The key to implementing an effective HACCP food safety system is education, consistency, and making sure each team member plays their respective roles. A weak link can make the entire chain break, which is why engaging each member is essential.
In food-handling environments, food safety can often be seen as the enemy; these steps can slow down the process and be seen as unnecessary or “too detailed” by many. However, as you are the one running the business, it will be crucial for you to recognize those not following through, and try to engage them so that you can benefit from an effective food safety system.
- Set Objectives - Although the overall food safety of your business may be difficult to measure, it is also essential in developing proper practices. An analysis of how close you are to reaching your set goals can include the consideration of audit grades, customer complaints, non-conformances within the team, reports (such as reporting offered by Zip HACCP software), as well as general news and updates.
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It can also be based on the staff by gauging their experience, education, and knowledge of HACCP food safety practices and whether or not they are adequately applying said education. The length of time a particular employee has been working in the food industry will be a factor in these considerations. For example, new employees may have taken a course on HACCP food safety practices, but as they do not have much practice in implementing these procedures, they will not be as experienced.
- Management Support - It’s crucial to have top management support if you want a properly-functioning HACCP plan, food safety, and sanitation practices. To engage your team members in proper safety practices, the plan must have a trickle-down effect. You will need to start at the very top of management and set the tone in every regard to how your business is run, the culture, and the standards by which you abide. For example, HACCP food safety standards. This typically includes HR, operations, and finance departments who have never really needed to understand food safety, due to the jobs that they hold. However, the more engaged these members are (or at least appear to be) in the education of these practices, the more the rest of the staff will be, in turn.
The top management members typically know to be on the lookout for waste and downtime, as those affect them directly. They also know how important food safety is, but they are often not trained on which questions to ask and what signs to look for. By creating a solid strategy between management and the rest of the team members, it will enable the upper management to hear concerns or questions about safety and allow for a better understanding and collaborative efforts in problem-solving.
- Create Awareness - Creating awareness consists of many different aspects. There are various types of people that will be involved in your business and HACCP food safety teams, along with various responsibilities, levels of experiences, and ways in which they learn. This means that each person will have a different perspective of HACCP food safety in the way in which it relates to their particular role.
By utilizing various methods of awareness, the entire HACCP food safety operation will run more smoothly. These methods can include messaging boards with lessons of food recalls, customers, and more. They can also include photos of internal results, recognizing those who have made an effort to increase food safety, or just including food safety facts in team huddles before shifts begin.
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- Develop and Implement Games or Challenges - Everyone is more engaged when it involves competition or some “fun.” Engaging team members in positive HACCP food safety practices are not the most entertaining thing that most people want to listen to or go out of their way to take part of, which is why creating games can be so effective. While there will undoubtedly be team members who will do the correct thing because of integrity, there will be others who will look past it or are too lazy to do these extra steps. However, many people thrive in environments where they have the potential of “winning.” Games or other challenging activities build employee engagement and help maintain interest in a common goal. This approach achieves both team building and habit building traits within your business, which is sure to reap benefits for you.
For example, if staff is seen performing their role in the HACCP food safety plan effectively, they could be entered into a monthly drawing for a prize, or be given a piece of candy. It doesn’t have to seem elaborate, but it can have a huge effect on employee engagement.
- Provide Feedback - There will undoubtedly be diverse types of people who make up your team. Some will not respond well to any criticism and do not like feedback unless it is positive. Generally speaking, the vast majority of people like to know what is the right way and also want to know what this “right” consists of. In contrast, they also want to know what is incorrect, and want to know what they can do to solve the problem should one arise. By providing feedback, whether positive or negative, it can encourage positive HACCP food safety practices, as well as help build your team members’ self-esteem.
No matter what level your business is on as far as HACCP food safety, compliance, and food handling procedures go, they can always be improved upon through employee engagement and awareness. The way your business shows its safety values, as well as outward attitudes and behaviors, will greatly affect your success. And if used correctly, can greatly improve positive HACCP food safety practices. By creating an environment where education is encouraged, communication is open and honest, and upper management all the way down is seen as engaged and concerned, you won’t have to worry about food safety is a problem. Bottom line, your guests will be able to positively enjoy their experiences to the absolute fullest.