This past summer, we’ve talked a lot about food safety and inspections. It’s a subject that is not taken lightly in the foodservice industry, especially as a manager, supervisor, or anyone in a more prominent position. As someone who has previously worked in the industry herself, I’ve seen first hand how easy it is for those who are more likely to handle the food not take food safety seriously. Ironic isn’t it? Those who are more likely to sit at a desk are more likely to change their single-use gloves, or even use them at all.
I am not saying this to call anyone out by any means. I am, however, being realistic by acknowledging that not everyone is as motivated to demonstrate proper food handling procedures as we would like them to be. That is why I have come up with a list of ways for you to inspire your staff to want to follow these procedures.
8 Ideas for Inspiration
1) Be their role model
It’s hard to convince someone why they should follow any rule if you aren’t following them yourself. Take a step back and make sure you are exhibiting the behaviors you want your staff to mirror.
2) Stay on message
Like any other business, your staff will be hearing from multiple managers each day. Those managers will be hearing from different directors, and so forth. It’s crucial that any message you want to be communicated to your staff be consistent. This ties back into tip number one. They need to take food safety just as seriously as you want your staff to. Otherwise, you will have that one manager who lets things slide, or tells your staff some things aren’t to be worried about. This obviously results in mixed messages and can also result in your staff choosing the message where there aren’t rules to follow. See below for an example.
3) Use visual reminders
Having posters put up throughout your kitchens can make a huge impact when it comes to food safety. Not only do they promote the correct way to do things, but they can explain why it’s so important! Make posters to remind your staff about foodborne illnesses, how easily they can spread, and what they can do to prevent the spread of them.
4) Consider a disciplinary process
This may not exactly inspire your staff, but many people don’t like getting in trouble. Realistically, not following food safety practices can result in serious consequences naturally. Students can get sick, you can face serious fines, bad PR, lawsuits, etc. If this is something an individual is unaware of, let them know they could receive a verbal or written warning.
5) …or better yet, consider using more positive reinforcement
Alternatively, you can reward your employees. Of course, you can’t give everyone a gold star for each and every time they wash their hands. But think about those employees who always show up in proper uniform. Their aprons are always clean, they always wear a hairnet, and you never have to remind them to put on single-use gloves. What would be a good way to reward them? A $5 gift card to Starbucks? Recognize them as Lunch Lady/Food Dude of the day?
6) Have your staff take ownership of the safety process
During your weekly or monthly staff training, ask your staff what the team could improve on. Anyone who makes a suggestion will be the first to make a change with others soon to follow.
7) Utilize their feedback
It’s important to note that some staff members may have some feedback towards you regarding food safety procedures. This doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong, but that your team is looking out for you the same way you are looking out for them. Don’t let this upset you and use their feedback to improve. This way when you have feedback for them, they will return the favor.
8) Develop games or challenges
If all else fails, use people’s competitive side. While visiting one of our customers, they showed us a few of their “Silver Spoon” awards. These awards are given out to sites who made a perfect 100 on their last health inspection. So even those sites who got a 99 for example, will get very bummed out about missing that one single point. These awards are handed out at the district’s banquet, so all the other sites can see who will be receiving an award that evening.
I want to stress that the lack of motivation in practicing food safety procedures is not a constant in all food handlers and that not all managers or supervisors exhibit perfection either. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The key here is group effort. The spread of foodborne illnesses can only be prevented as long as everyone is trying their best and motivated to do so. Don’t let anyone fall through the cracks. Check in on your kitchens frequently and have the right tools available so you can keep track of every detail.