The Perils of PowerPoint: New Ways to Boost Engagement in Food Safety Training

By Lute Atieh

In the world of food safety training, the battle against boredom is real, and PowerPoint presentations are the sworn enemy. Picture this: employees are dozing off faster than you can say “Death by PowerPoint.” This is why it’s crucial for organizations to step up their training game with technology.

The pitfalls of current training methods are many. PowerPoints are a guaranteed way to hinder effectiveness and produce a disengaged employee. In this article, we will focus on six ways to improve your training that range from Do-It-Yourself (DIY) fixes to getting outside assistance to add a little style and impact to your training materials.

Gradual Rollout and New Employee Focus

Introducing new training methods gradually and focusing your efforts primarily on new hires will have the greatest impact in the least amount of time. You can easily minimize resistance from seasoned employees and are able to set a standard with newer employees, while also seeing how their performance changes over time versus existing employees. New employees won’t know there was a previous method and to them, this is all that exists. Going with new hires first is a great way to start improving engagement.

PowerPoints are a guaranteed way to hinder effectiveness and produce a disengaged employee.

Nail Your Opening

The first thing you must nail is a strong showing for your mission, vision, and culture. Companies, whether small or large, should hire a good video production company and spend $3-5k on a 2–3-minute mission, vision culture video designed for your employees to watch on their first day, within the first five minutes of training. Set the tone early, build that relationship immediately. Training is hard – it’s even harder when you don’t have a relationship established.

Plug and Play Interactive eLearning Modules

When possible, find content providers that have a published catalog that can replace subjects in your new hire orientation slide deck and your annual compliance training. This allows you to divide and conquer, by putting your training in a format that can be consumed on a tablet or PC.

DIY Videos for Your Facility

If you are budget-sensitive during the testing phases of this project, an effortless way to test your new method of training is to use a smart phone and take short video clips of specific things in your facility that you want to call attention to. One example could be a well-known trip hazard or an area where there are recurring food safety issues. Don’t worry about capturing audio, you can do a voiceover later from your desk, or hire a low-cost voice service to complete the video. Pro Tip: You Can Also do This in Different Languages.

1-to-1 Training vs Classroom, or Hybrid

If your whole orientation process is in front of a PowerPoint, consider breaking it up into segments.

  • Segment 1 could be an in-person introduction.
  • Segment 2 can be your new mission, vision, culture video.
  • Segment 3 can be a tour or product overview of what you create.

Then you can break out into tablet-based training for some of the more detailed, skills-based training on topics such as food safety, the emergency action plan, and other issues that are best done 1-to-1. Employees can replay them as needed, engage with them often, and even complete a 2- or 3-question quiz at the end of each section to increase information retention. The goal is to include a mix of media and keep the employee engaged with the content – all things that don’t work successfully with the PowerPoint method.

Tell a Story

Featuring employees within your facility is a great way to add value to your new hire onboarding. Talk about the non-profit support that your company provides. Brag about your best employee policies, and even talk about the economic impact of your company on the local community. Stories allow your employees to relate and connect to the organization. Spending some time mixing up your training to include relevant, impactful, and emotionally engaging content with make the story resonate with your employees.

Avoiding “Death by PowerPoint” in food safety training is about reimagining the entire training landscape. Embracing technology and modern training approaches has proven to improve employee engagement and be a better return on your investment.

As organizations continue to evolve, the investment in innovative training methods promises not only compliance but a workforce that is empowered, informed, and enthusiastic about their job. Taking the risk with recent technologies can be daunting but have some fun with it, when all else fails, call in a professional to help improve what you have started.

About the author:

Lute Atieh is one of the founders and Director of Business Development with WorkForge (formerly Valor Manufacturing Training). He has over 20 years of experience in higher education and training and was co-founder of the first 100 percent online school to be approved and accredited in Missouri. WorkForge aims to strengthen American manufacturing and our communities by providing engaging digital workforce development solutions. 

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