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It seems like just yesterday that the HR hubbub about engaging Millennial employees was at an all-time high.


As many employers are still devising plans to build empathetic workplaces for the Millennial generation, the next generation of workers is already sending out their resumes and joining the professional workforce. It’s time for employers to get ready for Gen Z.

Defined as those born after 1996, the oldest Gen Z’ers have just graduated and are joining the workforce. While Millennials currently make up the largest generational segment of the labor force at 35%, Gen Z is inevitably gaining their own foothold, making up 5% of the labor force as of 2018.

Creating workplaces that attract and retain a new generation has always been an HR challenge, particularly when it comes to benefits. Our recent research shows that younger employees have the least familiarity with benefits, and as they take their first job out of college, these employees are now immersed in financial management, many for the first time. Employers need to recruit these workers and ensure they’re engaged in their new roles, but a lack of benefits literacy means Gen Z’ers may not understand the value of their benefits, or how to support their own financial well-being.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn. Gen Z’ers, a fiercely independent generation, are deeply aware of the need for good grades and accomplishments to build a successful future. In fact, 91% of Gen Z’ers would be comfortable with their universities using tracking analytics if it would help them get better grades. Where Millennials highly value teamwork and collaboration, Gen Z’ers are more likely to say, “I can do it myself!”

Understanding these differences is the empathetic employer’s key to supporting Gen Z’ers as they interact with employee benefits. Here are some tips to consider as you welcome these newly graduated employees to the fold:

  • Use the right technology. If your business relies exclusively on paper benefits booklets, the valuable information you’ve compiled is unlikely to reach Gen Z workers. With 92% of Gen Z’ers holding a digital footprint, and spending up to 10 hours a day consuming online content, tools like AI and mobile-responsive benefits websites are must-haves to provide these employees always-on support and information where they already are.
  • Communicate often and in-person. Although Gen Z’ers spend a significant amount of time online, they still seek human connection in the workplace: more than 90% prefer to have a human element to their teams. A successful benefits communications plan for Gen Z workers needs to go above and beyond a one-hour HR training. Regular electronic communications, bolstered by in-person chats, are the right way to keep benefits top-of-mind, particularly since these new hires will enroll twice this year: at time of hire and during upcoming AE.
  • Focus on finances. Gen Z’ers were quite young when the Great Recession hit, but not too young to watch their parents or older siblings struggle with finances in its wake. Their post-college jobs will be their first opportunity to build financial habits that bolster them against unforeseen economic events. When asked how they define success, 60% of young adults 18-34 said that it meant being debt free —a much larger proportion than those who defined it as being rich. Employers have a great opportunity to demonstrate empathy and build relationships with employees who are open to learning the best ways to manage money, whether through total rewards solutions, or savings vehicles to support financial well-being.
  • Offer professional development support. Gen Z’s self-directed learning can be a boon to employers who know how to tap into it. Most Gen Z’ers, 58%, would like to learn a new skill, but don’t feel they have the time to do so. Employers who offer tailored training opportunities will have the advantage over those who push Gen Z’ers to study their interests in the valuable time outside of work.

Need more help communicating benefits to your multigenerational workforce? Check out our on-demand webinar below.  

Watch the Webinar Here. 

View all Posts by Rae Shanahan