The Box Ticking Pandemic

Box ticked

Published by Andrew Thomson

Andrew is an experienced and trusted food safety consultant, and a highly regarded learning and development advisor. He has advised government agencies in Australia and overseas on food safety matters.


16 February 2021

Futurist Anne Lise Kjaer’s outlook of the world in 2018 was surprisingly accurate. She said, “The world is changing; complexity in society and business growth is changing the future of jobs and skills.”

With so much uncertainty in this current climate, organisations and leaders face continued business disruption with a myriad of challenges and risks.

Increasingly, healthcare organisations (and employees) are demanding more from their leaders. They are wanting: leadership, inspiration, vision and encouragement, and motivation so they feel valued and will turn up for work each day.

Today’s leaders require unique sets of skills and abilities: they are expected to do more with less time and resources.

Leaders are expected to improve systems and the way they do things to add real value. They need to identify risk and challenge the status quo of meeting bare minimum requirements.

Leaders at all levels within an organisation need to be conversant with their legal obligations and have a good working knowledge and understanding of the systems they work with and continuously seek ways to improve them.

Compliance matters can consume much of their time as they face mounting pressure to instigate rigorous and effective controls to demonstrate a state of compliance.

Leaders find creative ways of achieving this — after all, life is so much easier when they can simply tick the box.

Shrinking training budgets and providing employees with traditional training approaches to basic compliance training is one area for urgent change if an organisation is to flourish.

The decades long and less desirable training practice used by many organisations relies on herding as many employees as possible to undertake (any form of) training and then show the regulator and/or accreditation assessors the training records. This approach fails on several fronts: it does not provide employees with the skills they urgently need for doing their job now and in the future; lacks the required processes when employees learn new skills and behaviours; and does not address developing the best employees for future roles. Questions relating to employee learning strategies, skills development, performance and systems improvement, and measuring training success are largely overlooked by senior leaders and the regulator.

Simply, the box is ticked by all parties concerned.

This places everyone at risk.

Alarm bells should be ringing!

In an article for the CLO Magazine, Kelly Palmer says, “A culture of compliance training is usually a company that doesn’t value learning as much as it values making sure it is covering the regulations and requirements necessary to do business.”

Frontline supervisory leaders in these organisations face considerable challenges. They want their employees to accept and embrace change without providing a clear strategy and the supporting skills training — this often leads to employees being frustrated and the desired business outputs are not met.

Learning involves knowledge and understanding (and retaining it). It also requires critical thinking and reflection, and the ability to transfer knowledge to new and different situations or contexts, or perform a task differently or in a better way.

Best practice standards for employee learning and skills development can be readily identified. 

In Forbes, Steven T Hunt PhD advocates for sweeping change to workplace learning programs, drawing on 2020 research by Oxford Economics and the American Society for Human Resource Management, who partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to better understand the emerging realities for employers and employees in a post-COVID period.

Hunt declares, “Employers should rethink current approaches to training programs and begin to apply the concepts of Human Experience Management (HXM) to learning. The emphasis is on the employee experience. A balancing act of employee wants with company needs.”

In the Australian context, RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics recently released Ready, set, upskill: Effective training for the jobs of tomorrow.This report provides fresh insights into post-COVID skill needs; how prepared Australians feel for a changing workplace; and where employers should invest in training to prepare for what’s ahead.

Modern approaches to learning in the workplace necessitates a model of continuous learning and supporting employee learning — it moves beyond designing and delivering one-off training programs.

Palmer adds, “A culture of continuous learning — a culture where learning is part of everyday work, where learning is more than compliance or required training. A culture of continuous learning is generally modelled by leaders and highly encouraged. It includes all types of learning — formal and informal, videos, articles, podcasts, books and events.”

The right frame of mind and the right strategy will convert change into growth. It will require a commitment to continuous learning and doing business better. Skills will make us, not just resilient, but thrive as the world changes, says Kjaer.

Stop this pandemic of box ticking.

Think ST Solutions helps protect and grow new and established foodservice business through innovation and risk reduction strategies.

Want further information? Contact Andrew Thomson on 0422285720.