In this two-part feature, guest author Hannah Ubl, generational expert at BridgeWorks, explores how generational differences play out in the workplace.
“Remember: never forget the safety stop. Safe school = Safe future.”
I will always remember this statement because, in college, I was responsible for giving tours to prospective students and their parents. During the first 10 minutes of the tour, we had a safety stop where I described the emergency call lights, campus and Boston city police functions, and the 24-hour weekend student escort service. Interestingly, in all the tours I gave, the students asked more questions about safety than their parents.
As a member of the millennial generation (born between 1980 and 1995), I understand the reasons for their concern. Our generation is incredibly sensitive to personal safety.
This heightened sensitivity is a response to the way we experienced violence during our formative, or teen, years. Baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) and gen-Xers (born between 1965-1979) have seen their fair share of violence, but the millennial generation has experienced it especially close to home. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine, and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have contributed to the creation of a generation with great concern for personal safety.
Millennials rank “personal safety” as a top workplace issue. According to a recent American Psychological Association survey, we rank it higher than any other generation as a stress factor in the workplace. As young professionals, we look for processes, documentation and recruitment language as evidence of a commitment to workplace safety.
Here are a couple ways employers can help young adults feel safe and secure at work:
Make training and security measures accessible
Millennials can access information about a company’s history, workforce, product and location at the touch of keypad. If information about safety and security is not readily apparent, they may feel insecure about working there. It boils down to transparency; making information about training and security measures readily accessible to young job candidates and employees provides reassurance.
Promote personal safety
Millennials often ask prospective employers about worksite security, evacuation plans and required safety training. It’s advisable to have answers to these questions and evidence to back it readily available. Don’t shy away from having this on your company’s career page. Top candidates will appreciate a mention of safety, and when they become employees, a safe work environment will give them a sense of pride.
Workplace safety is important to every generation, as exemplified by the UL Workplace Health and Safety Evolution of Safety Timeline. Now we have an opportunity to take advantage of the millennial generation’s heightened passion for it.
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