Employee Training – Step One: The Problem

You’re in charge of training new employees. There’s pressure to be quick and effective: training is expensive and unproductive time away from work. The assignment is to produce motivated, effective, and knowledgeable workers rapidly and cheaply, workers who won’t leave in the next two weeks.

It’s tempting to hire ‘experienced’ people, have them watch a set of videos, assign them to observe one of your employees for a week and pray the next inspection or audit goes well. Another approach might be to have them attend a series of lectures and obtain a certificate.

These two approaches are often used and often fail. While they are convenient, efficient, and financially practical, successful graduation does not necessarily translate into effective use in the real world. (Clearly many people learn concepts best in a structured class environment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, takes the place of observing the skill modeled by an expert and having the chance to practice it to gain mastery.) A graduate might fail exam questions concerning major food safety concepts or face practical challenges using the information in the workplace.

Classroom training provides important knowledge to employees about their job. It is an attractive approach in that the programs, materials and videos are already developed. It is also an important first step to the employee’s understanding of food safety concerns. Managers and supervisors are not called away from their work to participate.

The fact that inspections and audits show continual food safety problems, however, should raise concerns that training is incomplete. Or, in some cases where inspections are not showing concerns, the employee may have already known the information and the training was a wasted resource.

The next section of this posting describes the steps which must be included in any successful training program.