May 28, 2014

Next Generation Service Center Employee is on the Way

In the May and June issues of Metal Center News, we report on the challenges service centers face when hiring, training and retaining the next generation of employees. With an industry workforce that tilts decidedly toward retirement age, it's an issue most distributors will be dealing with in the coming years.

"One of two people in our industry will be turning over in the next five years," says Don McNeeley, president of Chicago Tube and Iron Co. That demographic reality promises an influx of 20-somethings entering the service center workforce.

It's the natural tendency of humans from one generation to compare themselves more favorably to those in another, so conflicts are inevitable. The old fogies and the young punks won’t always see eye to eye. Even if some of the generational stereotypes hold a grain of truth, there’s little the service center operator can do to change that. Instead, say the experts, employers must learn to deal with the personnel they have, not the ones they wish they had. If the next generation of young worker is unaccustomed to criticism, for example, that’s a trait the smart manager will figure out how to modify, rather than simply bemoan.

As Marmon/Keystone's Vice President of Human Resources Linda McCue observes, "As we are hiring new people, we recognize they have different core values. Once we recognize it, then the challenge is how we are going to relate to it."

And a funny thing can happen when youthful new employees are embraced rather than just tolerated. "They tend to energize the people who have been around awhile," says Roger Lindsay, Ryerson’s human resources manager.

For more on training and retraining of employees, see the June issue of Metal Center News.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016