Over the past couple of months, different members of Team Oberg have given our advice on how to communicate with each of our generations. This has been a fun exercise, but is obviously a fluid undertaking because generations in the industry are constantly shifting.
Baby Boomers make up the majority of the corrugated industry currently, and face the challenge of attracting young talent into the industry. This is well documented. It becomes worse, because in the next decade, many will retire and push Boomers down to the minority. To replace them, the industry will have to attract Millennials that are already in the workforce, and Generation Z, who are the next group of kids to graduate.
So, let’s talk about what comes next, by talking about the defining moment of the 21st century so far:
In early August 2001, I went to New York with family for a last vacation before starting college. We went sightseeing and saw all of the iconic New York tourist spots. Grand Central Station, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Center, the Met and the World Trade Center.
Somewhere buried in my house is a picture of me at the top of the World Trade Center looking out at the New York skyline. It was awe inspiring in August 2001.
A month later, on September 11th, I was asleep in my college apartment in Texas when my mom called me and told me to turn on the TV. What I saw when I got to the TV was soul crushing. The thriving, beautiful city I had just visited was attacked.
Today is a fitting day to wrap up this series, and talk about Generation Z, because it is Patriot Day.
Per President Bush, “Our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate, and deadly, terrorist acts” on this day 18 years ago.
This coordinated attack on our country devastated all of us, but also had the unintended consequence of bringing all of us together.
Firefighters, Police and ordinary people came from across the country to New York and Washington D.C. to support and help the relief effort. People donated blood, raised money and sent supplies.
And not just this country: memorials and supply drives were held across the globe. Humanity mourned and came together.
The worst of humanity brought out the best of the human spirit.
Children born on that day are now old enough to serve in the wars that have stemmed from it. Just think about that for a moment. Those kids will be joining your facilities soon, not having experienced life before the deadliest terror attack on US soil.
So, I want us to remember that time right after the attacks on 9/11: A time when we, as a country, as a world, temporarily put aside our differences and came together. Old, young, white, black, upper, middle, lower class, man, woman and child came together.
So, yes, there are challenges in the industry communicating across many generational boundaries. Older Boomers very clearly do not understand younger Millennials, and vice versa. Gen X is caught in the middle, and Gen Z will present their own challenges.
We can focus on what makes us different, or we can focus on the common goal, work together and achieve everything we want to in our facilities and careers. Sometimes, all it takes is someone taking the first step.
So, show an interest in an older coworker’s way of doing something. Ask a millennial why they think a more technological way would help your cause. Extend an olive branch, and find a way to work together.
Now, back to Roy and your regularly scheduled programming.