Today, many businesses include multiple generations in their workforce, including Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Z.
An increasingly significant generational gap in U.S. workplaces puts younger and older workers on a potential collision course of communication styles and work habits.
How does this affect safety?
Each generation has different learning methods and life experiences from which to draw. Older employees tend to be more hands-on and want a personal touch, while younger employees tend to be more comfortable with electronic methods. The older generation has already experienced or witnessed what can result from being unsafe and typically have fewer accidents by refraining from risky practices.
Younger folks may feel invincible because they haven’t been injured on the job yet. They also may believe that doctors can fix everything.
During your safety meetings, use a combination of handouts, videos, and demonstrations to ensure you can cover all of your employees’ learning styles.
While each generation has unique experiences and skills to offer to others, supervisors can find it challenging to earn a commitment to safety from those with less time on the job.
Here are some helpful safety meeting considerations when training multiple generations:
- Encourage open dialogue when discussing safety.
- Bridge generational gaps with cross-mentoring.
- Encourage employees to share how they practice safety outside of work in hobbies and pastimes.
Bringing workers of all generations together to find common ground on safety issues can greatly improve engagement, motivation, and safety for all.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].