If you have been reading Industrial Heating for a while, you know that we enjoy taking a technical time out in December to do a little reflecting. We look at the year that is about to end and envision how the coming year might be better. Breaking from the technical stuff is our Christmas gift to you.

This year, I thought we would share some things I ran across in 2015. We hope that these ideas (and musings) provide thought-provoking nuggets to help you start strong in 2016.

The work life of Millennials seems to be getting a lot of attention. Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are recognized as people born in the years ranging from 1983-2001. With a current age ranging from 32 down to 14, these folks are beginning to move into the workforce in larger numbers. Companies have found that keeping these new employees happy at work requires a paradigm shift. Why? Because they are somewhat different than their predecessors, and their expectations are also different. Studies and experience has categorized Millennials as follows:

  • Narcissistic
  • More open-minded
  • Lazy
  • More confident
  • Coddled
  • More self-expressive
  • Delusional
  • More upbeat
  • More civically and politically disconnected
  • More focused on materialistic values
  • More focused on fame and image
  • More receptive to new ideas

As a result, they are said to range from self-entitled narcissists to open-minded do-gooders. Reality is probably somewhere in between, but how do we successfully incorporate Millennials into our companies? Here are some ideas.

  • Open the communication lines
  • Provide frequent recognition
  • Manage cultural clashes
  • Let them make their mark
  • Offer international experiences
  • Allow remote collaboration – flexibility

Clearly, Millennials may require different things from their companies than previous generations, but FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” found the following issues to be important to employees (in 2015). These apply to today’s entire workforce comprised of multiple generations.

  • A strong leader
  • Clear reporting structure
  • Clear goals
  • Accountability with clear rewards and punishment for performance
  • Victory always defined and within reach
  • Conviction of “rightness”
  • Camaraderie
  • Open-office plan
  • Good food provided on location
  • Plenty of exercise
  • High stakes
  • Money

Work/life integration has become the new work/life balance. Since work makes up the largest amount of time spent in any one activity, it’s impossible to separate the “work you” from the “real you.” As a result, finding a job that is the “right fit” is more important than we might have realized. As employers, we need to align the right people with the right role. Technology has effectively made separation of work and home life nearly impossible, which means we need to figure out how to integrate the two.

FORTUNE offered some useful advice for managers. The sources range from Warren Buffet to George Tenet.

  • Avoid “noise”
  • Be proactive
  • Focus
  • Stay cool
  • Be visible
  • Refill the reservoir

An interview with Frank Crail, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, offered some great reflections as we approach this holiday season. He suggests that we should make the hardest calls first thing in the morning, never sacrifice family time for your business, and pray for the wisdom to do the right things, not for a successful business. He asserts, “If you do the right things for the right reasons, it might work out. If not, you’ll find your success somewhere else. But always do the right thing.”

Can you think of a better thought to wrap up this holiday package? From all of us here at Industrial Heating, we wish you the very best holiday season and a productive and fulfilling 2016.