With the announcement on September 19, 2014 of the released re-proposals to the main FSMA-related rules – Preventive Controls for both Human and Animal Food, the Produce Safety Rule, and the Foreign Supplier Verification Program – it is time to take another look at the real need within the food industry related to training and education.
The word ‘train’ in some form or format appears over 100 times in the Produce Safety rule and the Preventive Controls for Human Food documents. One Hundred Times! This is clear indication that it’s time to take another look at the training programs in place today.
When asked, managers and supervisors responsible for training today typically respond that their biggest challenges or needs are having the time and resources available to conduct meaningful training for the workforce. Gone are the days where a ‘good’ training program consisted of shoehorning a training session into a segment of line downtime and hoping for enough time to cover all the learning objectives. As regulatory and customer emphasis on employee empowerment and engagement continues to escalate – food industry training programs must grow and evolve.
Here are some basic areas that need the proper time and resource dedication for maximum impact:
- An analysis to determine gaps in the current training program should be very robust. Don’t skimp on the resources needed to do an effective job here. The use of this data is the first steps on the training journey and becomes the cornerstone as you build employee expertise.
- The development of content should not be under resourced at any step in the process. Content is critical in providing the ‘How’ and the ‘Why’ (Who, Where, and When too). Worry less about fitting the material into a specific time slot and more about the quality and applicability for the specific workforce audience.
- Partnering with a Subject Matter Expert or a content provider is an investment that will pay dividends as employees soak in the knowledge and ask for more.
- Delivering the content in an environment that is conducive to group training where there are now distractions, all questions and answers can be heard by the participants in another resource that is critical to the success of a robust and effective program. Learning labs for more one-on-one self-directed learners are another means of providing knowledge to the workforce without having to incur line downtime. An investment that will pay for itself in a relatively short period of time.
- Coaching employees for success in one of the best gifts that a supervisor or manager can provide. Constructively correcting incorrect behaviors and positively reinforcing good behaviors may take good people skills and a little extra time. Making it a habit costs very little and will provide a clear concise roadmap throughout the training process.
Training is a journey, not a destination. Teaching ‘how’ starts the journey – ‘why’ builds the culture. Spending time and resources for training should be a no-brainer for the food industry today. Stop looking at training as time spent losing operational effectiveness and start looking at training as the best investment you can make in your people, products and brands!
Hear the author speak more on Food Safety training at the Food Safety Consortium, November 17-18, 2014, Schaumburg, IL. Click here for more details and to register.