Empathy Key to Building a Strong Food Safety Culture

By Joan Martino

Is employee behaviour aligned with better food safety outcomes?

Unquestionably the answer is, “yes!” but it comes packaged along with a range of other important variables, such as policies, procedures, systems, food safety training, compensation and many other elements that are at work within a food organization. Without a doubt, the task of continually adapting to changing demands from external forces, and food safety standards and regulations, is a stressful part of a management or leadership role.

What about associates and workers? Can they be expected to change behaviours and adapt quickly?

In the workplace, organizational behaviour is often driven by circumstance and can also be tied to motivation and skill. It is important to recognize that the elements behind behaviour are not always negative. Many workers entering the marketplace are well ahead of the learning curve with regards to the use of applied technology, and they feel frustrated by working conditions that are behind the times and burdened by many discrete operations. The worker is not always at fault when deadlines are missed, poor quality product is produced or losses occur from scrap and rework imperatives. Continuously blaming them can be a demotivating factor that can negatively affect food safety outcomes.

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