When I read Penelope Trunk's overview article in this issue about the "new" work- force, my reaction was, "very interesting."

We've all heard about those impending changes in the workplace that seem to be upon us. Well, according to Trunk, a blogger on career issues with a huge following, the future is here. For this issue of HVACR Distribution Business, I gave her a simple writing assignment: What will the workforce look like in the next five years?

Let's back up a step. Those familiar with this magazine know that we consider March a special-issue month. We devote the entire magazine to one theme or topic. In the past, we've covered succession planning and disaster planning. Because we take our editorial board's input seriously, and they were interested in workforce issues, we decided to go ahead with this topic. I can't engage in a conversation with any wholesaler in which the question of how to get and keep high-performing employees doesn't arise AND the subject of how younger workers are just plain "different" from us doesn't come up.

With that in mind, I commissioned the article by Trunk. My reaction was a solid "this is really good" because of the importance of its message and impact on the industry.

One of the underlying messages in her article is that recruitment will become more important than ever, and if you're NOT going to accept the fact that new employees will be different, you had better learn how to divine which employees have the same outlook in the workplace as you do -- a tricky feat at best.

It's true that Trunk's predictions could be wrong, but they certainly seem grounded in the anecdotal evidence we're already witnessing. And while this change isn't going to occur with a snap of the fingers, it is inexorable: it's going to happen whether you like it or not and whether you grumble your way through it or deal with it head-on. For those of you with strategic growth plans of three to five years (or more), I suspect your leadership and management planning will have to address the distinctly changing work environment that includes a new approach to work and the attitude that accompanies it.

In this issue, we also include the results of an informal survey of some wholesalers to capture a further anecdotal feel for workforce issues. You'll find it fascinating.

Also, we generally like to provide a resource guide in all our special issues. With that in mind, we've included resources to help you with work-force development and training issues. One part deals with HARDI offerings -- a reminder that your association should be the first place to begin a search when seeking to improve employee performance. You might be familiar with some of HARDI's offerings, but a reminder never hurts. We've also updated educational and institutional offerings that you might find helpful.

Finally, on a mildly philosophical note, I've included an article by an author who makes some useful suggestions about how to be happier in the workplace. I don't know how I came across this author, but I suspect my publisher suggested I read him.

HVACR Distribution Business welcomes letters to the editor.

Please send correspondence to:
Tom Peric, Editor
2040 Fairfax Avenue
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

856/874-0049 or
e-mail tom.peric@penton.com.