Quality control, well-documented food safety and cleanliness procedures and comprehensive training programs are critical in the food industry. A highly competitive business environment and a bevy of federal and state regulations make strategic planning a must for food industry human resource departments. Although strategic plans typically cover a period of three to 10 years, an annual review ensures long-term plans adhere to current best practices and regulations.

Scope of Strategic Planning

Long-term HR plans focus on the same issues as most businesses, such as company policies and procedures, hiring and retention, workplace safety and compliance with federal, state and local regulations. Language and cultural barriers, high industry turnover rates and balancing a need for quality training against production and productivity requirements makes plan details significantly different. Strategic planning is most effective when HR team members have a background in the food industry, intimate knowledge of food industry regulations and an appreciation for cultural diversity.

Hiring and Retention

The industry sector, such as whether the business is a grocery store or a food processing plant, determines basic hiring criteria. A grocery store may be able to hire unskilled workers and provide sufficient knowledge through on-the-job training. A food processing plant, however, has quality control compliance requirements that make it necessary to hire employees with a specific educational background or professional qualifications. Traditionally high employee turnover rates in the food and beverage industry make it crucial that HR address long-term retention in strategic HR plans. Results from the Society for Human Resource Management 2012-2013 Human Capital Benchmarking Database show that in 2011, the food and beverage industry had a 30 percent turnover rate and an average tenure of five years.

Safety-First Training

Long-term training plans focus on more than simply ensuring employees know how to do their assigned jobs properly. The “Work Safe Center” quotes Bureau of Labor statistics showing that close to 61 percent of all reported injuries and illnesses happened in food and beverage businesses. Repetitive motion, manual handling, falling and being hit by moving objects are the major causes of injuries. Long-term, ongoing safety training and safety training refreshers not only helps reduce worker’s compensation insurance costs but also displays a commitment to protecting a valuable business asset.

Quality Control and Compliance

Ongoing quality control and regulatory compliance training is a critical part of strategic HR plans. Quality control training helps the business uphold food quality standards and federal, state and local regulations. For example, every food-related business, regardless of the industry sector, has federal Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points food safety compliance regulations. Also important in strategic HR plans are procedures for keeping the management team up-to-date with modifications to compliance regulations.