For an optimal site experience, we recommend using a different browser.
Using Internet Explorer may prevent you from accessing, and some site features may not function as expected.


Combined Millennials Value Opportunity, Mentors and Culture: 5 Panelists Weigh In

Millennials will be roughly 75% of the USA workforce in 2025. 1 No doubt, this age group is going to have a tremendous impact in the areas where they put their passion, time and energy. For the 3rd year in a row, we assembled a talented panel of five of our own millennials to dialogue with our youngest employees and summer interns, who will soon be the newest group to join the workforce. 

Take a look at what the panel discussed in previous years:

This year’s discussion was hosted by Combined Insurance’s Talent Management Specialist, Jeff Kelleher.  

Being a millennial

Jeff noted that millennials are known for many different qualities, including:

    • Having a hunger and constant need for change and feedback
    • Believing in work-life balance
    • Seeking out employers who offer development and promotional opportunities
    • Being tech savvy
    • Being inclusive, open-minded and focused on culture

            Leading with these generalities, Jeff kicked off an informative discussion. Here are a few of the most interesting ideas that panelists and audience members shared.

            Millennials want coaches, not bosses

            As an expert in talent, Jeff has learned that when millennials feel supported and valued by their leadership they increase their productivity.   When a leader acts in this way, the millennials on his team also tend to value the relationship more. As a result, the dynamic between “boss” and “reports” becomes more like a real team, with the boss taking on more of a team coach or captain role. Experts explain that this mentality comes from this generation having more parental supervision than previous generations did, leading them to expect more hands-on mentoring and collaboration from their leadership.2

            As one panelist, Christopher, explained, it really comes down to semantics. Bottom line, everyone agreed they wanted a leader who was more senior to them, who had more experience, and who would challenge them to a reasonable extent.

            Culture really matters

            As the most collaborative and inclusive generation to date, these young adults expect their place of work to embrace the same idealism and values they hold so dear. Millennials look to create a company where they want to come to work, and this means in more ways than one. They want their work to be meaningful, and they want to be able to do it on their own time. They also want companies who cater to these values is by providing flexible schedules, as well as social and volunteer activities outside of the office where employees can come together over causes they care about.3

            Panelists all agreed they appreciate that promotions at Combined are merit-based and don’t necessarily depend on how long they’ve been at the company.  They also discussed how each individual can make a difference at the company, and how there is an abundance of opportunity to work on new and challenging projects and with many different types of people.

            Misconceptions can hurt

            There are many misconceptions about millennials and often a reputation of entitlement and even laziness. The panelists weighed in with several interesting observations:

            • “Millennials are no lazier than the generations before. Every generation looks down on the one below.”
            • “The key to overcoming the Millennial stigma is to do your job and do your job well”
            • “What some may find lazy, others see it as a more efficient way”

            The meeting concluded with the “seasoned” panelists offering advice to the interns as they prepare themselves to enter “the real world”:  always be proactive and open to new experiences.


            1 Winograd, Morley, and Michael Hais. “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.” Brookings, Brookings, 28 July 2016, opens in a new window
            2 Marcinkus Murphy, W. (2012), Reverse mentoring at work: Fostering cross‐generational learning and developing millennial leaders. Hum. Resour. Manage., 51: 549-573. doi:10.1002/ opens in a new window
            3 Winograd, Morley, and Michael Hais. “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America.” Brookings, Brookings, 28 July 2016, opens in a new window