Contact Us
Search Icon
A group of business people sit in a row in a training class and taking note
  • Blog
    Food & Retail

Empower your Team: developing a Strong Culture through Effective Training

Effective training cultivates culture, identifies gaps, and utilizes active learning strategies for improved retention and performance.

At the heart of every successful business lies its people. Their values, beliefs, and behaviors shape the organizational culture from top to bottom, influencing every decision and determining the company's success. This is where effective training plays a pivotal role. It serves as the bedrock for nurturing a mature organizational culture, one that is vital for fostering a robust food safety culture.

However, results from the 2024 Global Training survey (Campden BRI and Intertek Alchemy), highlight how some of the fundamental requirements for effective training are being missed. Let’s examine just a few of the key findings from the 3000 industry responses, and why these matter.

Firstly, let’s look at how training is organised and delivered:

• 24% of companies do not have a competency framework in place.
• 46% of organizations don’t use a formal Training Needs Assessment to identify needs, gaps, and priorities for their employees.

These statistics highlight the opportunities missed by some companies to improve their performance and develop more robust organizational cultures. A competency framework provides the foundation for identifying the skills and behaviours necessary for success within an organization, while a training needs assessment helps identify gaps between employees' current capabilities and the desired competencies. By aligning training initiatives with the competency framework and addressing identified skill gaps, organizations can effectively develop their workforce to meet current and future challenges.

If companies aren’t using competency frameworks, it is much more difficult to plan effectively for staffing, recruitment, and succession planning.

A training needs assessment aligned with this competency framework will identify gaps between employees' current skills, knowledge, and abilities and the skills and knowledge required to perform their jobs effectively. It enables business managers to decide what training programs or interventions are necessary to enhance employee performance and achieve organizational goals.
Having an effective training plan will enable your business to utilize your training budget to have the most impact. You’ll be able to focus training where it’s needed most and target the type of training that is most suitable, so it’s relevant for individual learners.

This strategy has many other benefits. Investing in training that addresses employees' needs actively demonstrates your company's commitment to their development and growth, so they’re more likely to be engaged and satisfied, supported in enhancing their skills and advancing their careers.
Addressing skill gaps through targeted training can lead to improved employee performance and productivity. When employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively, they are better equipped to meet job requirements and contribute to your company's success.

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, companies must adapt to changes in technology, industry trends, and regulations. A training needs assessment helps in identifying emerging skill requirements and ensuring that employees are equipped to navigate these changes effectively through targeted training.

Turning to training delivery, the survey identified several methods used by companies to train workers, all of which can be effective if underpinned by thoughtful and strategic approaches and a good understanding of what is needed for effective learning and knowledge retention. The end goal is not to check off that everyone attended training! We train to change behaviour, to embed skills and so increase performance.

The survey showed that the most popular methods used to train managers were read to learn (e.g. standard operating procedures, policies), eLearning and instructor-led training.

For frontline and seasonal/temporary workers the top methods were on-the-job supervisor coaching, read to learn and peer-to-peer training. Supervisors were trained in similar ways, but instructor-led training was more widely used than peer-to-peer training.

These methods can be effective; however the results of further questioning demonstrate that they are not working well across the industry - 73% of those surveyed worried that despite their training efforts, they still have employees not following established protocols on the floor.

The main reason for this was cited as employees ‘prefer doing things the old way’ (56% of respondents), ‘supervisors do not exhibit correct behaviours’ (25%) and ‘employee was not trained correctly by a peer’ (24%).

Learning and culture are inextricably intertwined – perfectly demonstrated when existing employees are training new hires or are involved in continuous training/mentoring for their teams. If their current normal behaviours don’t align with the intended culture (and training goals), employees won’t train the correct behaviours or skills. Changing the culture is a gradual process of Plan, Do, Check, Act, and one that relies on consistently good training, embedded as part of the working day. Training your mind annually is like going to the gym annually – it won’t have the desired result.

There are many opportunities here to improve these outcomes, to keep learning embedded throughout the organization. One example is to offer supervisor mentoring and training, to better equip them to deliver training or refresher sessions and support them to mentor staff as they learn their roles.

Other reasons for the training program not being followed were cited as ‘they don’t remember training’ (31%). Learning retention is an issue that all learning and development professionals aim to improve through different methods. Studies reference the ‘forgetting curve’, which is based on studies by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. Learning theory has concluded that learners will forget 90% of what they learned after 7 days, unless they do something to retain it. The ‘something’ should be active rather than passive – reading a document results in far less retention of knowledge (about 10% is retained), whereas simulations enable 75% retention, and teaching another what you have learned results in 90% retention (CPD, UK). Also, the activities need to be frequent and consistent, to disrupt the ‘forgetting curve’ and embed the knowledge and skills.

Learners are individuals and in this fast-paced industry, it is challenging to design effective learning programs. Staff attrition is known to be high in the food and retail sector, in many regions across the world. Research from Zellis, reported in The Grocer (UK) identified that 55% of food manufacturing staff intended to leave the industry within two years. Pay, benefits and training were the key factors for employers to focus on improving - 31% of respondents said training and development were key to feeling positive and driven by their work, and 28% of employees said they would leave their company because of poor training and skills development.

So, as the data demonstrates, by investing in training their workers, companies can do more to retain staff, by developing their knowledge and skills to strengthen culture. They can also make more informed choices on their training spend, to make training much more effective, prevent issues and recalls through non-compliance, and achieve their desired results.

For free information and guidance on developing your organization’s food safety culture please download PAS 320 – Developing and sustaining a mature food safety culture - Guide.

For more information on BSI training courses please click here.