Editor’s note: Jim Mann, founder and chief scientific officer for the Handwashing For Life Institute, will be at Booth 136 at the Food Safety Summit, May 6-9, at Rosemont Convention Center in suburban Chicago.


The magic element is employee engagement.

The top 100 restaurant chains have good trainers but they almost all fail to change employee handwashing behavior in a sustainable way. That has been, is, and according to many, will be its likely future. If good trainers can’t do it, there is a silent conviction by the C-Suite that efficiency requirements and the restaurant industry’s available workforce result in a risk that can only be managed by insurance. Each passing year further secures the status quo.

Savvy foodservice operators are stepping up. Their tolerance for risk is lower and perhaps their customer commitment is higher. These groundbreakers are few but their findings are profound as they discover new mission critical technology and the protocols of implementation.

Enduring behavior change demands employee engagement and commitment. Compliance becomes a personal source of professional pride once data is available to move handwashing performance from an aspiration to a verified reality. The goal of policy compliance is converted to self-compliance.

Electronically monitored handwashing has been commonly criticized, usually by those foodservice operators who have good trainers but poorly engaged workers. Such operators see these tracking systems as number generators rather than the key to employee engagement, self-motivation and self-compliant performance.
The reminders for employees to wash their hands is no longer a matter of signs on the restroom mirrors or the manager’s constant niggling when tracking systems are applied, but rather simple feedback on personal performance.
The most sustainable fix for ailing handwashing situations requires three components:

  1. Reliable equipment
  2. Data-dathering software
  3. Real-time staff feedback

This is the 1-2-3 fix that sticks.

Resolving foodservice’s age-old handwashing perplexity has now become a matter of choice, resting on the shoulders of ownership and the people in the C-Suites. Affordable technological advancements are available to both protect and even build brand values.

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