Many companies are missing the mark when it comes to educating their employees about what to do in the event of an emergency. That’s the conclusion of a recent survey by Rave Mobile Safety, which found both generational and industry differences in employee perceptions about safety.

Fire preparedness got high marks, with some 87 percent of respondents indicating an awareness of their workplace's fire drill policy and participation in fire drills practiced at work.

However, only 57% said their workplace had preparedness drills in place for events such as active shooter incidents, hazardous materials incidents and extreme weather.

"Given the current landscape of the workforce, a company's ability to focus on an active shooter or workplace violence incident is absolutely paramount," said Juliette Kayyem, CEO of Zemcar and security industry veteran. "Moving forward, leading organizations need to ensure the safety of employees by bringing these policies into the workplace and putting them into practice, much like how fire drills are already a regular event for employees."

A generational divide

Companies are also doing a poor job of reaching Millennials and Generation Z workers with emergency information. Some 53 percent of Millennial respondents were either unaware of emergency plans or said that their workplace did not have them in place, compared with only 34 percent of workers 45 and older. Additionally, those in the older age group were "very likely" to report an issue in which they or a co-worker's safety was in question; whereas only 8% of Millennials said they were "very likely" to do so.

"The survey gives great insight into what employees know – and don't know – about safety processes in place at their workplace and how they feel about their safety while at work overall," says Rave Mobile Safety CEO Todd Piett. "We hope the statistics shed light on where the industry needs to improve and how we can implement technology to help workers feel safer at their place of business."

One area where most of respondents could agree was around how employees preferred to be notified of an emergency. Both employees based in their organizations' main offices and remote workers indicated text message was a top preference for receiving alert notifications. However, only 37% of respondents said their workplace currently has a mass text message notification system in place.

Intercoms insufficient

"Currently the top way of notifying employees about an incident that happens while they are in the office is through an intercom system, but when they are remote, they would prefer to be alerted by text message," Don Aviv, President, Interfor International, points out from the findings. "As the number of Millennial and Generation Z employees rises, and where we work from becomes more fluid, organizations will need to move beyond a loud speaker announcement to alert employees – mobility will play a key role in this."

There were differences among industries, too. A majority – 90 percent – of those in education feel safe at work, yet only 20% feel like safety is not a priority to their employer. In the healthcare industry, 42 percent prefer mass text messages for emergency communications, yet only 17% of their employers use this method. In professional services, 56% of emergency plans outside of fire drills have never been tested.

Piett, Kayyem and Aviv will host a webinar on workplace safety preparation March 1st. They’ll provide tips for workplace safety planning efforts and highlight what the survey results mean for businesses moving forward.

A whitepaper is available for download here.

About Rave Mobile Safety

Rave Mobile Safety provides innovative communication software for better emergency preparedness and faster response.