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June 1, 2016
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The Largest Generation

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I’ve written in this space before that the 3rd Quarter Issue of The MHEDA Journal is among the most challenging but also most rewarding issues to put together. While the 1st Quarter Issue is dominated by forecast information for the upcoming year, the 2nd Quarter is devoted to Convention and the 4th Quarter is made up of mostly Sales Success Stories, the 3rd Quarter issue has a lot more space and freedom to tackle multiple different areas of the industry at the same time.

In this issue alone, we recognize the "Best of the Best" with manufacturer dealer-recognition awards, congratulate MHEDA members celebrating milestone anniversaries, have several articles devoted to warehouse safety, recap the Convention, preview the Emerging Leaders Conference and Forklift Management 101 Conference and share tips with Millennials in material handling. 

It’s those last three items that particularly interest me, as they hit close to home. One of the things that MHEDA and our members have focused heavily on in recent years is integrating multiple generations together in the workplace. In the 15 years, there has been an influx of "Millennials" flooding into the workforce. For the purposes of this article, I’ll defer to Pew Research and label a Millennial as somebody born between 1981 and 1997. So even the youngest Millennial is either in college or already in the workforce.

When I first started writing for The MHEDA Journal six years ago, I was 21. At the time, it seemed like Millennials in the workforce were an unknown quantity that needed a code to crack. They were almost a curiosity. And we’ve devoted a ton of space in the magazine and online discussing how best to integrate this new generation with all of its unique wants and needs into the workforce. Even today, a stigma still exists about this generation (see comments that Liz Richards overheard in her column.) 

A funny thing happened though, while we were talking about how the newest generation would impact the workforce. They took over. According to Pew Research, Millenials are now not only the largest living generation at 75.4 million (to 74.9 million baby boomers), but also the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (53.5 million, surpassing Gen Xers at 52.7 million.) So while we worried about how Millenials would change the labor force, they actually became the majority of the labor force themselves. 

Not only are Millenials now the largest generation in the workforce, many of them are getting to an age where they are actually starting to move into upper management. In discussing the Forklift Management 101 Conference with Bill Ryan, he said, "For the past four or five years, the topics of ‘Succession planning’ and ‘Preparing for the future’ have come up big in these surveys. This year was no different, but this year the ‘new thought’ was: ‘Hey, how are the forklift dealers of the future getting ready to take on their new roles and responsibilities? And what is that future going to look like for them?"

Even as a member of the Millenial generation, it took me by surprise to see that we’re getting to that level now. But when I took a step back and thought about it, I realized that it must be true. Look at this issue of the magazine. We profiled John Gelsimino, Linda Anlauf and Michael Nelson, all of whom are either late Gen Xers or Millenials. 

So for all the worrying that we went through about what would happen when millenials arrive, they got here and are thriving. It appears that the future is in good hands. 


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Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association
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