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Food Safety Culture – Improving Communication

Communication is always a challenge whether you employ 5 or 5,000! From our experience, it always features at, or near the top of the list of topics for attention when working with clients to improve their culture.  We often find that employees are much more interested in hearing about what’s going on than their management teams anticipate! Good communication can help establish a sense of belonging and a feeling of being valued.

We’d like to share what we have learnt about improving communication…


What do people want to know?

It’s easy to assume that we know what our teams want in terms of communication and therefore we forge ahead without actually asking them! It’s very useful to just take a moment to consult.  This often raises new ideas that help increase the level of engagement.

Blockers and amplifiers

Effective communication relies on each layer in your organisational structure passing on the message and cascading the information. We want each layer to amplify the message not block it. Do you have any blockages in your communication stream? If so, where are they and how can you improve them? Some individuals may be unaware of how vital their role is in the communication process, showing people the value of their input can help improve their sense of worth at work.

A two-way street?

Communication is a two-way street, so we must encourage an active flow in both directions. From our experience, our front-line colleagues often have the best practical ideas for improving and solving day-to-day frustrations. Most companies have established mechanisms for capturing ideas such as forums, suggestions ‘boxes’ and open-door policies. The critical factor is that each idea is responded to, even if it’s not currently feasible to implement the idea; acknowledging the input and thanking the contributor should help keep a flow of ideas coming – whereas providing no response is guaranteed to turn off the tap!

Is it user-friendly?

We know that people get tired of, and blind to, seeing the same information presented in the same way. So, think about how you can improve the format of your communication. Is it user-friendly and meaningful? Often personal comments from consumers can have more impact than just a graph of complaints data. Positive comments from auditors or customers can help generate a sense of pride following an audit, rather than just communicating the non-conformances.  Social media platforms are popular solutions for employee communication and updates, but don’t forget not everyone is a fan of social media so are you isolating part of your audience?

Pockets of good practice

If you are using a regular culture survey you may have noticed a range of scores for communication across different departments/functions. Digging deeper into exactly what drives the higher scores can help identify pockets of good practice that can then be replicated, with adaption where necessary, in lower-scoring departments. We want good communication to be contagious!

If you’d like more details on our Food Safety Culture for site leadership teams and supervisors courses see our website or please get in touch.

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