www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/13902---job-outlook
job-outlook.jpg

2016 Job Outlook

As safety pros change jobs, new challenges arise

April 24, 2016
Browse Job Outlook sections Next: Lay of the land
>

Previous generations of employees frequently worked at the same organization for their entire career. Loyalty was strong, both from the employer and the worker.

Nowadays, workers are more likely to change jobs multiple times during their career. Exceptions exist, of course, but changing jobs has become a fact of life in many industries – sometimes because workers choose to leave and other times because they are let go.

View the full infographic summarizing the survey findings.

In the realm of safety, job turnover carries added significance. A safety professional who leaves his or her job also leaves that organization’s safety program and culture. Meanwhile, a variety of challenges and opportunities await a safety pro who starts a new job.

How is worker safety affected by more frequent career movement among safety professionals? For Safety+Health’s 2016 Job Outlook survey, almost 800 people helped us find out, responding to questions about the status of their jobs and their organizations and whether they hoped to work somewhere else in the next five years. Most importantly, respondents provided honest, thoughtful answers to open-ended questions about whether the trend of switching jobs is here to stay – and whether that is good for safety.

Some respondents believe that a safety professional who changes jobs provides a fresh set of eyes to an organization. New safety professionals can be energized and refreshed, whereas someone in the same role for many years must guard against complacency and blind spots. New safety professionals also know what has worked – and hasn’t worked – at other sites. And they may even have more technical expertise than their predecessor.

However, most respondents said the negative effects on worker safety outweigh the positive effects when a safety professional leaves his or her position. Turnover leads to inconsistency in the safety program, respondents said, which stalls progress. An effective safety professional builds trust among workers, and if that safety professional walks away, the next person to take the job might require months or years to re-establish that trust. Lastly, many said, nothing can make up for experience on the job and in the organization.

Forty-four percent of Job Outlook respondents said they had switched jobs within the past five years. Meanwhile, 39 percent of respondents said they hope to work somewhere else within the next five years. Four out of five – 80 percent – acknowledged that they stay informed about other job opportunities within their field.

The overwhelming majority of respondents believe a more transitory workforce is here to stay. Some of the most common suggestions for organizations to keep safety professionals from seeking other employment include providing consistent leadership support, offering opportunities for advancement and assigning reasonable workloads.


Salary Survey infographic Infographic:
The survey results
summarized in one image
Next: Lay of the land
>


<
Browse Job Outlook sections Next: You said it
>

Lay of the land

In general, the job outlook remains positive for safety professionals. Responses were similar – and, in some cases, identical – to one year ago, when most safety professionals reported that their jobs were secure and their departments were stable or growing.

An overwhelming 88 percent of respondents consider their jobs “very stable” or “relatively stable.” Ten percent cited “a slight possibility I will lose my job,” while 2 percent said they “believe strongly” that they will lose their job.

How about department staffing levels? Fifty-three percent expected no changes in the next 12 months. But 26 percent predicted their departments would add more staff during that time period, compared with only 6 percent who expect layoffs. As for the previous six months, 23 percent reported staff additions, while 11 percent experienced layoffs.

As always, industry affects a person’s job outlook. More than one-third of respondents (37 percent) work in manufacturing, and 15 percent are in construction. Only 7 percent of respondents work in mining, oil and gas, where a sharp downturn has hurt employment.

Most respondents made it clear that jobs are available but sometimes require sacrifices. Typically, safety professionals must remain open-minded if they are looking for work.

“The current job market for safety professionals is good, depending on the area of the country/world and one’s willingness to relocate,” said one respondent with 30 years of experience. “It is always a good time for the right-minded safety professional to find work.”

Another respondent agreed that the job market is healthy.

“More and more companies are understanding that improvements to the safety culture bring ‘side effects’ on improvements to quality, productivity and ultimately the bottom line,” said the respondent, a safety manager in his 50s.

Many respondents said organizations are looking for experienced certified safety professionals. In some cases, organizations seek bilingual candidates or others with specialized skills. “It seems pretty good if you have a degree in safety,” said a respondent in his 30s. “Almost all the positions I’m seeing require a bachelor’s at a minimum, regardless how many years you have in the field. This is why I’ve gone back to school to get ‘proof’ I know what I’m doing.”


Salary Survey infographic Infographic:
The survey results
summarized in one image
Next: You said it
>


<
Browse Job Outlook sections Next: About the respondents
>

You said it

What respondents said about frequent job turnover

What do you think?

When a safety pro changes jobs, does it generally have a positive or a negative effect on worker safety?

More respondent comments

Q
After you start a new job as a safety professional, what is a reasonable time frame for developing a strong safety program?

“I would say [within] three years you should have a good handle on everything and have solid programs implemented. This, however, is only possible if you are supported.”

“One year to implement and establish a strong safety program. However, the safety process is a continuous process of never-ending improvement.”

“I don’t think there is a standard answer. Many variables involved: management level of commitment, effectiveness of the safety pro, level of readiness of the organization, definition of ‘strong,’ etc.”

Q
What can be done to encourage safety professionals to stay longer with their organizations?

“Management needs to support safety professionals by offering continuing education, challenging work and better recognition.”

“More money never hurts, but receiving the respect and cooperation of your co-workers and supervisor are probably more critical.”

“Give them more freedom to try new things. Let them actually ‘own’ the program vs. just owning the injuries or the problems. Basically empower them to effect change without the constant micromanagement so often associated with it.”

Q
Do you believe the trend of workers frequently changing jobs is here to stay? Why or why not?

“Yes, due to lack of company loyalty to employees.”

“Yes – until management actually demonstrates commitment by offering support to newly placed safety professionals instead of throwing the garbage on them and expecting a one-man show to do a miracle within a year.”

“I think it will eventually stabilize. Right now there are boomers, x-generation, y-generation, millennials, and they all have different job philosophies. Eventually, things will become more stable.”

“Yes. Companies fail at promoting from within, recognition, rewards, raises and communicating. It is much easier for a safety professional to trade jobs to obtain these things.”

“Yes. The younger generation doesn’t stay in one position long anymore. They are looking to advance faster than previous generations.”

Q
How would you describe the current job market for experienced safety and health professionals? Is this a good time to find a job as a safety pro?

“I believe this is a fairly good time to find a job in the safety field and it is going to get better in the near future. Looking at the trend of ages of employees in the field, there are a lot nearing retirement and very few on the younger end of the scale.”

“I think it is a good time for safety professionals. Many businesses are seeing the benefits and need for hiring safety professionals in their field.”

“Not actively looking for a new job, but when trying to hire qualified people for open positions, we find it difficult to find good people. For many safety professionals, this is probably a good time to be job hunting because if you are good, you can demand higher pay, a better title and better locations.”

“I think the market is mixed. It depends on the sector (chemical, mining, construction, etc.), region and willingness to relocate. A safety pro not tied to an industry and willing to relocate probably has the best bet to find a job.”


Salary Survey infographic Infographic:
The survey results
summarized in one image
Next: About the respondents
>


<
Browse Job Outlook sections Next: Infographic
>

About the respondents

The Safety+Health 2016 Job Outlook survey was emailed in February to 14,215 S+H subscribers; 786 responded for a 6 percent response rate.


Salary Survey infographic Next: Infographic
The survey results
summarized in one image
>


Infographic

To place the infographic on your website or blog, copy the embed code below. Paste it into the HTML source view of your page in the position where you want the graphic to appear. It should size itself to fit your content container width.

<
Return to the beginning
of the article