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    Superior Grocers, Price Chopper Supermarkets Win MAXX Awards

    FMI bestows the honor for innovative human resource programs

    The Food Marketing Institute has presented the 2008 Maximizing People Potential Award (MAXX) to Superior Grocers and Price Chopper Supermarkets, in recognition of the companies' superior training and human resource programs. The grocers were honored at the FMI Human Resources/Training and Development Conference, held earlier this month in Monterey, Calif.

    Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Superior earned the award in the smaller company category (up to 4,000 employees) for its New Employee Career Development program. In response to high turnover rates, the company developed a six-week course focusing on managerial support between associates and management, career advancement opportunities, and training programs.

    Just one year after the program's implementation, Superior's employee turnover rate fell by 14 percent, resulting in a savings of $1.2 million for the company.

    Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper was recognized in the larger company category (4,001 or more employees) for a program known as TEAM, an acronym for "The Efforts of Associates Matter." TEAM encourages associates to participate, communicate, and give feedback to share new ideas and help make improvements at the store level. A key part of the program is its Continuous Improvement training sessions, at which associates learn how to facilitate through the problem-solving process. In addition to the initial meeting, follow-up meetings take place, allow for further development and an opportunity to present recommendations to store management. At the end of the fiscal year, TEAMs from each store district are asked to present their project to senior management.

    Many of the projects developed through TEAM have been applied chainwide.  The program has led to changes to a number of company operations, including training, communication processes, customer service, safety, shrink prevention, and store cleanliness.

    MAXX Award runners-up were Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Supervalu, Inc., for its Distribution Management Training Program, which teaches employees how personality type affects results and how to forge new relationships in a large company, and Victoria, B.C.-based Thrifty Foods, which created an online training and development program that prepares staff for more senior-level positions, and supports career development and succession planning.

    Attendees at conference chose the winners, judging the programs by such criteria as program and learning objectives, originality, return on investment, and cultural impact.

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