Erika Miller
FST Soapbox

Employee Buy-in to Ensure FSMA Compliance

By Erika Miller
1 Comment
Erika Miller

Managers have a big responsibility to get employees on board with required practices.

Temp agencies also do not always send the best people. As with the in-house HR department, it is hard to keep up a constant stream of qualified individuals. Supply can ebb and flow. In the down times, you may get people with little to no work experience, dodgy backgrounds or abrasive personalities because that is all that is available. A reminder—do not be afraid to exercise your right to turn away a candidate who makes you uncomfortable for any reason, as many people have lived to rue the day they ignored a gut feeling about a weirdo. They may be a perfectly nice weirdo, but it’s important to measure the risk and the reward using facts and not feelings. If that potentially perfectly nice weirdo decided to go postal, it could put a lot of your friends and co-workers at risk.

Because employers must pay an hourly premium to the temp agency for the use of their workers, some companies find that if they just increase the salaries of their regular employees by some fraction of that amount they can increase employee buy-in organically. Well-paid employees care about their employer and want the company to do well because they would like to keep their well-paid position. Increasing salaries is an oft-overlooked but nearly foolproof way to improve employee morale. Giving employees raises can also help solve the problems of turnover and shrinkage.

If the company is in a growth phase and does not have the flexibility to increase salaries, it may also prove beneficial to give employees soft benefits that are not directly monetary but improve morale nonetheless. Some companies opt to feed each shift a meal in the company cafeteria, especially those in a rural location or with a largely young, male workforce. Some offer stock options (for publicly-traded companies). Some run sweepstakes or competitions to drive employee engagement. It’s amazing how much a person will do for a relatively inexpensive prize when they also get bragging rights with their trophy! In this way, a company can invest relatively small amount of money and get a lot of return on their efforts.

When in doubt, ask the employees themselves. Set up a way for them to be anonymous, like a suggestion box with a question form or an online survey. Ask them what would improve their outlook, and what the company can do to drive their engagement in a new required activity. If they don’t understand why something is important, maybe education is the answer. As in life, education in the workplace is seldom a bad idea. When people can be anonymous they will frequently be very honest. Do not exercise this option if you are afraid of what you might hear, as you will probably hear it.

One last way to get people to accept the FSMA training is to “slip it in,” so to speak. There is some required annual refresher safety training for most workplaces through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA. Add the FSMA training classes in with the safety training and allow them to reinforce each other. This is also a good time to look at the Food Defense requirements under FSMA to see if more attention should be paid to training associates on how to react to attempted acts of terrorism, espionage or assault.

Overall, employees in operations that manufacture, process, pack or hold food intended for consumption by either humans or animals in the United States are being required to create and maintain many new records to demonstrate their compliance with FSMA. It is crucial to get employee buy-in to the requirements so that records are kept properly and completely. This eliminates the potential for nasty surprises during audits and inspections. If employees are engaged and care about the company, the chances of these types of surprises is greatly reduced. Treat your workforce well and they will return the favor!

About The Author

Erika Miller


  1. Geoff Sanford

    Hi Erika,
    Interesting article and comments made in regard to FSMA. You absolutely nailed it when you indicated the importance of the regulations but as well, the negative persona it brings to employees exposed to evolving processes and change to their day to day operations.

    If interested, check out our company, Iron Apple International ( as we specialize in online FSMA training and online food safety program (HACCP/PCP based) for food transporters/shippers.

    Geoff Sanford

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