ASSP Addresses the Younger Workforce: What I Learned as an Industry Newbie and Youth

As the second day of ASSP’s Virtual Safety show for 2020 wraps up, I am absorbing as much as I can about the industry and what the future holds. One discussion I found poignant to myself—and nearly every industry person—was the discussion of Millennials in the workplace.

I joined the OH&S team last fall, and my one-year anniversary in the safety industry is approaching. Since joining the industry, I have learned quite a bit the safety profession as a whole, but I have also thought about what the future might hold for the industry and its players. This year’s virtual ASSP show (my first ASSP show at that) has already been worthwhile, as I tuned into an interesting discussion about my age group: Millennials in the workplace.

Now, I am a young 23-year-old, but I was born in 1996, which means I am a “cusper” and someone who skirts the line between a Millennial and a Gen Z. Nonetheless, I am a young have just entered into the workplace, and the presentation on Millennials in the Workplace by Glenn Trout, CEO of Velocity EHS, struck a chord with me, and it likely will for you, no matter your age.

Glenn’s presentation on Tuesday, June 23—although about younger people in the workplace—appealed to all viewers of every age, whether you’re a Millennial, Gen X, Boomer or Silent (definitions of those generational categories are explained in the presentation). You can tune into any of the ASSP presentations and watch them for 60 days after the show.

His presentation shed light on the stereotypes of the Millennial generation, the reason behind their mindsets and how mangers and bosses can better work with them to bring out their full potential.

The opening quote for the presentation read as follows: “Millennials will soon be the largest generation in the workforce, and their expectations regarding occupational safety and health and sustainability are shaping the way business is conducted. Examine statistical trends, debunk stereotypes and gain insights you can use to improve your safety management system with these workers in mind.”

Like any young person might, I was a little wary to listen to a member of the Gen X generation (almost my parents’ age) talk about people my age: workers in the their 20s and early 30s. However, Glen did a great job identifying harmful stereotypes, helping the audience understand why those stereotypes exist and giving the tools to work with younger workers who, now, make up the largest generation in the workforce at one third of the workforce.

His main argument? While Millennials do have differences that are unique to their mindsets and motivations than other generations do, there is much more in common between generations than differences.

In fact, the stereotypical identifiers often attributed to Millennials (lazy, narcissistic, self-interested, tough to manage, entitled) are almost identical to the adjectives attributed to other generations when they entered the workforce in the 90s, 80s and so on.

Glenn dives into what makes the younger generation actually very similar to previous generations—especially the values and ideals that motivate them. However, he also noted that the younger generation is especially unique:

  • 25 percent of millennials speak languages other than English at home
  • 14 percent of millennials are in interracial marriages
  • Millennials are the most educated generation in history (40 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher)

I was exceptionally pleased with Glenn’s presentation, not just because I thought he appropriately represented young people (like myself), but because he drove home a mission that every person can follow, no matter on your age: do not focus much on stereotypes, and if you have biases, note them. Pay attention to the person, and keep in mind stereotypes to frame perspective, but realize that generations have more in common than not.

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