When it comes to employee training, there are really two major goals, broadly speaking:
- Help employees do their jobs better.
- Prevent costly mistakes.
Offensive and Defensive Sides of Training Outcomes
These goals certainly overlap. Avoiding mistakes is, of course, one way to do one’s job better. We can think of these goals as offensive and defensive sides of the same coin, to use a sports analogy.
The offensive side is the first part. This involves helping employees do their jobs better, so they are more efficient, so they can generate more revenue for the same or lower cost, so they become more productive, better salespeople, etc.
The defensive side is more closely tied to preventing costly mistakes. These could be regulatory blunders—not complying with certain rules or regulations or having safety lapses. Someone could get hurt on the job. Quality control—making sure basic standards of quality are met in the production or service process—require constant and consistent attention.
Food Safety and Training Outcome Implications
A string of recent food safety scares illustrates what happens when this defensive component is lacking, and it demonstrates failures in terms of both safety and quality control.
Recently, Washington Beef was forced to recall 30,000 pounds of ground beef after it learned about potential contamination. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the recalled meat, “may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically hard plastic and metal.”
According to one source, “the recall comes after 2018’s JBS Tolleson beef recall, which was well over 5 million pounds of beef, due to salmonella fears. In November, the company also recalled 99,260 pounds of ground beef because of possible E. coli contamination. Competitor Cargill, meanwhile, was forced to twice recall meats last year, once in August and again in September.”
All of these incidents could be mitigated with improved training. Even if it wasn’t human acts or omissions that caused the contamination—i.e., issues with machinery—human inspections could potentially have detected and corrected the issue before it became a major problem.
When these kinds of recalls happen, companies suffer financially not just from having to recall their products, but also from negative publicity, which can hurt sales, and from potential regulatory fines.
All of this can result in much more than the cost of improving training before the issues arise in the first place.