By Liz Richards, MHEDA Executive Vice President
For those of you who attended MHEDA’s 2015 Convention, you know our theme “Culture that Rocks” related to how you can and should modify your culture to support all the various generations within your workplace, Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers and the Millennials. I just read a really interesting blog post by Robert Tucker titled “Are you Ready for the Millennial Majority?” In his blog, Tucker notes that this generation has now become the majority of the American workforce and how this “offspring of the ‘forever young’ Baby Boomer generation” are taking over. According to the Pew Research Center, 53.5 million U.S. workers are aged 18 to 34, surpassing Gen X-ers, who are at 52.7 million. Tucker goes on to highlight 6 observations where this demographic will impact the workplace, the economy and our world. It’s an interesting dialogue – you can find it here: www.innovativeresource. com. Click on Blogs.
Seth Mattison, one of this year’s convention speakers addressed the audience in two different sessions. In his first general session, Mattison spoke about the “next gen” in the workplace and how a hierarchal model doesn’t work for the Millennials. Because of many factors, including the environment in which a Millennial was raised, they don’t subscribe to the notion of a “pecking order” when it comes to the workplace. Mattison went on to describe a more centric “networked” model. It was interesting to see nods of approval from most attendees while others didn’t seem quite as enamored with the concept. During Mattison’s subsequent workshop, he addressed the subject of “next gen” customers and how best to interact in this context. The overwhelming majority of attendees (the survey said!) embraced his message and several people told me they were in the process of modifying their org charts. Interesting.
Tucker describes the Millennials as the game-changing generation and I have to agree. Our daughter Katie will be entering her senior year of college this fall and I must admit, she is definitely all about challenging tradition and changing the rules of the game. She possesses the traits you read about Millennials when it comes to finding her place in the workforce. How will I make a difference? What will I find rewarding in this job? Will I be “pigeonholed?” One of Katie’s favorite books she read for a Business class is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. Have you read it?
During the hockey playoffs, our friends at AK Material Handling Systems challenged us to a bet. If the Minnesota Wild won the series, we would have to donate to a charity of their choice and vice versa if the Chicago Blackhawks won. For you hockey fans out there, you know it was a sweep and the Hawks took the series in four games. We all decided as a group, we should still donate to the charity that AK selected so donning our Hawks gear, we visited the local IL branch of the Minnesota based charity, Feed My Starving Children. (www. fmsc.org) It made us all feel so good to give back. AK is the poster child for community-minded events like this and these are the kinds of things that Millennials really crave.
On May 18 this industry lost an icon and great leader, Howard Bernstein who was MHEDA’s President in 1965. Howard was that rare individual who never stopped giving back to this industry right up until his passing. After selling his company just a few years ago, Howard established and seeded the Howard Bernstein Industrial Distribution Scholarship Fund. When Howard first contacted me after selling Atlas, he said “I’m unemployed now (at 88 years ‘young!’), I have an idea and would like your help.” Howard made it his mission to generate awareness of this scholarship among industry members and schools around the country raising tens of thousands of dollars and awarding numerous scholarships to worthy students. Right up until Howard passed away, he was still developing innovative ideas to get his message across to encourage the recruitment of young talent. Howard had a saying and it truly spans generations. “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Howard was my dear friend and a wonderful mentor. Rest in peace Howard and thank you for all you have done for this industry and for MHEDA. To read more about the impact Howard has made during his lifetime, turn to page 20.
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