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Table 1 Key findings from focus group discussions

From: Hurdles at work: perceptions of hospital food handlers

Categories Themes
Upper-management performance Upper management considered their work to be of lesser importance Upper management did not prioritize human and material resources to the dietetic services when making resource allocation decisions Delayed overtime payments Unhealthy environmental working conditions Lack of food, kitchen utensils and equipment Lack of training policy
Dietetic service staff members' performance 1. Lack of leadership skills Organizational structure was strictly hierarchical Power was given to persons only according to their position and technical background Clear separation between the professionals managing and supervising the services and those executing them Questions related to interpersonal interactions were emphasized, quite often involving conflict between supervisors and subordinates Complaints about bad and disrespectful treatment by superiors Superiors focused on finding faults instead of solving problems Meetings for discussing problems were seldom held; were scheduled at times when not all the employees were available to participate; seemed to be to solve delicate and personal questions; on some occasions, strangers to the department were present Superiors were not fair, since they often blame the employees for mistakes they had not committed 2. Lack of ability to build effective teamwork Some co-workers managed to secure favoritism by the superiors Some co-workers with public servant status had disrespectful and defiant attitudes towards their superiors, somehow inhibiting the superiors from taking stronger measures, so that those who were more obedient and respectful to orders ended up overloaded Some co-workers with public servant status had low commitment to the job 3. Lack of clear objectives, job descriptions and tasks Inadequate distribution of personnel and tasks among the departments Excessive workload because of a shortage of personnel Superiors did not give staff a clear vision of the department's goals Information about working conditions, tools, equipment used, knowledge and skills needed, and relationships with other positions was not well understood Too many people in charge, making it difficult to know to whom to communicate in the chain of command No satisfatory pay or benefits
Training policy Lack of periodic training as a demonstration that they were not of sufficient importance to deserve training courses Initial training for new co-workers placed under the responsibility of older and more experienced colleagues Concern that it would be difficult to apply proper food handling techniques learnt on training courses, given the precarious working conditions