An effective food industry training program is the cornerstone of a high performing food production or manufacturing facility. Providing the basic knowledge and reinforcing concepts for frontline workers are just two critically important facets of a well-thought-out training system. Here are ten ideas to round out an integrated training program and fully engage your workforce:
- Set learning objectives—first, determine what the key points or factors are that will be influenced by this knowledge exchange and how the outcomes will be measured.
- Create the content—tailor the training information to the specific audience for maximum absorption and comprehension. Consider language needs, education levels, etc.
- Deliver the content—ensure the medium of delivery is conducive to learning. Keep the message relevant to the workers’ level of comprehension and use real-life examples that they can relate to are best practices.
- Keep training top of mind—use awareness programs as visual and audio prompts to keep the topic out in front of the organization. When everyone sees the same message, talks the talk, and walks the walk, it makes it harder for the individual leaner to forget what needs to be done and how to do it.
- Verify comprehension—use testing, observation, and constructive feedback to help employees apply what they have been taught. Be sure that feedback is constructive, not punitive, and is delivered and documented in real time for maximum effectiveness and greater adoption by the worker.
- Track and trend using metrics—Measurement of desired outcomes should be used as a yardstick to help determine whether the content, delivery, and application of the training is on track or needs course correction.
- Never pass up an opportunity to train—refresher training on a regular basis is necessary for any program to be effective. Retraining is also very impactful when used as a corrective action or as part of an investigative process.
- Keep it fun—capture the learner’s attention by using bright, colorful presentations, games, or gamified formats, and some light humor doesn’t hurt. A little friendly competition between departments is a great way to engage your workforce while promoting the learning process.
- Use positive reinforcement—employees who absorb and apply what they’ve been trained on need to be recognized and their behavior should be reinforced. Don’t just say thank you—recognize the positive impact of their good work habits and explain how their application of those work habits has resulted in good outcomes.
- Hold people accountable—employees that are unwilling to follow training principles need to be held accountable with appropriate consequences. Make sure they know in advance what the consequences are. Holding all employees to the same level of accountability will drive continuous improvement and strengthen the overall training program.
These ten basic training concepts will provide an excellent foundation to support programs across your food organization and help ensure consistency, accountability, and employee engagement.