HON Rethinks Engagement to Create Loyalty for Life

HON FurnitureFor years companies have implemented employee engagement and incentive programs that largely focus on a “do this, get that” reward strategy. What happens if a company challenges this norm and places an emphasis on what appeals to and motivates each individual? Comprehensive engagement programs that are grounded in neuroscience can equip organizations to better understand, enable and motivate their workforces. 

Organizations often identify knowledgeable, productive and supportive employees, but fail to acknowledge individual motivational drivers, a key element of employee satisfaction. By understanding people and their values, there’s a greater chance of developing true loyalty. 

For instance, The HON Company, a leading office furniture manufacturer based in Muscatine, Iowa, has successfully operated a channel incentive program for nearly 20 years to reward dealers and dealer sales representatives (DSRs). After researching trends with incentive programs, Stanley Askren, the chairman and CEO of HNI Corporation, HON’s parent company, realized the need for a refreshed loyalty program that recognized and rewarded each sales representative based on what personally motivated them. 

Stanley Askren posed a question to his team, “I am a customer for life for one airline—how do I get our DSRs to be HON DSRs, for life?” 

Through a partnership with Maritz Motivation Solutions, HON developed a better understanding of sales representatives’ lifetime value. Maritz developed an approach called “DSR for Life,” a process that identifies and segments sales representatives based on data that determines their lifetime value. By carefully considering involvement and accomplishments of DSRs, HON could predict the best and most engaged representatives over time, so marketing budgets could be targeted to create the highest return. 

“The HON brand is the essence of our strategy. The HONORS program helps us to connect in a targeted way to our most loyal DSRs, making HON the brand that they prefer to sell, while rewarding them for their efforts,” added Shelley deSilva, vice president of marketing at HON. 

This innovative approach drives deeper engagement, helps predict future profits, and provides enhanced reward and recognition offers, while at the same time identifying high-value and at-risk representatives. The program also created a brand community that let the sales channel regularly interact with HON. 

Another key differentiator of the HONORS loyalty program is the tiered structure under which participants earn rewards and recognition. DSRs were grouped in tiers based on prior program performance. As sales representatives grew into a new tier, their status grew within the organization, earning them additional perks and privileges. The program offers flexibility, giving participants the opportunity to purchase their own merchandise based on performance tier. The top 50 DSRs and their guests earn an incentive trip accompanied by a recognition ceremony. 

Thanks to the tiered structure, targeted impactful communications strategy and lifetime value modeling, HON HONORS exceeded preliminary program objectives. In the first year, DSR enrollment increased 10 percent with a 13 percent increase in sales. All tiers increased 100 percent in average and total sales. Employee lifetime value improved significantly, with a return on investment value of nearly three to one. Many of HON’s DSRs have regularly moved up the tiers in the last year. 

What can other organizations learn from the HON HONORS program? An engaged employee or sales partner can be your company’s best asset, especially in the way they serve customers, anticipate needs and act as brand advocates. 

If companies start to better understand its people and individual motivational drivers, they will start to see greater employee retention and deeper loyalty overall. It’s time for talent leaders to give up on one-size-fits-all recognition and begin paying closer attention to the individuals who are contributing to success. 

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