Creating a Culture of Food Safety in Your Organization
Talking about food safety at an occasional meeting or conference is one thing. However, making food safety a part of your organization’s culture is another. In today’s marketplace, though, you can’t afford to not develop a culture of food safety. It’s too important and could mean the difference between a thriving company and one that’s overshadowed by the competition.
Why Food Safety Matters
Food safety obviously matters, but have you ever paused to consider the far-reaching effects of a commitment to better safety procedures? There’s a lot more than initially meets the eye.
Most importantly, food safety matters because it directly impacts the health and wellness of your customers. Selling food that’s contaminated or compromised in one way or another can lead to serious illness or even death in certain circumstances. But food safety extends far beyond health. You also have to think about brand image and reputation. When companies have to perform a food recall, the brand reels as a result. Just consider how long it took Jack in the Box to recover after the 1993 outbreak of E. coli.
The third major reason why food safety matters has to do with employee buy-in. When employees know you’re committed to quality in every facet of the organization, they take their jobs more seriously and are less likely to take chances that put the company at risk.
The Challenge of Revamping Company Culture
You may not think you have an issue with food safety in your company, but if food safety isn’t one of your big priorities, then you’re falling behind. It isn’t something that goes on a bulletin board poster in the break room. Food safety must encompass an entire culture in order to be successful.
“The hard part is accepting how resilient culture is,” business consultant Geoff Schaadt says. “Because culture defines a globally accepted template for action within an organization, by its nature it exists to resist change. This is the critical point every leader must clearly understand: There is no aspect of a company that is more difficult to change than the culture.”
In other words, you’re committing to a long-term process when you make the important decision to create a culture of food safety. As Schaadt notes, “It will require time, perseverance and committed leadership. There will be resistance, much of it passive and well hidden, and there will be failure.” But if you go into it recognizing the many benefits that a commitment to food safety affords your business and customers, you’ll recognize the validity of the pursuit.
How to Create a Culture of Food Safety
Creating a culture of food safety where none existed is a daunting task – we won’t sugarcoat it – but it’s far from impossible. With the right strategy, you can begin gently pushing your organization in the right direction.
Get Buy-in From the Top
It all starts from the top. If you want to change the culture, those in power must buy in to the fullest degree. They also need to recognize that it won’t be easy. In fact, it could be the most difficult challenge they’ll face in a number of years. But the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel will make it worth it.
It’s important to note that buy-in doesn’t just mean nodding your head and agreeing that a shift in culture is a good idea. The rest of the organization will be watching the executive suite. If company leadership doesn’t walk-the-walk, then the message will fall on deaf ears.
Instill Urgency (Without Overwhelming)
It takes years to create lasting culture change, but that doesn’t mean you take things easy and settle for slow results. Urgency is necessary and it’s virtually impossible to instigate change without it.
“Complacency is widely acknowledged as the enemy of change,” Schaadt says. “The executive leadership, supported by the guiding coalition, will be instrumental in creating a sense of urgency among the larger group. However, there must be a certain balance in creating urgency without also creating excessive anxiety.”
Constantly Revisit Processes
You’ll come up with a few strategic choices and new processes that you believe will fit your new culture, but all of them won’t work. That’s why you need to be committed to constantly revisiting processes and evaluating them based on quantifiable results and subjective feedback from employees.
From a quantifiable perspective, you should be collecting data and using key performance indicators (KPIs) to study what’s happening. As far as the subjective analysis goes, creating a smooth feedback loop for employees to utilize is a good starting point.
Use the Right Tools
We’re operating in a modern business world with access to a variety of technologies. When it comes to creating a culture of food safety in your company, you need to make it as easy as possible for every stakeholder to buy-in. This means providing them with the right tools and resources.
A manual approach to food safety is not only impractical, but it’s also frustratingly time consuming. Employees will not respect your food safety goals if you aren’t making it easy on them to participate. Find a suite of tools that works for your company and tailor them to your needs. This is a critically important step that can’t be forgotten.
Contact FoodLogiQ Today
In order to build and maintain a food safety culture in your organization, visibility is a must. You need the ability to see what’s going on and correct issues before they become problems. At FoodLogiQ, it’s our primary goal to help you obtain a level of discernibility that you’ve never had before.
When you choose to use the FoodLogiQ platform, you instantly become empowered through true end-to-end traceability across the supply chain. Suddenly, you can address food safety issues when they occur and never worry about being kept in the dark.