Attendees of the recent Wholesalers Association of the North East Executive Leadership Conference in Groton, Conn., were educated on the different generations of people that occupy the current workplace.

Speaker Diane Thielfoldt presented a treasure trove of relevant data during her “Four Generations, One Workforce: Hiring and Managing the Changing Workplace” presentation to WANE members.

Thielfoldt cited a Manpower workplace study that shows 85% of professionals interact with at least three other generations at work and 78% of people in the U.S. pereceive a major divide between the point of view of younger and older people. She also pointed out the millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) is the largest and most influential adult population in American history.

“Are you tapping into what makes a difference to millennials?” she asked.

Thielfoldt also delved into employee opinions on their role in the workplace. “Eighty-six percent of the U.S. workforce describes themselves as under-appreciated,” she said. “That number has been hanging around there for 15 years. The No. 1 thing people want to hear is thank-you.”

WANE attendees also heard from longtime industry consultant Bruce Merrifield, who delivered his “Cost-to-Serve Line Item Profit Analytics” seminar. ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen was this year’s WANE Capstone speaker. Rasmussen took attendees through ESPN’s birth from paying $1,250 an hour for five hours of satellite time at night to the worldwide multimedia powerhouse it is today.

“ESPN will continue to be around because it continues to change,” he says. “They will try something and if it doesn’t work they will try the next one. Everybody is encouraged to be creative.”