In The Worksite

Engaging Gen-Z

Five strategies that focus on their health & wealth

by Kevin Robertson

Mr. Robertson is Senior Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer, at HSA Bank. Visit

Generation Z, or those born between 1996 and 2012, are joining the workforce at an increasing pace with more than 70 million young adults falling in this generation, and they are taking an active role in managing the intersection of benefits and their finances.

According to the third annual HSA Bank Health & Wealth IndexSM, Generation Z consumers are the most engaged age group when it comes to health and wealth. However, they are the least educated about the details of their health plan costs and features. Only 9%, for example, know the amount of their out-of-pocket maximum. While these young employees are naturally inclined to participate in behaviors that maintain or improve their physical health, they may not realize how to do the same with their health-related finances.

It’s imperative for younger employees to focus on their health and wealth, particularly as it relates to ensuring they are financially prepared to address future health concerns. Especially in these uncertain times, good habits started now can lead to major benefits down the road. These five strategies can help Generation Z capitalize on their energy and interests, and help pave the way for a positive future.

Strategy 1: Maximize HSA Contributions

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have proven to be a powerful tool to save for healthcare expenses in retirement. For most of us, that’s a compelling enough fact to take seriously. But for younger employees decades removed from retirement, the message can be too abstract to work as motivation. It’s important to take the time and effort to truly educate Generation Z employees so they understand why maximizing their HSA now is so vital to their long-term savings.

The first step is simply encouraging them to select an HSA-qualified health plan, such as a high-deductible plan (HDHP), that features an HSA. Our Health & Wealth Index shows that HDHP consumers are most engaged with their health and wealth at 61.1% versus those using traditional PPOs at 58.8%. Since such plans tend to require more engagement on the part of the consumer, HDHPs naturally encourage education and analysis. To help with the selection process, make sure younger employees truly grasp all the benefits of contributing to their HSA automatically with each paycheck. It’s not merely an easy way to save for their future healthcare expenses, but maxing out an HSA offers incredible tax savings and, in some cases, investment opportunities.

Contribution to an HSA can be made pretax or on a tax-deductible basis. The money grows in your account tax free and provided you use the money to pay for qualified medical expenses, no taxes are paid upon withdrawal either. That’s three tax benefits for the price of one, and over the years, this really adds up. Truly understanding all the features of an HSA account can be exciting to any employee, regardless of their age.

Strategy 2: Take Advantage of Employer Wellness Incentives

Generation Z is young, energetic and inclined toward wellness. In many ways, they’re the group least in need of motivation to get with the program. And yet, incentives can go a long way to ensuring such employees stay motivated and stick to good habits as they get older. Perhaps even more enticing to employers, wellness programs can help reduce healthcare costs since, after all, healthier employees have fewer medical needs.

Of course, to achieve benefits for employees and justify costs for employers, people must participate. Thus: incentives. Many companies offer valuable rewards linked to employee participation. For young employees just starting out, incentives such as discounted gym memberships, reduced fees on fitness equipment, and even cash payouts can be incredibly attractive. In a relatively recent trend, some employers have even begun offering HSA contributions as an incentive to promote participation in their workplace wellness program. Under such scenarios, the amount the company contributes is dependent on a worker’s personal health assessment. The more wellness focused, the more they get.

Strategy 3: Stay Up-To-Date on Annual Wellness Prevention

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) have proven to be a powerful tool to save for healthcare expenses in retirement. For most of us, that’s a compelling enough fact to take seriously. But for younger employees decades removed from retirement, the message can be too abstract to work as motivation...

Remember, just being focused on health and wealth doesn’t mean employees fully understand the benefits of their health plans. According to HSA Bank’s Health & Wealth Index, 42% of all those surveyed didn’t know if their healthcare plan was eligible for an HSA.

This creates quite a challenge for employers, since such employees have little familiarity with which preventative services their plans cover, much less how annual medical exams, dental exams, flu shots, and other recommended preventative care exams can positively impact their future healthcare costs.

Helping Generation Z understand and embrace preventative services is instrumental in capitalizing on their natural zeal for health and wealth. Both their physical health and financial health are impacted by the type of healthcare plan they choose, since plans determine in-network providers, treatment, and prescription coverage, as well as premium, copay, coinsurance, deductible, and out-of-pocket costs. When it comes to health plans, it can be easy to get lost in the details. But annual wellness prevention is a digestible topic that can be a real differentiator of the long term.

Strategy 4: Start a Healthy Habit and Stick with It

COVID-19 has changed everything about nearly everything. While much of it has been disruptive, increased time and the freedom to pursue outdoor activities and exercise have been a silver lining. As we begin to look past the pandemic and consider what life will be like in the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to recognize the value of healthy habits embraced by employees, especially younger ones, during the pandemic. Perhaps they started hiking or kayaking, or maybe they taught themselves to cook healthier meals at home. Whether or not your employees will soon be heading back to workspace, whether they will come back full time or only on occasion, this can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate and encourage young employees to stick with these healthy habits.

Since Generation Z has grown up with technology as an integrated part of their lives, instituting a new workplace initiative to monitor and measure health activities on their Apple Watches or Fitbits could create a seamless tie-in to broader wellness activities, incentives and rewards. Not only that, but such a program could connect older employees looking to create new healthy habits to their younger counterparts already doing so.

Strategy 5: Use Tools to Help Make Better Decisions

Giving employees tools that help them understand important aspects of their health plan can make all the difference when it comes to long-term health and wealth. Especially for young employees who are brand new to the workforce, and who may even be living on their own for the first time, interactive tools like online calculators are essential in helping them to make better, more informed decisions.

For this reason, HSA Bank provides online calculators available to anyone at As an employer, you can measure employee engagement using the Health & Wealth Index Calculator and offer recommendations to employees based on their engagement level. Additionally, our Health Plan Comparison Calculator helps to determine if an HSA is the right fit for you. Simply enter some basic information about your health plan, and we’ll provide you with the cost estimate of each plan. For a generation that’s never known a world before the Internet, tools like these not only make healthcare decisions more understandable, but more relatable, as well.