Why Pizza Parties Aren't Cutting it for Food Safety Culture

mindset powerful conversations Jul 27, 2021

It’s Thursday mid-morning.  You’re at work busy [insert your favorite FSQ activity] and production seems to be running smoothly.   Your mind keeps drifting to the last few things you need to get ready for this weekend: pack food, put camp chairs in the truck, grab bug spray. 


It’s been months since there’s been a ‘no production’ weekend, and last week the complex manager announced NO PRODUCTION for this weekend.  Last Thursday and Friday, the energy in the plant was like everyone won the lottery.  The excitement for a weekend off was palpable and carried everyone into this week.  So far this week, there’s been no extensive downtime or issues, so the production schedule is on track for that promised weekend off. 


You’re stirred from your weekend checklist when the overhead paging system crackles.  You wait to hear who it’s for so you can get back to [insert your favorite FSQ activity].


“Listen up everyone!   We know this is a big change of plans for everyone.  But due to a large customer order going out on Monday morning, we are now scheduled for production on Saturday.  There’s a sign-up sheet for volunteers.  We appreciate your help and will have pizza lunch on Saturday.”


You know how this rolls.  No one volunteers – especially when everyone has made weekend plans.  That means by the end of the day, you’ll be volun-told to be here on Saturday morning. 


That was an immediate soul crushing announcement for everyone.


But hey, there’s pizza.


Here’s what leaders of these companies need to know.  People aren’t hungry.  They are tired. 


Our greatest assets, our people, are tired of being taken for granted.  When leaders think “business needs” trump the needs of their people, those leaders are lost.  They are lost to the fact that their PEOPLE are the business need. 


 Our FSQ Teams and people working besides us are tired.

  • They are tired of seeing waste every single day that translates into them having to work longer hours.
  • They are tired of seeing corners cut on things like Preventive Maintenance (because there is no time) leading to equipment breakdown, and the excessive downtime causes them to have to work weekends.
  • They are tired of being short-staffed leading to production orders not getting filled during the week so they have to work weekends.
  • They are tired of recruiting good people, only to have them run away because the conditions suck.


Again, and again, and again.  And pizza doesn’t take that pain away.


In addition to the pizza trophy, hourly team members will rack up considerable overtime pay.  That helps, yet from my experience, many would rather have a day off.


However, middle managers, like the ones in FSQ, simply are to show up weekend after weekend as part of their normal responsibilities.  No amount of pizza makes that better.  And because they are salaried, there is no extra pay, no bonus.  That wouldn’t even matter because what they want most it to have a day off, feel valued, and have a fair workload. 


This is about culture.  And yes, food safety culture because let’s be real, they are one in the same.


No matter what type of culture you call it, the fact remains we need to take better care of our people.  Period.  Here’s the thing.  We can rant all day about this ridiculous scenario.  We know it won’t stop it from happening on another weekend.  However, as FSQ professionals, we can make a difference even in the face of this type of situation.  


Stay with me for a minute.  I know it doesn’t always seem like we can make a difference.  Yet we can.  We have choices on where to spend our energy.  Do you want to spend your energy complaining about the situation (even though it REALLY lights a fire) or spend your energy building what you want?  It may not be easy, but where you’re at isn’t easy, is it? 


You have the power to pave a new path forward to see the change you want, and to drive the culture you crave.  Here are four ways you can create the culture you crave:

  • Be intentional in how you show up: It really is about mindset, and that you have 100% control over.  And yes, I get the situation sucks.   If we sit in the ‘suck’ emotion, we continue to be pulled down by it and it permeates to those around you.  How can you make the best of the situation? 


  • Understand your actual workload: We’ve all heard ‘Data will set you free’ and it will. Get crackin’ on making your standard work list and performing a workload capacity calculation.  When you have the data around your workload, it is easier to have a conversation with your boss about any change you need to see.  HINT: also do this for your direct reports!  You may not even realize all the tasks they are doing or how long they take.


  • Ask for what you need: There isn’t a crystal ball, certainly if it isn’t on your glass & brittle plastic log, to read your mind.  Your boss may understand the weekend situation sucks but may not know the extent it is impacting you.   Ask for what you need!   Do you need specific weekends off?  Do you need to build bench strength so you can rotate weekends?


  • Talk about the elephant in the room: It’s likely the weekend situation alone isn’t the only thing not sitting well with you – it’s likely the tipping point.  We often think our leaders should just ‘get’ what’s going on with us.  Guess what?  They won’t know if you aren’t willing to have the conversation.  What are the other factors causing frustration at work?  Prepare to have the conversation – What are you seeing? What are you feeling?  How is it impacting you?  What questions do you have?  What do you want to happen?  How can your boss help? 


 While you may not be able to avoid this weekend’s work, YOU can make powerful choices to change the culture.   By having conversations where you authentically share the impact around what’s happening at work, you are building the culture you crave - a culture of trusting relationships where you can share what’s really happening.  After all, we all want our boss and top leaders to understand what’s happening in our world so we can be the best FSQ Leaders we can be.   


Give your leaders an opportunity to hear you so they don’t have to just order pizza to try and make it all okay.  You are a GOLD MINE of understanding what’s going on in your company.   What’s it going to be?


 Thanks for the read!

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