Hannaford team rewards associates for creativity

A Hannaford department is sparking creative ideas and rewarding innovation with a popular initiative called the Spark Plug Recognition Program. Launched last year, the program rewards Marketing and Consumer Relations associates for groundbreaking work, concepts or ideas based on nominations submitted through an online portal.

Vice President of Marketing Maile Buker says the program stemmed from a discussion at the Hannaford Leadership Summit in October 2016 of ways to foster a culture of curiosity and innovation. Brand President Mike Vail then "challenged us to come up with ways to reinforce that culture and reward innovative behavior,” Maile said.

Monthly and year-end Spark Plug winners, covering a wide array of topics, are chosen by Marketing leaders and awarded at team meetings. Recipients receive a paid day off, a Hannaford gift card and a gift certificate for the support office cafeteria in Scarborough, Maine.

There's also a Spark Plug trophy. While the monthly winners hold the trophy until the next month’s recipient is announced, the year-end winners get one to keep.

Marketing associates Julie Gagnon and Sherri Stevens shared year-end honors for 2017. Julie won for a plan that streamlined and simplified the ordering process for retail identification tags. Sherri won for helping launch two food pantries in Manchester, New Hampshire, that provide food to hungry children on weekends, when school meals are unavailable.

Hannaford additionally has a successful retail program called The Pitch, which rewards store associates for ideas that enhance efficiency and improve the customer experience.