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Training Beyond Onboarding: Filling the Gaps in Food Manufacturing

By Intertek Alchemy   |   

Food safety training has made great strides in the last several years, especially in onboarding, as more companies recognize the role strong employee engagement plays in successful training programs. Yet, a big opportunity still exists to increase engagement and ensure initial training is applied long after onboarding is finished: refresher trainings. These reinforcements can be delivered in several ways, and should be designed to maximize effectiveness and minimize time off the floor. 

Holding short 5-7-minute learning sessions, or “bursts,” that reinforce initial onboarding keeps key concepts top of mind by creating a continuous learning environment. Among most food manufacturers, however, finding the time for refreshers is easier said than done. According to the new Global Food Safety Training Survey, the top three food safety training challenges are scheduling time for training, verifying effective training, and organizing refresher training.

A significant challenge in training is always finding the time, as training often cuts into production hours. This is one reason why many training programs rely heavily on onboarding to deliver key safety concepts. Unfortunately, this “spray and pray” method of training, which amounts to showering the employee with important messaging and hoping it sticks, means some critical information may slip through the cracks. Refresher training that repeats and reinforces knowledge is more likely to remain “fresh” in the employee’s mind, resulting in smart action at work.

It’s not surprising the same research also finds that “late or lack of refresher training” is among the most frequent training deficiencies cited in audits. To combat this, more forward-thinking companies are looking beyond traditional one-way methods of training to using multi-channel methods, like breakroom videos and mobile supervisor coaching apps.

The Global Food Safety Training Survey also reports more than three quarters of food companies still rely on written materials to train frontline employees. Unfortunately, this method is often ineffective because today’s workforce learns differently. Modern workers rely on technology and digital tools for gaining knowledge, experience more distractions, and learn best when forced to interact by demonstrating understanding.


A Multi-Channel Approach to Training

A multi-channel approach that incorporates refresher training is your best bet. Effective reinforcement can be conducted in several ways:

  • Mini videos played on a continuous loop in breakrooms and other high-traffic areas
  • Eye-catching, multi-lingual posters that are rotated to feature known trouble areas
  • “Huddle guides” that offer pre-written scripts for supervisors to emphasize important concepts before or during shifts.
  • Mobile coaching tools that equip supervisors with pre-scheduled “observations” to verify – and reward – correct behaviors.

The sum result of these refreshers is greater magnified when each component is coordinated to the same topics and visual cues.

“We use Alchemy posters, digital videos, and huddle guides, along with the training that we do monthly, to really reinforce topics that we cover and drive the safety culture throughout our organization,” said Amanda Moss, HR Manager of Chudleigh’s.


Create a Continuous Learning Environment

Chudleigh’s isn’t the only food manufacturer seeing success from a continuous learning environment. When Green Valley Pecan Company implemented regular refresher trainings, it experienced a 17% increase in training retention across its workforce. More importantly, it saw a 36% increase in knowledge retention among workers who needed it most. Overall, leading companies who incorporate refreshers into their training programs see the best results.

Alchemy’s integrated training and reinforcement programs go beyond the traditional “set it and forget it” approach. Reinforcement cements training, building confidence in frontline workers to take smart action on the floor 100% of the time. Learn more about how Alchemy’s multi-channel training solutions can work for your company.

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