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When it comes to workplace learning, Conrad Gottfredson, PhD, and Bob Mosher, two well-known performance support experts, have defined five distinct moments of need:
- When learning for the first time,
- When learning more,
- When remembering and/or applying what’s been learned,
- When things go wrong, and
- When things change.
When you know these five moments, it is easier to see how you can fit training into your production schedule. We’re starting this series with the need for training when people are learning for the first time, and in the coming months, we will take a closer look at each of the other moments.
The classic example of this type of learning is onboarding training for new hires. The goal is to help employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become productive workers. In the food industry, we can include an additional goal: helping them become safe food workers. There’s no need to reiterate why you do not want your company to suffer through the misery of a recall. Ensuring new employees clearly understand their responsibilities is crucial.
It is a lesson that was learned the hard way by a major bakery facility. The company decided it was unnecessary to invest in food safety training for temporary hires as they were only employed in the packaging room. The day the company found a temporary worker with a pocketful of peanuts and had to destroy the full shift’s production is the day it revisited that decision.
Contrast this to a company that has developed a full complement of onboarding programs, from food safety training for contractors and visitors, to introductory food safety training for all staff, to specialized streams for supervisors and line personnel. Simple, to-the-point programs delivered by trained internal staff has ensured that the food safety awareness is woven into every person’s DNA the moment they enter the facility.
What Must Be Included
Basic Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) training for all employees is critical. It remains the best line of defense against the introduction of unnecessary hazards. GMP training covers the daily activities associated with food safety programs: health and hygiene, cross-contamination avoidance, sanitation, tools, and equipment. Your company’s food safety policies, standards, and expectations must also be included. For those with more direct food safety job responsibilities—for example HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) team members or CCP owners—training must include topics such as monitoring, corrective action procedures and risk assessment.
A word of caution: Do not overload your new hires. Trying to cover every detail of every practice or procedure in a company’s arsenal is counter-productive. New employees are in a stressful situation, which means they are not optimally primed to learn new things. When they are bombarded with information, they will not be able to take it all in. It’s most likely that, by the end of training, new hires will have forgotten most of the information that was presented. The following actions can address this problem.
Start as early as possible. Send out any introductory food safety material, either online or printed, before the new hire even begins work. This serves the dual purpose of introducing the person to concepts of food safety and ensuring that the importance of this topic is quickly underscored.
Provide a blend of training channels. Classroom training is important, but when it is teamed with peer coaching, virtual discussion boards, or an online information portal, the effectiveness of training increases dramatically. Remember that training is not just about teaching someone new information; it’s about showing them how to find answers when they have questions.