Training During a Pandemic and Surge in Demand

Food and beverage processors are now dealing with some critical challenges when it comes to training. Companies are having to adapt their training quickly and on the fly. They need to address:

  • Keeping their current workforce safe. Avoid large groups and social distancing.
  • Training new employees they’re hiring to meet a surge in demand.

Both adding challenges to developing a successful training program that meets all of the goals and current needs.

A different kind of training.

Personal hygiene is a priority, of course. While hand washing and protective equipment is not new to the food and beverage processing world it does have a special emphasis right now.

Processors need to be pro-active in training their workforces on what the coronavirus is and how employees can protect not only themselves, but their coworkers and others they come in contact with. An ongoing learning curve is had as critical new information comes available and needs to be shared in a safe way posthaste.

“According to a recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers, 67% of all manufacturers have continued to run at full capacity throughout the pandemic, 76% have had to simultaneously implement flexible work options, and 67% had to re-engineer their processes to reflect COVID-19 safety protocols.” Parsable

Prior to the virus, training often involved large groups of employees sitting in a classroom environment or working together on a production floor. That just won’t cut it anymore. In an effort to follow guidelines increased social distancing efforts to develop individual training programs are a must.

Employees naturally want to congregate in break rooms, restrooms and locker rooms. Changes and training employees that they can’t share break room tables or sit close to each other. Staggering locker room access to avoid too many people in one place at one time is another example.

New trainee training for the surge in demand.

And then there are the new folks. Bringing on new employees and getting them up and running quickly adds an additional challenge for processors. Facilities are adding/expanding shifts, running on weekends where they might not have necessarily been online and trying to ramp up production in any way possible to meet the ongoing surge in demand. That means hiring more employees and getting them up to speed quickly and safely while still meeting training needs and COVID-19 safety adherence.


There is a possible bright side for all of this, however. As trainers adapt and methods change due to COVID-19 companies are finding some advantages if time allows. Online training of such areas as HACCP and SQF for those that can’t come in for a while for example. A real opportunity to strengthen a team for today and tomorrow.

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