Case study: Reaping awards

September 8, 2015 -  By
Instead of trading in used vehicles, Heron awards them to employees as part of its appreciation program.

Instead of trading in used vehicles, Heron awards them to employees as part of its appreciation program.

A lot of companies say they value their employees, but Heron Home & Outdoor in Orlando, Fla., wants to “walk the talk,” says the company’s Marketing Director Cherissa Vandergriff. That’s why Heron’s leaders invested $20,000 into its employee appreciation program last year, and they expect to invest $30,000 by the end of 2015. The program has meant a boost to the morale of the company’s 210 employees and greater success as a whole.

“We can’t measure exactly how much it’s boosted our success as a company, but we know that employees are happier since we’ve begun really investing in more employee recognition,” says Vandergriff. “We wholeheartedly believe that happier employees are better employees.”

Among the opportunities that Heron has invested in is an employee rewards program. It’s based on a points system where employees can earn prizes like gift cards. Employees enjoy working toward four different prize levels, as the value jumps at each one, Vandergriff says. Level one is a coffee mug or glass with the Heron logo. Level two is a $25 gift card. Level three is a $100 gift card, and level four is $200 gift card. After level four, employees continue to earn points toward a grand prize. At the end of the year, the two top employees from each division are invited on a cruise.

“Employees know they’re working toward hopefully earning that grand prize and are motivated along the way as they hit each level,” Vandergriff says. “The HR team calculates points on a monthly basis and keeps everyone informed of where they stand.”

Employees earn points a variety of ways, including being to work on time, hitting a sales objective or generating leads. The points-earning opportunities are all based on the division and position, so they differ across the company.

“We’ve found that it’s created a spirit of friendly competition that keeps employees motivated about coming to work each day,” she says.

LM0915-heron-home-outdoorMore than gift cards

While the employee rewards program is a great motivator, it’s not the only employee endeavor the company has invested in. Heron also runs a safety program in which the number of mishaps is tracked by branch. Those with the best track record have opportunities to earn gift cards. Similarly, an employee retention program gives managers the opportunity to gain bonuses for keeping their employees at their branches. Employees also earn recruiting bonuses up to $300 for referring new hires.

Perhaps most exciting is the company’s car giveaway. Heron maintains a large fleet of vehicles. The company used to trade in old cars, but its leaders decided to use retired cars for employee giveaways instead.

“We remove the wrap and have the cars detailed before using them for employee contests,” Vandergriff says. “Last year we ran a contest where employees could earn raffle entries each time they sold a pest or termite treatment. After three months we drew a winner. It just so happened that the individual who won was in need of a car for his wife.”

Community outreach

The company has decided to expand car giveaways to those in need, in addition to its employees, Vandergriff says. Heron recently donated a car to a community member who was experiencing some hardships.

“We could make some money on trading the cars back in, but this has been such a wonderful alternative,” Vandergriff says. “The value we get out of it far exceeds any monetary value we would have gotten by bringing it back to the dealer.”

And that’s really what these opportunities are about, Vandergriff says.

“We strongly believe in employee recognition,” she continues. “We want to be able to give back to our employees for all the hard work they do.”


Photo: Heron Home & Outdoor

This article is tagged with and posted in Featured, September 2015

About the Author:

Payton is a freelance writer with eight years of experience writing about the landscape industry.

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