Resilience in young workers
Young workers are exposed to unique challenges and are twice as likely to get hurt than their older counterparts.
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Who is a young worker?
A young worker is anyone under the age of 25 who is participating in the workforce. This includes individuals entirely new to work, or those facing new hazards.
How is young worker resilience different?
Young workers are exposed to unique challenges and are twice as likely to get hurt than their older counterparts. Reasons why they are more likely to get injured include inexperience, lack of training, willingness to take risks, hesitancy to ask questions, and inadequate orientation and supervision. Young males are more at risk for injury than the overall working population. It is important to take all this into account when you are orienting a young worker to your team. Assisting them in building resilience when it comes to their work and helping them identify hazards that could put them at risk is a great first step.
Psychosocial risks are work-related stressors that can negatively affect an individual's resilience, as well as an organization's effectiveness. Examples of these risks could include lack of role clarity, indirect communication, and job insecurity.
Young workers are especially vulnerable to psychosocial risks because some of these are rooted in a lack of work experience. Helping a young worker develop their resilience can affect how they tackle issues related to these risks, and you can do this by establishing psychological safety. Include your young workers in discussions around company decisions and support them speaking up to make changes without judgment or criticism. Encourage this kind of input regularly so they build the confidence and knowledge to make an impact.
Sometimes the hazards that workers are exposed to are more obvious, like ladder use or heavy machinery. Other times, they aren't so obvious, like chemical exposure, noise, or airborne particles. These hazards are often hidden and can cause health complications immediately or years down the road.
The presence of physical hazards can affect the resilience of all workers by adding stress that can build over time, making it more difficult to recover. Knowledge and information about how to spot these hazards can be lifesaving. Learn how to identify hazards using SAIF's hazard and communication page (saif.com/hazardID).
While physical hazards are important to know, it's essential to help young workers develop their resilience in the face of hazards that are unseen, such as those presented by a lack of psychological safety.
Suggestions to help young workers build resilience
- Make trainings age appropriate. By encouraging questions and keeping instructions clear and concise you create a safe space for young workers to voice their concerns.
- Supervision is important. Heavy objects, knives, hot surfaces, and hazardous machinery are all examples of risk factors within the workplace that young workers are exposed to. Ensure that they receive training to recognize these hazards and know what to do in the event of an emergency.
- Retrain employees after near misses or accidents/ incidents.
- Check all equipment. Some of it can't be used by workers under the age of 18. Label the machinery/ tools if necessary.
- Establish a safe connection with young workers. It will allow for an open line of communication that's built on honesty and trust.
- Involve young workers in developing safety solutions.
For more on this topic, visit saif.com/wellbeing.