Millennials: What are they and why should you care?

Millennials: What are they and why should you care?

What are they and how do they think and value?

On November 5, I was given the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion for a session put on by the Young Executives Society at the ISSA International Conference. Our topic was on the massive influx of Millennials that will hit the workforce in the next ten years (75% of the workforce to put specificity behind the word “influx”). How do they, in general, think? What do they value differently than the preceeding X and boomer generations? Especially, how does this generation affect the larger janitorial service industry, particularly national janitorial services. Here are some of the insights derived from the panel discussions:


It was agreed amongst all the panelists that sweeping statements are often wrong when you get down to the individual. Yet, there are some commonalities among cohort generations. For Millennials, the commonalities include:

  • More ethically diverse and accepting of others
  • More affluent
  • Healthier or more health conscious
  • Technologically proficient
  • Connected with peers

Those values bring some real benefits to companies who can quickly adapt to the Millennial way of thinking. Some of those benefits include the following strengths Millennials bring to the table:

  • Flexibility and adaptability to change — With the speed in which technology disrupts and drives change in business today, the Millennials’ ability to flex and change is critical to the success and vibrancy of a company’s strategic advantage.
  • Efficient multitasking allows them to take on a diverse set of projects adding value to a company in a variety of areas. This is particularly true for national janitorial companies who often have cross function teams.
  • Their technological prowess saves millions in training and change management as they seemingly come “plug and play” adapting quickly to the company’s technology.
  • Fast leaners — They know how this get knowledge on any subject and to do so quickly. They won’t wait until a training manual or book comes out. They know they can find whatever they need to know.
  • Their value of diversity removes a lot of the office quagmires created by interpersonal issues of the past, fostering an environment where teams can flourish.

So what can facility managers and all business leaders alike do to harness the strengths possessed by Millennials?

All panelists agreed:

  • We need to evolve our business communications into the more efficient and real-time nature found in social media. Email and even text messages are fastly becoming outdated modes of communication.
  • We need to give Millennials diverse projects to work on and allow them the flexibility and social networking to achieve the goals of those projects.
  • We also need to mentor and coach Millennials on when face-to-face communication is necessary and how to do it effectively.

We need to provide an array of mobile technology to enable them to do their work and to capture their efficient work styles.


With over 86 million Millennials entering the workforce, now is too late to respond. To turn their unique abilities into better bottom and top lines, leaders from small, medium and even large national janitorial services in our industry need to be creating new work environments yesterday.


Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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