One of the “hot topics” highlighted at NSC this year is multigenerational workforces. A panel discussion Monday discussed the fact that many employers are seeing three different generations working together (potentially baby boomers, Generation X and Millennials).

Each group may offer different skill sets and have different workplace priorities and expectations. This diversity in workplaces could provide both unique opportunities and challenges. For employers, it might be hard to manage the two.

The changing workforce demographic represents a number of challenges to building an effective safety culture. As the age profile of the workforce shifts and becomes younger, safety professionals need to consider how they can adapt their company’s safety culture to be more effective. Generational issues impacting safety culture come in various forms and can include learning styles, expectations for communications and the use of technology.

Some tips for dealing with multigenerational workforces to a company’s benefit include:

Do not underestimate them, both younger and older workers. Often, employees dismiss people they don’t understand or believe they don’t have anything new to teach them.

Training and teaching goes both ways. Create mentorships for younger workers and also have those younger workers teach older workers newer technology.