Teaching Complex Tasks through Flexible, Consistent Training Programs
Q&A with Food Quality Expert Gene Barnard
Food safety and manufacturing professionals are facing another tough year ahead with a shaky economy, stubborn labor shortages, a fragile supply chain, and new FDA food traceability record-keeping requirements. Gene Barnard knows first-hand the importance of creating food safety and quality training programs that educate and engage valuable frontline employees.
Gene has worked as a food quality expert for more than 25 years with companies like The Gluten Free Bar, Arbre Farms, Heath Outdoor Products, Graham Packaging and now with Hearthside Food Solutions. During much of this time, Gene has worked with Intertek Alchemy to develop and deliver food safety and quality training programs.
We asked him to share his insights and experience with Intertek Alchemy training solutions. Watch the video, and read additional insights below.
Food quality manager Gene Barnard shares his experience with Intertek Alchemy
Intertek Alchemy: Can you tell us a little bit about your recent experience in ensuring food quality and training?
Gene Barnard: Quality directors typically manage the training process, often picking out the training materials for the year. In the past, while working with smaller companies, I actually have a hand in delivering the training as well.
For years, I’ve used Alchemy as a consistent training platform for employees. Each time I deliver training material through the platform, the messaging is always consistent. It takes very complicated quality systems and breaks them down into easy-to-understand chunks that any employee can understand.
Simplicity is one of the most valuable aspects of the programs we’ve initiated with Intertek Alchemy. It’s so easy to set up that anyone can do it. We’re able to do one-on-one training, online training, or hybrid. The material provides relevant examples in multiple formats that every employee can understand.
Intertek Alchemy: How does Intertek Alchemy make your training easy to understand?
Gene Barnard: The training itself is engaging and well-documented, which is something that is required with any food safety or OSHA program. I deal with both quality training and workplace safety. Many of these auditing bodies don’t just want to know that you’ve completed training, but that it also resonates with your employees and that it is being understood. Conducting testing throughout these courses and at the end helps to demonstrate that employees understand what they’re learning.
When I’m placed on the spot in front of an auditor or a customer who is asking about our training program, the fact that all of my training reports are in one place makes it really simple. I can just go to the Alchemy Manager run report and everything is right there in one spot.
Intertek Alchemy: Has Intertek Alchemy proven to be easy to use in other aspects? Is it relatively easy to set up for your teams?
Gene Barnard: From my experience, the Alchemy platform is very simple to use, which frees up a lot of time for me. I only need to spend a few minutes training a supervisor on how to use the platform and deliver the content. And because everything is pre-recorded and professionally done, it’s the same content delivered the same way each time.
Intertek Alchemy: It sounds like you’ve used these programs extensively in the past. Do they have any feedback mechanisms in place to ensure training stays relevant?
Barnard: Alchemy has been very responsive in taking feedback from customers that have frontline employees. All it takes is for a customer to say, “Hey, I’d like to do this type of training” or “I’d like to have training on this topic,” and Alchemy can make that happen. That is tremendously valuable because a lot of us are not professionals at developing courses. And when I can give Alchemy guidance and suggestions, many others in the industry are able to get that same sort of valuable training.
I’ve also had the opportunity to be on Alchemy’s content expertise board for a few years now, and it’s really exciting to talk directly with Alchemy experts about what courses are going to be coming out and what updates they’re making to existing courses. It makes me feel valued as a customer when I see that new courses are being rolled out and that I have a chance to participate in the review process. The bottom line is that Intertek Alchemy does listen, and they put things into place that come directly from their customers.