The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our readers insight into the state of food
safety concerns across the industry. We received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on employee training.
By Jesse Osborne, Editor
An engaged and educated workforce is a key component for success in the food manufacturing industry.
And it is also a crucial ingredient as it
relates to food safety.
We recently surveyed Food
Manufacturing readers from across the
industry on trends, topics and considerations as it relates to employee training.
Survey respondents reported that their
plants have seen a direct correlation
between more training and several key
areas of their operations. Those include:
Fewer mistakes, better product quality
( 35. 8 percent), better food safety ( 14. 8),
higher efficiency ( 13. 6), fewer worker injuries ( 12. 5), higher employee morale ( 7.95)
and lower turnover ( 6. 8).
While more than 52 percent of those
surveyed reported that training is ongoing
at their facilities, 18. 4 percent reported
that the average length of time their plant
spends training news employees is two-to-three weeks. Slightly more than 15 percent
said that new employees receive one week
of training, while just shy of 14 percent
reported that new employees receive a few
days of training.
Those surveyed reported that employees
undergo various types of training at their
facilities. They include:
• Equipment specific training — 89.9%
• Industrial safety — 83.2%
• Mandated workplace training — 78.2%
• Compliance training — 64.8%
• Company background/mission — 51%
• Maintenance procedures — 50.8%
Respondents also noted several types of
training tools that are used in their respective plants. Those include:
• In-plant instruction — 81.6%
• Handouts/manuals — 68.7%
• Group instruction — 67%
• Videos — 59.8%
• Web-based programs — 30.7%
• Outside classes — 24%
When asked what their plant’s biggest
obstacle is when it comes to plant floor
employee training, 31. 5 percent indicated
training costs. High turnover was noted
by 29. 8 percent, while slightly more than
16 percent cited a language barrier. More
than 21 percent of those surveyed selected
“other” in this category, and when asked to
specify a reason, many noted time considerations as the biggest obstacle.
Lack of time for training was cited by
51.1 percent of those surveyed as the
greatest challenge relating to food safety
and employee training, while difficulty with
employee buy-in was mentioned by 24. 7
percent. Just less than 13 percent reported
a language barrier, and 7. 9 percent cited
an unwillingness from upper management to implement food safety training
When asked what the most difficult part
of their plant’s employment process is,
30. 3 percent indicated training, with 27. 5
percent citing retention. More than 26 percent of those surveyed indicted recruiting,
with 13. 5 percent reporting hiring.
In terms of plant floor employee reten-
tion, more than 28 percent reported that
their employees stay an average of 3-5
years, while more than 22 percent indi-
cated 1-2 years. Just more than 20 per-
cent said their facility retains plant floor
employees for an average of 10 years or
more, while more than 16 percent cited
6-10 years. More than 11 percent reported
retaining plant floor employees for six
months or less, on average.
When asked what has been the most
successful staffing method for their plant,
more than 37 percent indicated employee
referrals, with more than 26 percent citing
outside employment agencies. Nearly 14
percent reported advertising in local newspaper, and 10. 6 percent indicated the use
of online jobsites. An additional 8. 4 percent
cited specific-to-industry online jobsites.
Nearly 56 percent of those surveyed
said the current economic climate has not
caused their facilities to cut back on the
number of employees. Just more than 44
percent said it had.
More than 84 percent of those polled
said their facilities often advance workers
to plant jobs that involve higher skill levels
once they become proficient.
Lastly, two-thirds of those surveyed said
their facilities involve plant floor employees in Hazard Analysis and Critical Control
Points planning and food safety protocol
development. The remaining one-third said
that is not the case.