As HR professionals we all understand the benefits of employee engagement and the contribution it can make to a business on many levels…
Making that case in the boardroom can be a tougher ‘sell’, particularly if achieving this requires a financial investment.
However, support for the cause has come from an unexpected quarter with the latest standards from the UK food retail industry’s trade association, the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
I tend to think of regulatory bodies (perhaps unfairly) as people who focus on rules and systems – the folk in white coats who want to see ticks in boxes and a stamp of approval for every procedure.
But the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety Version 8 (audits began in February this year) has a much deeper requirement: to see evidence of a food safety ‘culture’.
WHAT THE BIG CHEESES SAY…
The ‘powers that be’ maintain that a proactive and positive culture within an organisation can make all the difference in the effectiveness of a business’ food safety and quality plan – and they go on to say that effective communication between different levels in an organisation is a key indicator of a ‘good’ culture.
They want to see a clear plan or programme for developing or improving food safety culture on each food production site, with activities designed to:
- measure culture
- implement changes and
- assess improvements
In other words, they want evidence that can be audited.
THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS
Among the measures they suggest are annual employee reviews and recognition programmes, feedback mechanisms, training reviews and employee surveys.
The latter proved an effective tool for one of our clients recently – the quality sausage producer James T Blakeman & Co Ltd. As a supplier to many high-end household names, Blakemans is always keen to demonstrate that it is ‘best in class’ and Head of HR, Jane Selman was determined to show that her organisation is already building the sort of culture the BRC is trying to promote.
Jane knew that in order to ensure her people adhered to the high safety standards they had to really care about their jobs. Together we designed a bespoke survey which measured how people felt about their roles alongside what they thought about the safety standards in place – in other words, how ‘engaged’ they were with Blakemans’ high quality identity and commitment to safe working practices.
THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING …
The results speak for themselves: asked if Blakemans have a food safety culture focused on ensuring safety standards are consistently met, 80% fully agreed – and 94% fully agreed that they understood the impact of not adhering to the food safety standards.
There were many other areas covered in the survey too, including Communication and Leadership to name but a few. We had an excellent response overall, which showed how the team welcomed the opportunity contribute ideas and offer feedback on so many aspects of working life at Blakemans.
Of course, any survey is only going to be an effective tool if the leadership in an organisation is genuinely interested in its findings – and prepared to act on them. But the rewards speak for themselves: I think it is no co-incidence that Blakeman’s – with its clear evidence of commitment to employee engagement- has an employee turnover of less than 2%.
Overall, I believe Blakemans’ engagement survey and plan is an excellent example of win: win for employer and employee alike and, of course, for their customers and regulators.
You could even call it a recipe for success.