Talking safety with different generations in the workplace

Millennials and Baby Boomers generally have different values, priorities, and communication preferences. What’s the best way to talk safety with everyone? 

Photo of older and younger worker at a table discussing project

Photo credit: Studio

Effective communication is key to safety at work. This can be a challenge in today’s workplace with different generations working together. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials generally use different types of technology to keep in touch. How can employers keep everyone on the same page (or screen) when it comes to safety?

This topic is on the agenda at the Interior Safety Conference 2017 on May 27 in Prince George.

“Whatever your values or your style of communicating, we still have to make sure we’re getting everyone on the same page,” says Sasja Chomos, a presenter at the conference. “How do we make sure we’re following safety standards and keeping everyone safe?”

Looking at different values, priorities, and ways of interacting

Sasja will be at the conference to deliver her presentation, Communication with Different Generations of Workers.

“What we have with the different generations is different values, different priorities, and different ways of interacting with the world,” Sasja says. “The goal of this presentation is to help open up people’s awareness and understanding. There’s a lot of value in seeing how each generation has influenced the other.”

In the past, for example, employers might have printed a safety bulletin to distribute by hand. But times have changed. In today’s workplace, while many older workers still prefer a print copy, most of the younger ones rarely print anything.

“That might mean you have an email newsletter that can be printed or read online. You might want to capture some of the key messages in tweets,” Sasja says.

Having fun with the generation gap

Sasja says they’ll have some fun with the presentation and look at some generation gap stereotypes. I got a laugh out of Sasja’s description of one stereotype we’re probably all familiar with:

“Some Baby Boomers are uncomfortable with technology, but they don’t want to admit it or have to say, ‘‘Hey I’m really struggling. Could you help teach me this?’ Instead, they point their finger at the Millennials and talk about how dumb technology is.”

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