Millennials have become the largest portion of the American workforce. That’s one of several reasons to think about how employers communicate with their people.

“We have to learn the language of the folks we’re trying to lead,” said Whitney Watson of Northrop Grumman, the operator the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence. He spoke at last week’s Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Different isn’t wrong, he said, it’s just different. He’s right.

For the first time, he said, America has five generations in the workforce: the silent generation (born 1928-45), the boomers (‘46 to ‘64), Generation X (‘65 to ‘80), millennials (‘81 to ‘97) and, yes, a few post-millennials (‘98 or later). The three in the middle each account for roughly one-third of the workforce, but boomers are retiring in big numbers and millennials have become the largest of these groups holding down a job.

That means -- and this is a generalization -- more workers who want one-on-one feedback, who are goal-oriented and entrepreneurial, and whose communication style is less formal than in previous generations.

And this: “They demand a work-life balance,” Watson said.

Suffice it to say they are tech savvy and even, at Watson put it, tech dependent. That can shape communication styles too.

(Heads up, Whitney. Later this week, The Examiner will have dueling commentaries -- one from a millennial, one from a boomer -- on generational issues more generally.)

Quick hits

Scooters has opened on Noland Road, and just up the street at Noland and I-70 is a coming-soon sign for Jack in the Box. … I’ll be keenly interested to hear what folks have to say this Thursday at the “Talent for Tomorrow” regional meeting. That’s a task force looking at how Missouri is going to fill the gap between good jobs and the number of workers trained and otherwise qualified to fill those jobs. The meeting is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Adam’s Mark Hotel & Conference Center, 9103 E. 39th St., across from the Sports Complex. Lara Vermillion of the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce points out that this is a good chance for businesses to make their voices heard. She’s right. This is among the state’s most pressing issues. The task force report is due late this summer.

Tax fairness

I caught up with Independence City Manager Zach Walker about last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that seems to open the door far more widely for states and cities to collect what’s called a use tax. But hold on.

“The short answer is, yeah, it’s still really up in the air,” he said.

A use tax is a sales tax on online purchases just like the ones paid at an actual store. It’s a matter of fairness more than anything, though declining revenues from brick-and-mortar stores have hamstrung lots of local governments.

Congress could solve this, but won’t. The Missouri General Assembly could solve it here, but hasn’t. Voters in Blue Springs and Independence earlier this year said no to their cities collecting it, though dozens of Missouri cities have said yes.

The court threw out a rule that a company had to have a physical presence in a state for that state to collect use taxes. That seems to take down a major barrier to moving forward. Walker said it’s not that simple.

This will probably still take state-level action, he said, and that remains a city priority in Jefferson City, as it has been for years. The game has shifted, legislators. It’s your turn.

-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. He’s on Twitter at @FoxEJC.