What can Baby Boomers and Gen X pass onto Gen Y and Z to help improve workplace safety and are they listening? And what can Gen Y teach baby boomers?
Sometimes it’s a challenge to decide which generation you slot into and where your co-workers slot into the workforce as well. Baby Boomers post war babies are now middle age and entering senior years. In the economy, many are now retiring and leaving the labour force. Gen X is the generation born after the baby boom ended ranging from 1961 to the 1981. Then Gen Y applies to those born in between the dates of 1982 and June 1995, followed by Generation Z people born between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s.
One generation of employees exhibits maturity and steadfast loyalty, following the safety rules onsite. Meanwhile the workers of a younger generation who show brilliance and application have an exit strategy if boredom or dissatisfaction sets in, and are less likely to follow the safety rules.
Generation Y and Z have been a product of the self-esteem movement that baby boomers and Gen X did not have. Some of the baby boomers may have instilled it when they became parents to their children, who are now the same age group of workers they are experiencing challenges with.
Generally, it is the baby boomers and Gen X managing the safety of the site and trying to instill it in these younger workers. Every body responds to praise, although some people ‘shove’ it off as part of the job and not recognize a compliment. However, it is still important to give praise when it’s due. A manager, who can work this way, will be shown respect from others.
Often face to face communication hasn’t been established at a satisfactory level with the Gen Y’s and Z’s because of the computer age, mobile phones and other technology that is part of today’s society. However, when communicating safety issues, a good solution is to acknowledge at the commencement of a meeting or training that in their personal life text messages, language and modern methods of technological communication is great, but in their work life they need to use commonly understood communication which is either face to face or written.
This is acknowledging the differences that people are now experiencing and in essence showing some form of respect for that, but moulding the work force together as a team.
A manager who invites the members for input into conversations answering their queries and explaining some of the reasons behind the safety issues, helps to make them feel involved and creates the camaraderie and respect which some may have not experienced.
Teaching anything technical is still paramount and after explaining something to them, get them to demonstrate with ‘hand’s on learning and coach them through the process to get them involved.
Individual coaching of a device is another way to teach, as they want to learn, even if bravado is the face they showing. Gen Y and Z’s in spite of everything want to achieve and receive praise for a job well done and self respect is sometimes a missing key to their former learning.
Manage a young worker every single day and think of yourself as a coach. Check in and help prioritise, teach tricks, and steer their path as they want mentoring, teamwork and responsibility. Just be sure to give them work that is challenging enough to them to warrant daily input and paint a picture of when they mastered this task for a set time, there is something else they can work to achieve.
Baby boomers and Gen X’s need to realise the younger employees’ maybe short-term workers. One of the most notable characteristics is that they will switch jobs over the course of their careers more than any generation before them. Share their future in the company so they can understand there is a career path and you are likely to entice them to stay longer.
Understand they are not like your generation and never will be. Also a great reminder is that it was adults that started this technological revolution and this younger generation are the by-product. It’s not their fault and it is the evolution of society.
On the flip side the Gen Y and Z’s can teach others how to use technology. It has been and remains an integral part of their daily lives. With a whole generation addicted to it, you can’t ignore it and baby boomer lifestyle is not going to dominate the office forever. So start up conversation and be brave enough to ask for help and in lay-man’s language. Generally, they will be happy to be the teacher.