Working With Young Co-workers

May 7, 2015

Summer is finally here, meaning you can look forward to higher temperatures, longer days and an extended holiday. But summer is not just about leisure—for many young people, summer is a time to make money while on holiday from school.

As an experienced worker, you may be tasked with assisting or mentoring a new, young worker this summer. For many of these temporary young workers, this is their first foray into the working world. They require special supervision to ensure their jobs are done safely and correctly.

Instead of dismissing a new young worker as just another co-worker, provide him or her with additional support. It will make your job easier, keep you and your co-workers safe, and may save you from having to fix their mistakes.

Because they are new to the workplace, many young workers may be unfamiliar with the risks associated with plant, equipment and substances that you and your co-workers think are obvious. Be patient with your young co-workers, as their physical and psychological immaturity can make them eager to please, but overzealous. In their eagerness, young workers may make dangerous mistakes. They can avoid such mistakes with your help and supervision.

When you are assisting a young worker, pay special attention to what you teach him or her. For many, this could be the foundation for their future working life, meaning that if you teach them something incorrect or unsafe, it could stick with them for many years. Teach them the right way to prevent accidents in the future.

Similarly, do not show them the short cuts you have gleaned along the way—they do not have the experience to rely on short cuts and deal with any problems that may arise from using them.

You should encourage young workers to ask questions, to discuss hazards and to say ‘no’ when they are confused or uncomfortable with a certain work activity. Ignoring their questions and concerns can be fatal both to the worker and to an organisation. Sometimes a fresh perspective from a young worker can usher in new, improved safety regulations and procedures.

To instil good habits, always model proper work etiquette such as wearing protective equipment and using the correct precautions.

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