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Employees Express Safety Concerns In New Study

A new workplace safety survey reveals a frontline workforce in crisis.

According to the 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey, nearly half of America’s frontline workers would quit their jobs if they could afford to, citing threats to their personal safety at work. The study found that 76% of employers have experienced a security incident in the last year, and a majority of frontline workers feel that the threat of physical harm is on the rise.

Employee Safety Concerns

Here are some other findings from this study:

Frontline workers are on edge about their safety. More than half (58%) of frontline workers feel that the threat of physical harm is on the rise, and 40% say they are more concerned about personal safety at work than they were a year ago.

Violent, aggressive and erratic behavior from customers and visitors is the main cause of distress for workers. Healthcare workers are especially concerned: 69 percent report worries about aggressive or erratic behavior among patients or visitors, and 59 percent regularly worry about being assaulted at work. The two biggest sources of concern for retail workers are erratic or aggressive behavior from customers (58%) and theft (58%), and nearly half (49%) of retail workers say theft and vandalism are on the rise.

There is a significant divide between employers’ perceptions of job safety and the experiences and concerns of their workers. Around 69% of leaders or managers report feeling very safe at work and 67% think their direct reports feel equally safe. Yet only about a third of workers (37%) feel safe at their workplace.
Those differences are also stark across generational lines: Gen Z is consistently two times more concerned about safety than their Boomer counterparts. And these younger workers will take action to prioritize their safety if employers won’t. More than 30% of Gen Z workers say they have turned down job opportunities or switched jobs because they’ve felt vulnerable or at an increased level of risk.

Ensuring workers are physically secure is an urgent business need. More than half of frontline workers who feel that their jobs do not prioritize employees’ physical safety have said they plan to leave in the next year if their employer does not act to improve safety. Two in five frontline workers would quit their job due to safety concerns if they could afford it.

“The reality of living in America in 2023 is that every day, workers are sacrificing their lives and endangering their physical safety and their physical, mental, and emotional health in the workplace–and it needs to stop,” said Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, and author of Dying for a Paycheck. Commenting on the findings of the 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey, and drawing on his 50+ years of research expertise as a leading theorist on business and the future of work, Pfeffer added: “This new data is a wake-up call that we need to focus on human sustainability. The environment we work in is just as important as the one we live in, and we absolutely must build better, healthier and safer workplaces.”  

For more information about the study, visit here.

Continuity Insights

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