Frontline workers are on edge about their safety and its taking an emotional toll on them, according to a new survey commissioned by Verkada. More than half (58 percent) 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. 

A frontline worker is any individual — regardless of education or industry — who works directly with customers, clients or other recipients of services. 

The 2023 Verkada Workplace Safety Survey results are based on a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans who work on-location across critical sectors, including healthcare, retail, consumer banking, hospitality and services. Among key findings: 

  • 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 percent) and theft (58 percent), and nearly half (49 percent) 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 percent) 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. 

The study, which was fielded in March, was designed in collaboration with independent market research consultants at Method + Mode. To download the complete report, go here. Registration is required.