3 ways to start building a positive workplace culture in your food business

A positive work culture underpins the success of the food safety management system within a food business. It also has a direct impact on staff morale, the safety and quality of product produced and our ability to cope with change. Building a positive workplace culture may seem like a daunting task but with a little bit of knowledge, you can get started. Let’s begin with the basics.

1. Communication is king

Good communication is key in any relationship, and this is no different to the relationships between your colleagues. It doesn’t matter if you are the managing director or the cleaner, communication needs to be clear and unambiguous.

Keep in mind that communication doesn’t just relate to verbal communication. It also includes the written word. You need to make sure that any written communication does not incite confusion, frustration, or misinterpretation.

Find out the status of your written communication by answering these questions:

  • Are company policies, procedures and work-instructions easy to understand?
  • Is workplace signage clear?
  • Are CCP monitoring forms designed to allow for easy completion?
  • Do staff have easy access to company policies and procedures?
  • Do you have translated materials available (if relevant)?

When you eliminate confusion in your communication, there is a greater understanding between all parties. It also contributes to a positive workplace culture that is based on openness and trust.  

2. Provide psychological safety

Psychological safety is the belief that you won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.

In the context of building a positive workplace culture, creating and implementing a psychologically safe workplace starts with leadership and management.  

This can include providing mechanisms and tools that allow staff to feel included, speak-up without repercussions, engage in productive debate and learn from failure.  

While leaders play a role in shaping an organization’s psychological safety, the onus does not entirely lay at this level. It is a responsibility that needs to be shared by everyone in the business.  

Research conducted by Mckinsey found that:

“A positive team climate—in which team members value one another’s contributions, care about one another’s well-being, and have input into how the team carries out its work—is the most important driver of a team’s psychological safety”.

3. Inject humor and fun

There is plenty of research to support that laughter is not only a great form of stress relief but also brings people together. The Mayo Clinic reports that “whether you’re guffawing at a sitcom on TV or quietly giggling at a newspaper cartoon, laughing does you good”.

Injecting humor into your workplace can bring your team together and provide a sense of connection. When your team feels close, building a positive workplace culture becomes easier. It also has the added benefit of improving workplace productivity.

Need some ideas to get started? Check our Humor That Works and their article ‘101 ways to create humor at work’.

Positive workplace culture and HACCP

In 2020, Codex released an updated version of the General Principles of Food Hygiene. A major change included the provision of cultivating a positive food safety culture. One of the elements specifically identify the need for “open and clear communication among all personnel in the food business, including communication of deviations and expectations”.

The relationship to HACCP doesn’t stop there. If your food business is certified to any of the GFSI recognised standards you are required to have a clear plan for developing and improving food safety and quality culture.

You can include any of the ways that have been discussed in this post as a defined activity. Just make sure to associate your activities with an action plan. To learn more about developing a Product Safety Culture Plan in your business please click here.

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