the industry’s biggest opportunity in a generation. “We have big plans in this area, including potential acquisitions. We are all in on this. If we lead the way, we will be showing our customers the light. Employees have to “see” themselves at your organization, they need to know the culture will support issues that are important to them – like Human Rights. We are trying to help clients benefit from the ‘S’ of ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance). We see this as a fundamental shift in business. Today, it’s about retention, inclusion, diversity, and social and governance. We intend to be the leader in this space.”  
For More Information
Rob Danna
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

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Master the “S” of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), A.k.a. Stakeholder Capitalism
The Enterprise Engagement Alliance at is the world’s first and only organization that focuses on outreach, certification and training, and advisory services to help organizations achieve their goals by fostering the proactive involvement of all stakeholders. This includes customers, employees, distribution and supply chain partners, and communities, or anyone connected to an organization’s success.
Training and Thought Leadership 
  • Founded in 2008, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance provides outreach, learning and certification in Enterprise Engagement, an implementation process for the “S” or Social of Stakeholder Capitalism and Human Capital Management and measurement of engagement across the organization.
  • The Enterprise Engagement Alliance provides a training and certification program for business leaders, practitioners, and solution providers, as well as executive briefings and human capital gap analyses for senior leaders.
  • The EEA produces an education program for CFOs for the CFO.University training program on Human Capital Management.
  • Join the EEA to become a leader in the implementation of the “S” of ESG and Stakeholder Capitalism. 
EE for CEOsEngagement Digital Media and Marketplaces
Video Learning
The EEA Human Capital Management and ROI of Engagement YouTube channel features a growing library of 30- to 60-minute panel discussions with leading experts in all areas of engagement and total rewards.
EE RoadmapBooks
Enterprise Engagement Advisory Services 
The Engagement Agency helps:
  • Organizations of all types develop strategic Stakeholder Capitalism and Enterprise Engagement processes and human capital management and reporting strategies; conduct human capital gap analyses; design and implement strategic human capital management and reporting plans that address DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and assist with managed outsourcing of engagement products and services.
  • Human resources, sales and marketing solution providers profit from the emerging discipline of human capital management and ROI of engagement through training and marketing services.
  • Investors make sense of human capital reporting by public companies.
  • Buyers and sellers of companies in the engagement space or business owners or buyers who seek to account for human capital in their mergers and acquistions
For more information: Contact Bruce Bolger at or call 914-591-7600, ext. 230.
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