millennials doing a project at work

Safety critical as numbers of younger, millennial workers increase

Millennials will overtake baby boomers in 2019 as the largest U.S. population group, according to government data analyzed by the Pew Research Center. The Pew Center also notes that about 56 million millennials (those born from 1981 to about 2000) now work compared to 53 million baby boomers remaining on the job. Millennials make up about 33 percent of the U.S. population, according to Pew.

This is changing the workplace in many ways and will impact worker safety. These younger workers are more likely to be injured and they take safety issues in the workplace seriously. So should you.

Defining moments of tragedy affect millennial view of safety

Defining moments for millennials were tragic events such Columbine High School shooting, the 9/11 terrorist attacks and, more recently, the killings at Parkland High School in Florida. It only makes sense that safety would be a priority to them. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, millennials report that personal safety is a leading cause of stress in the workplace.

Younger workers are more likely to be injured on the job than older adults, primarily because of their lack of experience, less on-the-job training and doing jobs in an environment more likely to lead to injury as in the restaurant, hospitality and retail industries, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millennials want evidence that their company is committed to and has a culture of safety. This translates in to new methods of communication. While boomers may long for the yellow pencil with an eraser, social media is second nature to millennials. Use it to attract new employees and engage current millennials while you have them.

Ideas for involving employees in the safety process

Here a few ideas to spark our millennials into being key contributors to your workplace safety team:

  • Sound bites vs. PowerPoints: Think about it. Virtually all safety training at BCN Services uses an online video format, averaging 10-15 minutes and covering more than 200 safety topics. We use music, voiceovers, compelling graphics and quick quizzes. E-learning offers 24/7 accessibility. These courses can be completed individually (the boomer preference) or in group settings (the millennial preference).
  • An electronic display screen: Many of us have an extra computer or laptop in the storage closet or vacant work cube that can be used to create an electronic display board to serve up safety sound bites and tips. You can even rotate placement of your display screen in different areas of your business: Consider the break room, meeting rooms, lobby area, or at the desk of an employee’s anniversary date for a day. This is a minimal effort that highlights your concern about employee safety. Ask your millennials to share some sound bites from their training that can be placed on this “display screen.” Boomers might even get a kick out of it, too. Heck, ask them to come up with a safety tip or two.
  • Release the superhero: Millennials multi-task and become engaged when there is a social spin and challenge. Why not use mentoring, coaching and giving direct feedback while providing opportunities for growth when it comes to safety? Consider periodic temporary assignments to help them better understand the scope of your business. Include them in a safety walk-through or audit. Ask them to complete the free OSHA 10-hour training which BCN Services offers annually. Or have them help organize an ice cream social to promote employee safety whether in the office, warehouse, kitchen or an off-site work assignment.

When it comes to safety, allow many employee views to be heard as you collaborate across all employee spectrums and work groups. You may spark an idea or two that helps you develop a dynamic, high performance workforce and culture, all dedicated to employee safety and well-being.

Can the experts at BCN Services help you with safety ideas for your workplace? Give us a call or contact us anytime. We’re here to help.

Patrick Boeheim, Safety & Risk Manager