Originally posted by Lindsey Pollak on http://www.benefitspro.com

Millennials (ages 18-31), also known as Gen Y, are 80 million strong, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As this generation climbs into leadership roles, they’ll change many aspects of the workplace, including the benefits landscape.

To help better understand this giant generation of consumers and employees, it’s time to dispel five common myths about who millennials are and what they want.

1.) Millennials all live at home and don’t have financial responsibilities.

True, many millennials are living at home today. Three out of 10 parents (27 percent) have at least one adult child, between the ages of 21 and 40, still living with them at home, according to the National Housing Federation. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have financial responsibilities: Mom and Dad might be asking Junior to chip in on rent or expecting him to pay off his student loans they co-signed.

The Hartford 2013 Benefits for Tomorrow Study found two-thirds of workers today have loved ones relying on their paycheck, with 10 percent of millennials reporting that their parents rely on their salary. That’s all the more reason for millennials to protect their paycheck by signing for disability insurance at work.

For many millennials living at home, one of their primary financial responsibilities is dealing with student loan debt. The average debt for students graduating in 2013 is $35,000, according to Fidelity. If parents are co-signers on those student loans, it’s in their best interest to encourage their kids to sign up for disability and life insurance at work. Disability insurance can help keep an income coming in (and the ability to pay back loans) should the millennial worker become ill or injured off the job, while life insurance can help provide funding to pay off student loan debt.

Help the millennials make the connection between benefits and their very real financial responsibilities.

2.) Millennials want all digital communications all the time.

True, millennials are considered “digital natives.” They’ve grown up with technology their entire lives. While they like digital options, many appreciate help in real life, as well. They appreciate an advisor who can provide advice in whatever way they desire — text, email, instant message, phone call, or an in-person meeting.

Help millennials by providing the benefits advisors that they’re looking for. They want to be able to review their benefits options online but have a real-live person available to answer their specific questions. Help your clients make this connection possible.

3.) Millennials all want to start their own companies like Mark Zuckerberg.

True, many millennials think like entrepreneurs. Many even have side projects, like a blog, in addition to their 9-to-5 jobs. But the vast majority of millennials like to work for companies of all sizes — as long as those companies understand them and their needs.

Help the millennials on your team feel like entrepreneurs, by allowing them to express their individuality and effect change around them. And share this advice with your employer clients, as well.

For example, some companies allow millennials to pursue small projects related to their particular interests or participate in occasional community service projects during work hours.

4.) Millennials don’t want baby boomers’ help or advice.

True, millennials enjoy their independence. But in the workplace they actually appreciate theirbaby boomer co-workers’ experience and knowledge. Don’t forget that the millennials are the children of baby boomers, and many raised their kids in their own image. Millennials tend to like and appreciate their baby boomer bosses and colleagues.

The Hartford 2013 Benefits For Tomorrow Study found that 93 percent of baby boomers believe millennials bring new skills and ideas to the workplace, and 89 percent of millennials agree baby boomers in the workplace are a great source of mentorship.

Help millennials by making connections between the two generations — either at your workplace or among your employer clients. Consider the idea of co-mentoring, in which employees of different generations share knowledge and skills with each other.

When you are having discussions around company policies and decisions, make sure to have representative employees present from all generations in your company. This way there will be someone who can offer each generation’s point of view on the items under discussion.

5.) Millennials aren’t serious about being leaders.

True, millennials are often viewed as “entitled” and carefree. Case in point: the YOLO (you only live once) catchphrase. But many are leaders in all aspects of life. In fact, 15 percent of millennials are already in management positions, and there are many young people who want to move into leadership positions soon.

Help millennial leaders to understand that they need to protect their potential. Show them how insurance benefits can keep them on track to meet their professional and personal goals. For example, if they can’t work because they tore a ligament during a 5K, disability insurancemay help them pay bills — and stay on track to buying a house or traveling around the world.

By helping millennials as both consumers and employees, you can better advise your clients and manage your business today — and into the increasingly millennial-dominated future.