This is a difficult moment for frontline workers. Already overextended, the average American worker is dealing with a new on-the-job concern: they don’t feel safe at work.
It’s hard to blame them. Today we see images of workers being accosted by irate fast food customers, aggressive airline passengers and violent hospital patients. The people who serve in these critical roles, driving our economy and providing a service to the public, make up the vast majority of America’s workforce today. Approximately 70 percent of the U.S. workforce is concentrated in frontline jobs, from healthcare to retail and service sectors.
To better understand the state of workplace safety and the emotional toll it takes on frontline workers, Verkada surveyed 1,000 professionals across major industries, including consumer banking, healthcare, retail, and hospitality. Our findings, which are detailed in full in Verkada’s 2023 Workplace Safety Survey, shine a light on the challenges facing frontline workers today.
Key findings of the 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey include:
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 percent 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 nearly 2 in 3 (59%) 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 is on the rise.
There is a significant divide between employers’ perception of job safety and the experiences and concerns of their workers. 69 percent of leaders or managers report feeling very safe at work and 67 percent 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. 2 in 5 frontline workers would quit their job due to safety concerns if they could afford to.
For more, read the complete 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey here.