Training Manager’s Guide to Food Safety Training

This guide covers tips for effective food safety training and how to tackle some of the more common challenges faced by training managers.
Training Manager’s Guide to Food Safety Training
November 17, 2022

Food safety training is one of the most important components of any food or hospitality business, as these industries are heavily skill-based and compliance-driven. As many sectors are also customer-facing, it is that much more important to ensure businesses have solid training plans and staff. In this guide, CIFS examines some of the best tips for training managers, to help make their jobs a little easier.

The role of a training manager

A training manager’s responsibilities are varied and demanding, and they often involve a lot more than just training. Training managers are tasked with developing policies and procedures within HR, creating and executing training programs, and handling common resource challenges, like high staff turnover.

Here are some additional responsibilities of a training manager:

  • Hiring and training staff
  • Addressing employee concerns
  • Ensuring any HR policies are current and take into consideration any applicable legislation
  • Ensure food safety training compliance requirements are met
  • Engaging and motivating staff
  • Understanding the needs of each department (i.e. front-of-house vs. back-of-house in a restaurant) to ensure staffing levels and training are adequate

Great training managers are organized, passionate about learning and development, possess top-notch interpersonal skills, and have a keen eye for identifying training needs.

Tackling common training manager challenges

A training manager guide wouldn’t be complete without some tips and tricks for dealing with challenges most training managers have to face. From staffing to engagement, here are some of the most common challenges that training managers face:

Hiring and retaining staff

It should come as no surprise that this challenge is first on the list, as hiring – particularly in hospitality – can be an ongoing, never-ending process. 

When hiring staff, training managers should follow these recommendations:

  • Look for candidates in the right places: restaurant job boards, hotel social media channels and word-of-mouth are often more effective than generic postings on wide-ranging job sites. Put the effort where it is most likely to be seen by the target hiring demographic. 
  • Create a thorough job description: it’s important to ensure that training managers are filling the right role with the right person. In order to do that, it’s critical to provide a complete job description that correctly captures the needs of the role.
  • Build a solid training program: job-seekers are that much more likely to work for a company that has a solid training plan, so invest the time and resources to build one.
  • Encourage ongoing development: one of the largest motivating factors of someone staying in a role is the prospect of skill development or advancement. As a training manager, it’s important to build a structure that includes ongoing learning and development.

For more information, plus additional tips, see our related blog on Hiring and Retaining Staff

Fulfilling Seasonal Staff Needs

Many food businesses, especially in hospitality and retail, have peak seasons, such as the winter holidays, Easter, and summer. In addition to following the tips above when hiring staff, training managers should take a few other factors into account when hiring seasonal employees.

  1. Start early – the typical hiring cycle is 43 days, so training managers should build a work-back schedule and start the recruitment process well in advance 
  2. Consider incentives – as seasonal staff are often temporary, training managers should look for opportunities to enhance employment offerings
  3. Train in advance – given that seasonal staff begin work during the busiest times of the year, they will be much more effective if they are able to complete training before their first day, which is why online training like the CIFS Food Handler Course is a great option
  4. Don’t forget about orientation – it can be easy to overlook orientation, as temp staff are only around for a short period of time, but it’s important for training managers to include them in proper onboarding/orientation sessions, so they are fully engaged with the organization

For more tips, visit our related blog on 5 Tips for Hiring Seasonal Staff.

Keeping employees motivated to train

This may be one of the biggest challenges a training manager has to face. Managers can build the most solid training plan, but if employees aren’t excited about learning, they might drag their feet to complete their training requirements, or worse, just tick the necessary boxes, so the information won’t be retained. Then, in addition to having under-trained staff, training managers are faced with a morale issue.

Fortunately, there are many ways to get employees excited about training. Setting goals and building a comprehensive training program will create structure, ensure organizational needs are being met, and communicate to employees that there is a solid starting point and path for their development.

It’s also recommended to use multiple learning tools and methods. By providing variety in the training, employees are less likely to become overwhelmed or bored. Training could include group discussions/demonstrations, mentoring/shadowing, or eLearning. Online training is an excellent way to get employees trained quickly, efficiently, and at a reasonable cost.

Another tip for keeping employees excited about training is to keep it going after initial onboarding. Employee engagement has been shown to increase if staff have continued opportunities to learn and grow, so training managers shouldn’t stop after the initial hiring phase. Learning and development should be an ongoing process. 

For even more tips, visit our blog on New Employee Training: 10 Tips for Success.

The role of food safety training

Having reviewed some of the key challenges a training manager faces, it’s important to understand the role and importance of food safety training in particular. As expressed above, food safety training is critical to the success of a food business. It benefits the organization, its staff, and its customers.

Proper food safety training ensures:

  • Staff have the skills and knowledge they need to get the job done, and they understand their responsibilities regarding food safety 
  • Customers are protected from food safety issues such as food-borne illness outbreaks, contamination, or allergy-related incidents
  • Organizations are compliant with any government regulations or requirements
  • Brands are better protected against the consequences of food safety incidents, including fines, business closures, lawsuits, and more

To learn more about the responsibilities in a food business, visit our blog: Who’s Responsible for Food Safety in a Food Business?

Creating a Food Safety Culture

Effective food safety training is one piece of a larger food safety puzzle. For training to be most accepted and implemented, it’s important for training managers and leadership staff to make it part of a food safety culture – a shared set of values and expectations that everyone adopts.

A business with a strong food safety culture demonstrates to its staff and customers that making safe food is an important commitment, not just a check box to tick during the weekly team meeting.

Having a strong food safety culture means that Food Handlers will be aware of their responsibilities, more willing to follow procedures and policies, and more engaged in opportunities for skill development. 

Managers should identify food safety goals, ensure Food Handlers are trained in proper techniques, and verify all compliance needs are met. Clear and consistent messaging, from the top level of management and throughout the business is key to building a successful food safety culture. It is also vital that  training managers, business leaders and department managers demonstrate their own acceptance of and engagement with food safety. Leading by example, setting clear expectations and holding people accountable will make the food safety culture as successful as possible.

Learn more about food safety culture in our blog on Why Food Safety Culture Matters. And be sure to take our free quiz: Does Your Business Have a Positive Food Safety Culture? to find out how your organization is doing. 

Whether a food business has five or 500 people, the benefits of proper food safety training far outweigh the challenges that training managers may face to implement it. To ensure the smoothest possible experience for training multiple staff members, the Canadian Institute of Food Safety offers business accounts, which enable bulk student enrollment, volume discounts, easy online success-tracking, and expert compliance help. To learn more, contact us today.