Take steps to bridge generations
Many workplaces today include multiple generations including Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z.
How does this affect safety?
An increasingly significant generational gap in U.S. workplaces is putting younger and older workers on a potential collision course over communication styles and work habits. 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 seen what can result from being unsafe. They typically have fewer accidents after learning safe from unsafe practices.
Younger folks may feel invincible and think they haven’t gotten hurt yet regardless of whether they work safely. They also may feel that doctors can fix everything. During your safety meetings, have a blended session with handouts and videos so you can cover all learning styles.
While each generation has something to offer the other, supervisors are challenged to earn a commitment to safety from each generation.
Here are some key considerations:
- Allow open dialogue when discussing safety.
- Cross mentoring can be one way of bridging generational gaps.
- During safety meetings, allow employees to volunteer how they practice safety outside of work, in hobbies and pastimes, for example.
When managers bring younger and older workers together on the common ground of safety, they can greatly improve engagement, motivation and safety for all.
WR’s Rick Means, Directory of Safety and Education, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x118, or [email protected]