Typically working night shifts in a cold and wet environment, there is no denying that Hygiene Managers are the unsung heroes of our industry. They also play an important role in the success of every site. Big wins such as securing audit compliance, launching a new allergen line, attracting the custom of leading retailers, speeding up production, and working within budget, would all be impossible without your Hygiene Manager and their team of operatives.

With this in mind, we have created a guide to supporting and protecting your Hygiene Manager. Hopefully, the following five solutions will help you to retain a successful Hygiene Manager or to attract a dynamic new operative to this position. It is also possible that you are a Hygiene Manager yourself and would like to secure the deserved amount of respect and recognition. If so, this article should act as a useful resource as you outline your expectations.

1. Listen to your Hygiene Manager

In a recent webinar hosted by BRCGS and partnered by Klipspringer, our Director Alex Carlyon and Foram Mehtam, the Global Standards Technical Manager at BRCGS, discussed the importance of listening to your Hygiene Manager. They highlighted the fact that Hygiene Managers typically have a huge amount of expertise. This expertise will be incredibly helpful when it comes to making key decisions such as the length of your Hygiene Window, the equipment you are going to invest in, and the positioning of your production lines.

You need to make sure that any attempts to engage with your Hygiene Manager start from the top down. A Senior Leadership Team that takes hygiene seriously will help to nurture a positive culture and will encourage operatives at all levels to follow suit.

This will become even more likely if you invite your Hygiene Manager to meetings with other departments, think production huddles and NPD sessions. This could be an excellent opportunity for you to break down barriers at your site and encourage collaboration across departments.

You should also ask your Hygiene Manager for regular feedback. Otherwise, you could be labouring under the false impression that they feel valued and respected, when in fact there are a number of important areas where change still needs to occur.

2. Protect your Hygiene Manager

Hygiene Managers tend to work night shifts and can therefore be set slightly apart from other operatives. For this reason, people who are less socially confident are often drawn to this line of work. This is just one of the reasons that it’s so important to have a support system in place for your Hygiene Manager – they need to feel empowered to raise any queries or concerns and should have access to a proactive HR representative. Mental health is also of the upmost importance, so you will need to evaluate the resources currently available to your workforce.

The physical wellbeing of your Hygiene Manager is another key area to consider. Hygiene teams frequently work with harsh cleaning chemicals that could potentially have a negative impact on their health. Do your operatives have suitable eye protection and masks? Could you achieve the same results with non-toxic cleaning sprays? These are just some of the questions you should be asking. You should also think about protective clothing. Chemical-resistant clothing, such as our WashGuard range, will empower your Hygiene Manager to focus on the job in hand with 100% protection. Lightweight yet durable, this range offers increased moveability, increased productivity, reduced sweating, and unprecedented levels of comfort. There are also safety features like protective hoods and reflective strips.

3. Suitably equip your Hygiene Manager

Also mentioned in the BRCGS webinar was the need for the more thorough inspection of hard-to-reach areas. If you are going to charge your Hygiene Manager with this task, it is only fair that you kit them out with the right equipment. For example, if your Hygiene team is going to check how clean it is under your machines, they will need durable knee pads and supports. You should also role out an updated training course to ensure your operatives are protected from injury and strain.

Injury and strain can be further prevented with high reach equipment that has been designed for the specific purpose of cleaning your site’s ceilings and walls. The design of a typical brushhead isn’t suited to this task, so if your hygiene operatives are having to make do, they are likely straining their muscles and working a lot harder than they should be. Switching out standard designs for more suitable alternatives will involve an upfront cost, but in the long run, you could reduce your hygiene window, boost morale, and save money on replacements.

Equipment should also be a key talking point when it comes to identifying areas for improvement at your site. If you are met with non-conformances or are unhappy with the results of an internal audit, whatever you do, don’t just jump to blaming your Hygiene Manager. First, conduct a review of the equipment at your site and make sure that it has been hygienically designed. This means it should be quick and easy to dismantle, free from trap points and harbourages, suited to regular cleaning, and fit for purpose. If your equipment doesn’t meet these requirements, it will be almost impossible for your Hygiene Manager to raise standards and improve results.

4. Train & develop your Hygiene Manager

Another important step is to support the training and development of your Hygiene Manager. Ideally, this training should relate to some of the key issues faced by the food and beverage production industry. As we all know, the retention and engagement of staff is a huge talking point, so it’s vital that your Hygiene Manager is aware of the best ways to motivate their team. Perhaps there is a training course they could attend? We also hosted an informative webinar on retention and engagement that you would be very welcome to share.

Other trending topics include colour-coding and the best way to implement it at your site, the development of new equipment and technology, the new standards and specifications of bodies such as BRCGS, and the growing popularity of Free From products. Instead of leaving your Hygiene Manager to grapple with these challenges alone, you should see their training as an investment opportunity. After all, an informed and confident Hygiene Manager will help to future-proof your site and ensure you are audit-ready at all times.

5. Celebrate your Hygiene Manager

You need to make sure that you celebrate the success of your Hygiene Manager. One option is to introduce Staff Celebration Boards to your site. These boards should recognise any small (or big) wins in hygiene and shine a light on specific operatives. They should also help everyone at your factory, especially the Senior Leadership Team, to understand exactly what the hygiene team does and comprehend the impact this work has on the overall success of your site. Finally, you should further popularise the term ‘Hygiene Heroes’, embracing the fact that production would grind to a halt without this department.

That brings us to the end of our guide to supporting your Hygiene Manager. As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities for you to nurture a more positive relationship with your Hygiene Department – drawing on their expertise, strengthening their influence at your site, and helping them to achieve even the most ambitious of targets. 

Here at Klipspringer, we have been working with Hygiene Managers for over 20 years and would be happy to provide further guidance. Whether you are a Hygiene Manager yourself or would like to support one of your operatives, you can contact us on 01473 461800 or sales@klipspringer.com.  Alternatively, you can fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will be in touch. 

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