Creating successful engagement and benefits strategies for Gen Z.
This is the last part of our series on engaging and educating the different generations about their benefits. There are four generations in the American labor force: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Generation Z. This blog focuses on benefits strategies for Gen Z, including benefit preferences and engagement styles.
What defines Generation Z? The youngest group in the U.S. labor force grew up in an on-demand culture with Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon.com; they think about global citizenship; and have not known life without the War on Terror. With many of Gen Z still in grade school, this generation is still being defined. But as the youngest and rapidly growing group in the workplace, employers and benefits administrators need to know what benefits they’re looking for and how to engage them.
Learn more about Generation Z below.
Generation Z: A Profile
Generation Z is the youth movement in the workplace. Born between 1997 and 2012, they currently make up the smallest employment group at 5 percent. However, at 61 million people strong, they will continue to enter the workforce and take the place of the retiring Baby Boomers. They are also the most diverse generation to date, and could be the last American generation with a Caucasian majority.
Of the four generations, Gen Z is the most technology savvy group. Compared to the Millennials, they are digital natives rather than digital pioneers. They have not known life without the internet or mobile devices. On average, Gen Z uses five screens daily – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and television – and more than half spend at least 10 hours a day on an electronic device. They are also keen social media consumers, using Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. Though technology is second nature to this group, they also seek out personal, one-on-one relationships.
Despite their youth, Gen Z witnessed two major socio-economic disruptions in the United States: the Great Recession and the Occupy Wall Street movement. As such, they are defined by financial cautiousness, practicality, and pragmatism, and they are very mindful of the future.
Members of Generation Z are also ambitious and competitive. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say career growth opportunities are top priority when looking for a job, and two in five want to own their own business someday. The do-it-yourself Gen Z desires work place autonomy and prefers independence to collaboration. This group is also focused on self-improvement, through various methods, including on-demand learning.
Benefits Strategies for Gen Z
What types of benefits does Generation Z need?
Generation Z’s youth contributes to their benefits concerns. Most have not started families and many are still on their parents’ healthcare plan. However, nearly half of Gen Z worries about financial wellness such as student loan debt.
With this young and healthy group, employers should consider a high deductible health plan paired with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The triple tax benefits from an HSA (tax-free contributions, withdrawals, and account growth) can help Gen Z save for future expenses. An HSA can also be used as a retirement account after age 65. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can also be a valuable healthcare benefit for this group.
Other desirable health benefits include employee assistance programs that offer counseling and mental health services. Gen Z is much more open and accepting of mental health care, compared to older generations.
Not surprisingly, Gen Z has the lowest average student loan balance of all groups at $12,523. As more students enter college and then continue on to the workforce, however, this figure will go up. Increasingly, across all age groups, a student loan repayment or tuition assistance program would be appealing.
Engaging Gen Z with their benefits
Even moreso than Millennials, Generation Z is heavily reliant on technology. With this in mind, employers and TPAs should consider a tech-centered approach to benefits education and engagement.
Providing an engagement program that delivers information via text, email, social media, video and web-based is preferred. The material itself should be short and to-the-point, using stimulating graphics where appropriate.
One interesting facet about Generation Z is that they will also look to co-workers and family members for their expertise and information. Older coworkers should expect to be able to lend their knowledge to this fledgling group.
As Gen Z continues to grow in the workplace and bring their unique influence, employers should not overlook this group. Building effective benefits strategies for Gen Z, alongside other groups, will be key for attracting and retaining this fresh batch of talent.
For more information on benefits and engagement, download DataPath’s free whitepaper “Effective Benefits Strategies for a Multi-generational Workforce.”
DataPath, Inc. creates administrative solutions for employer-sponsored and tax-advantaged healthcare benefits.