Paul Holmes 04 Mar 2003 // 12:00AM GMT
Each year, 3 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes. More than 5 million are injured in the workplace. Yet, even more people, 7 million, are injured in the home each year. Lowe’s Heroes is a grassroots home safety volunteer program that addresses the most overlooked cause of injury and death in America: unintentional home injury.
Lowe’s Home Safety Council created the Lowe’s Heroes as part of its vision of safer American homes. The volunteer program is sponsored by the Council and carried out by Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse employees and local nonprofit safety organizations. Lowe’s Heroes implement home safety projects for homeowners and communities focusing on: fire prevention, child safety, senior safety, do-it-yourself safety, home security and disaster preparedness.
The Lowe’s Heroes program improves the lives of thousands of Americans each year and provides an excellent source of camaraderie among co-workers. Lowe’s Home Safety Council contributes more than $1 million each year and Lowe’s employees volunteer hundreds of thousands of hours to their communities. The program is creating safer homes in hundreds of communities across the country.
Increase Participation – Although the percentage of stores participating in the Lowe’s Heroes program has grown tremendously since the program’s inception, there was a decline in enthusiasm and employee volunteer participation in recent years
Improve Program Quality – After evaluating 2000 programs, the Council was concerned that local programs strayed or lost a home safety focus
Increase Communication – Address challenges stores faced in planning their program to raise enthusiasm by increasing communication between stores and the Council
Following the completion of the Lowe’s Heroes program in 2000, Golin/Harris and Lowe’s Home Safety Council surveyed Lowe’s store employees. In addition, members of the Council and Golin/Harris reviewed programs from the previous year and assessed results and created objectives for the 2001 program year.
Overall, the research showed that employees’ sense of reward is very high, however, many feel burdened with the task of creating and implementing a project. In addition, some programs did not focus on home safety, rather teams conducted basic community improvement projects or community fairs. Finally, program administrators believe increased media coverage and national recognition would promote internal program support.
- Secure 100 percent store participation
- Increase media coverage and national recognition
- Position Lowe’s Home Safety Council and Lowe’s employees as experts and proponents of home safety, respectively
- Increase enthusiasm and ensure employees adhere to program guidelines
Golin/Harris’ implemented a strategy to use all available communications mediums to provide regular program updates to Lowe’s employees. We also enlisted the help of senior Lowe’s executives to demonstrate their support of the program. In addition, Golin/Harris devised a number of mechanisms to make it easier for the stores to plan and execute home safety-related programs with increased support from Golin/Harris and Lowe’s Home Safety Council.
Golin/Harris recommended and implemented the following improvements:
- Wrote and published a supplement to the monthly corporate newsletter to announce the 2000 Lowe’s Heroes winners and excite employees for the 2001 program
- Highlighted best practices of winning programs and included message of thanks from Lowe’s COO
- Provided additional corporate resources including a toll-free number and an e-mail address for inquiries and media relations support
- Counseled multiple stores on program direction and development
- Provided grassroots media relations support to more than 85 different Heroes programs
- Enhanced program handbook through improved tips on starting a program, identifying and working with a nonprofit partner and best practices
- Improved media relations direction and support
- Identified 10 key Lowe’s multi-store markets and offered counsel
- Included directions on how to obtain media support in e-mail and newsletter updates
- Held two telecommunications meetings to provide help with program direction
- In 2001, the program has nearly 100 percent participation, an increase of 35 percent in two years
- In March 2002, the Points of Light Foundation will award Lowe’s and Lowe’s Home Safety Council with a Citation of Excellence for Corporate Community Service
- The program received more than 12 million media impressions in 2001
- Lowe’s Heroes reached more than 175,000 American homes with safety information or installations
- More than 13,000 Lowe’s employees participated in project planning
- Nearly 8,000 Lowe’s employee volunteers committed more than 100,000 hours to home safety initiatives
- More than 7,000 nonprofit partner volunteers invested almost 75,000 hours to Heroes projects
One of the most significant accomplishments of the Lowe’s Heroes program is saving lives. For example, in Galesburg, Ill., Lowe’s Heroes installed free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in homes of area seniors. One visit proved life saving. Upon entering a home, the current carbon monoxide alarm was going off. The owner thought the product was malfunctioning. The Heroes then installed a new device, which also emitted an alarm. The Heroes and local authorities investigated. A kitchen appliance was releasing deadly amounts of the colorless, odorless gas. The Heroes fixed the problem, potentially saving the resident’s life.