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7 steps towards gaining acceptance of a digital food safety system in your workplace

April 28th , 2022 by

Moving to a digital food safety system brings many benefits to staff, customers and the wider organisation. It can significantly improve safety, compliance, efficiency and productivity. But if your staff have been doing things the same way for a long time – for example, using a paper-based system – moving to a digital system could present some challenges.

As a general rule, people don’t like change – even when it’s for the better. While some employees might be quick to adapt, there will always be some resistance and scepticism. Some staff will be quite happy with their current routine and processes. They may react negatively and be vocal in sharing their views with others. But there are things you can do to minimise this negativity, maximise user acceptance and even win over some of the naysayers.

1. Engage early with all stakeholders

It can be tempting to push a technological change through as quickly as possible before people have the chance to quash the idea. But you are far more likely to meet resistance if staff aren’t engaged in the process from the start.

Change is hardest for people when they are taken by surprise. So, give them a heads up early that you are considering other options for managing your food safety processes. This gives them a chance to process what this change could mean for them – in a more open-minded way.

If staff believe that the move to a new digital food safety system is a ‘fait accompli’, they are less likely to become invested in the idea. Ideally, you should begin talking with staff about the bigger picture before you even consider what type of new technological system to implement.

2. Set a vision and goals for a new way of working

Rather than simply presenting staff with a new technological system, consider first setting a vision and goals for a ‘new way of working’ when it comes to food safety. Exploring and defining the bigger picture with staff will give them an understanding and investment in the change process.

For example, your vision for food safety may be to keep your customers and staff safe, while your goals might improve ease and efficiency in the way you achieve this. This will set the scene for a new digital food safety system which, at the end of the day, is simply a tool for helping you achieve your goals.

3. Listen to and empathise with staff about their concerns

By nature, humans are creatures of habit, and we resist change because it can make us uncomfortable in some way. It is important that any fears or concerns about the new system or way of working are brought into the open early, not just during implementation.

It’s natural for people to question whether a new system will actually make their lives easier. They may be asking themselves, ‘Can I do this?’ ‘Will it create more work’? ‘Will the system actually do what it claims to?’ or even ‘Will my job become obsolete?’ Try and get to the bottom of their fears and address them openly and non-judgementally.

People who were involved in the ‘old way of doing things’ may also be defensive about the new system. They may fear that others will now look at their way as ‘wrong’. It is therefore important that leaders acknowledge and honour the past while looking to the future and highlighting that the world is changing. Celebrate what staff have achieved with the old system as you move towards the new.

4. Enlist ‘champions’ of the new system and build shared ownership

To minimise the spread of negativity, it is critical that there are people at varying levels of your organisation – including middle and senior management – who actively promote and advocate for your new digital food safety system. Educate your champions first and keep them engaged (and rewarded!) so they know the key messages and can support staff who might struggle with the new system.

When it comes to ongoing implementation, ensure that ownership of the system isn’t just in the hands of a select few. A digital food safety system can only work if there is a team of people behind it who know what they’re doing. If you leave it to the same few people to manage, the system will fail if they move on. Then staff may claim the system doesn’t work and want to return to the old way of doing things.

5. Develop a training and mentoring program

You cannot over-invest in information, education, training, mentoring and support systems for the implementation of your digital food safety system. Develop an engaging training program for staff – keep it fun, and interesting and offer some rewards and incentives if you can such as gift cards or workplace perks.

Consider different learning styles in your training program, such as auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. Provide a range of learning materials such as documents, diagrams and videos. If you can, offer one-on-one training or mentoring for those who need a little extra help. Because if the confidence isn’t there or they’re not understanding the new system, they will start to look back to the old way of doing things.

6. Consider a gradual or phased implementation process

To ease the transition to the new system, it can be helpful to offer a period of overlap for staff, where the old and the new system run simultaneously as people adapt. Alternatively, you could start using the new system in a particular area of your organisation first, before rolling it out to the rest of the organisation. That way you can learn from any mistakes and share ‘quick wins’ before remaining areas and staff are required to jump on board. Seeing the wins will make it easier for them to believe in and adopt the new technology.

7. Be flexible – expect challenges along the way

As with any new technological system, there will be teething problems. Manage staff expectations about the rollout – explain that it won’t always be smooth sailing, but that the end goal will make it all worthwhile.

Develop feedback mechanisms so that staff can report technical or implementation issues, and show them how their feedback has been dealt with. This will make them more forgiving of future hiccups, and more accepting of change as time goes by.

Managing change is hard, but worth it

Any organisational change is difficult, particularly when it involves new technologies. You won’t be able to make everyone completely comfortable with the idea of moving to a digital food safety system, but you can minimise their discomfort and slowly build their support. By engaging early and well, identifying champions, training and mentoring staff, and phasing your implementation you can build staff confidence and acceptance towards change.

Need help demonstrating the value of moving to a digital food safety system in your organisation? We can provide a cost-benefit analysis tailored to your operation, plus live demonstrations of our product to your internal stakeholders. Contact us for a free demonstration.

Monika has provided digital food and clinical safety solutions to healthcare and foodservice institutions worldwide since the early 1990s. Our product simulation technology originated from research conducted in an accredited laboratory into 100+ different product types.

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