Leveraging Generational Differences to Enhance Workplace Safety

In early 2016, Millennials (ages 18-34 in 2015) surpassed Baby Boomers (ages 51-69) as the nation's largest living generation. This is a dramatic change for Baby Boomers who have long enjoyed an outsized presence and influence compared to other generations. This is particularly true in the workplace, where each generation’s differing perceptions, values and interests come into play each day. The media has often characterized these differences as significant, saying these two generations can’t coexist and have a very challenging time working together.

Much of this is based on stereotypes such as Baby Boomers "live to work" while Millennials "work to live” or Millennials "want a trophy just for showing up" while Baby Boomers are "workaholics driven to earn their spot.” We all know that no stereotype applies to all members of any given generation, but understanding these broad generational characteristics can help OSH professionals enhance our company's safety performance. But how do we leverage them for the best outcome. At Safety 2017, Robert Jameson (a Boomer) and Scott Ratliff (a Millennial) will co-present, “Leveraging Generational Differences to Enhance Workplace Safety,” on June 21. “Generational differences should be viewed less as challenges and more as strengths and opportunities,” they say. They promise to share some real work examples that focus on safety and demonstrate how to effectively adopt approaches, procedures and standards to best embrace each generation's talents.

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