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Generation gaps at work create communication, safety issues

People are working longer and later in life, in New Jersey and across the U.S. An analysis of federal employment data by the Pew Research Center found that the percentage of Americans who were 65 or older and working at least part time increased from 12.8 percent in 2000 to 18.8 percent in 2016. The increasing age of the oldest workers presents challenges when it comes to workplace communication.

The workforce includes a greater range of ages, as four generations of Americans are at work part time or full time in 2017. The generation gaps create problems of communication that go deeper than mere pop culture or using new slang correctly. Younger workers may prefer interactivity when it comes to receiving safety information, whereas older workers might be more comfortable with lecturers.

Younger workers are also more likely to be comfortable with new technologies, generally, than their older counterparts. A survey conducted by Pew Research in 2013 indicated that 55 percent of Americans overall owned smartphones, but only 18 percent of Americans at or over the age of 65 had them. Once the technology is adopted, though, the users often become avid; of people 65 or older who used the internet, approximately 71 percent said they went online every day.

A potential solution is to have employees work in groups during safety orientations and other necessary training. When it comes to training via computer, even pairing people who are both uncomfortable with computers showed benefits in that the pair would be less intimidated by technology if they could work together. Communication of safety information is critical to workplace safety, so business owners should focus on getting the message across by whatever means are effective. Individuals who are injured at work due to communication failures might want to have legal assistance in seeking workers' compensation benefits

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