Food Standards Agency

We are an independent Government department working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers’ wider interests in food. We make sure that food is safe and what it says it is.

Company Overview

It’s our job to use our expertise and influence so people can trust that the food they buy and eat is safe and honest. Our strategy recognises that there are growing challenges around food safety, affordability, security and sustainability. Our strategy outlines our purpose and responsibilities, and the roles and responsibilities of others, in meeting these challenges.

We’ve gone through many changes in the FSA over the last 2 years as part of the ‘Our Ways of Working’ (OWOW) programme and as a result we’ve been repeatedly recognised as leaders within Government, for new ways of working. OWOW has positively impacted staff across the Agency, fundamentally changing the way that we work as an organisation, giving staff more flexibility and autonomy about how and where they work. The OWOW programme consists of three main elements:

  1. People Offer – We gave our people the option to choose from three different contract types depending on working pattern and location – Office/site-based; Multi-location and Home-based.
  2. Digital tools – We updated our personal IT equipment to provide our people with more modern equipment including laptops, tablets and smartphones. We now use many digital tools to enable staff to connect and collaborate more easily. Our Digital Super User community has been pivotal in supporting staff to use the new tools.
  3. Physical Spaces – We’ve refurbished our office space in York and retain a scaled down central London office space, while providing a more collaborative and modern working environment in each office.

It’s now the organisational ‘norm’ for individuals and teams to work flexibly from the best location for them and the business.

We have transformed the work/life balance for many staff, leading to greater staff retention and satisfaction, and the ability to attract high calibre candidates.

Case Studies

Farida Ahmed

Farida Ahmed Food Standards Agency case study

As a relatively new FSA colleague, five months in, I’d like to say how refreshing OWOW has been for me. Putting work/life balance high on the agenda is such a rarity (in my experience). As a working mum, even though my kids are older (12 and 17), it’s been so lovely to do the school run occasionally with my youngest and to be around when they get in rather than spending three to four hours a day commuting like I used to. My OWOW People Offer is multi-location; I work two or three days a week in the London office and the rest of time at home. Having the opportunity to attend school shows/parent’s evenings etc is such a bonus when I think about so many I missed in my previous jobs.

I can recall when my eldest was a baby, my partner and I worked shifts, he would bring our son, in his pushchair, into London at 6am for me to finish my shift and take him home. After having my daughter, the only way we could manage childcare and work was for me to return to work doing nights only. I still feel guilty about missing so many bed times.

With advances in technology and numerous ways to stay connected, the Civil Service and private sector should look to the FSA for the example it is setting as a family-friendly employer; showing how flexibility for staff pays off in productivity, staff morale and retention. It also means the Agency can attract valuable skills by casting a wider net if prospective applicants know they can work from home or multi-location. Being able to offer families flexibility around work can only be a positive thing.

Sheila Benjamin – Senior Communications Manager

Sheila Benjamin Food Standards Agency Case Study

During my time at the FSA I have brought up two daughters who are both now at university and I am the main carer for my mum. My work in the Communications team varies from day to day and no two days are the same. I enjoy my job and applying my skills across media, digital and marketing.

As a single parent the OWOW flexible approach to managing my day to day job has been a major help in allowing me to attend school meetings, events and hospital appointments. It helps me to work effectively in being a key member of my team.

Having the option to work from home or be in the office for face to face meetings and to have daily contact with team members in Wales and Northern Ireland via Skype has worked well and good opportunities for training and development has been instrumental in moving my career forward.


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