Frontline Workforce in Crisis: Verkada’s 2023 Workplace Safety Survey

Nearly half of America’s frontline workers would quit their jobs if they could afford to, citing threats to their personal safety at work, according to the 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey. The study found that 76 percent of employers have experienced a security incident in the last year, and a majority of frontline workers feel that the threat of physical harm is on the rise.

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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 59 percent 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 are on the rise.
  • There is a significant divide between employers’ perceptions 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 percent 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. Two in five frontline workers would quit their job due to safety concerns if they could afford to.

“Our research reveals a disconcerting picture for the frontline workforce driving our economy,” said Brandon Davito, Senior Vice President of Product and Operations at Verkada. “Our nurses, teachers, cashiers, and so many other workers who serve in critical roles interacting with the public are worried about their safety every time they show up to work. As employers, policy makers, and public safety leaders, we need to address these alarming trends and ensure that the safety of our people is the top priority.”

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“The reality of living in America in 2023 is that every day, workers are sacrificing their lives and endangering their physical safety and their physical, mental, and emotional health in the workplace–and it needs to stop,” said Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University, and author of Dying for a Paycheck. Commenting on the findings of the 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey, and drawing upon his 50+ years of research expertise as a leading theorist on business and the future of work, Pfeffer added: “This new data is a wake-up call that we need to focus on human sustainability. The environment we work in is just as important as the one we live in, and we absolutely must build better, healthier and safer workplaces.”

The 2023 Workplace Safety Study is a research study commissioned by Verkada. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans who work on-location across critical sectors – including healthcare, retail, consumer banking, hospitality and services – were surveyed online leveraging Cint’s global digital insights platform.

In addition to working on-site, all respondents were screened to ensure job responsibilities included regular contact with patients, customers, clients and/or guests, in addition to colleagues. An equal breakdown of employers and employees were surveyed, segmented by job title, level and managerial responsibility. The study examines worker attitudes, priorities, and concerns pertaining to physical safety and security in the workplace. The study was fielded in March 2023, and designed in collaboration with independent market research consultants at Method + Mode.

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