Multi-Gen Planning

The Gen Z Journey

How to prepare the biggest, youngest workforce for the future

by Angela Trefethen

Angela Trefethen is the senior director of retirement plans service at The Standard. Visit https://www.standard.com/.

There are a number of commonly known facts about Gen Zers. They’re digital natives, which means they grew up with the internet. They command unprecedented access to information. And they’re joining the workforce during a time of daunting inflation and a competitive job market.

A recent survey of Gen Zers by The Standard revealed results that advisors — especially those who offer retirement plans — might find unexpectedly enlightening:[1]

  • Almost eight out of 10 — 79% — say saving is their top financial goal. Boosting earnings was a close second at 78%.

 

  • A whopping 93% of respondents said a retirement savings plan is important to them.
  • A retirement savings plan is third on Gen Z’s list of top five employee benefits — after health insurance and paid family and medical leave.

Gen Zers will likely outnumber Baby Boomers in the full-time workforce in 2024.[2] How can retirement plan advisors help employers meet the needs of this generation?

First, let’s take a look at what Gen Z is going through.

What It’s Like To Be Gen Z

Gen Zers, the generation behind Millennials, are those born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. Economic challenges are potentially delaying their independence, with some moving back home before striking out on their own.

Unlike previous generations, Gen Zers aren’t as focused on one career path. They’re often choosing quality of life and economic stability over climbing the corporate ladder. And they value balance and freedom in their lives.

Our research shows that Gen Zers are feeling financially vulnerable as they enter the workforce. But of course, they still have to make money to pay the bills.

Here’s what they’re worried about:

How To Help Gen Zers

Advisors are in the perfect position to help businesses rethink their approach to benefits for this generation. You have the knowledge to propose the right solutions. What’s more, educating Gen Z about their financial well-being and helping them foster good habits will pay dividends down the road. Retirement planning is only the beginning.

Here are ways you can help:

  • Recognize They Want Help. While individuals used to turn to banks to help them save for the future, Gen Zers want help from their employers. Previous generations were resistant to being told what to do, choosing instead to decide how much to save and how to invest themselves. In contrast, Gen Zers have a higher level of trust in their employers. They may even be choosing jobs based on the benefits offered to them. And they may extend this level of comfort to advisors who are available to them through work. They view advisors as mentors who can help them navigate financial matters.
Advisors who can help provide access to emergency savings within a retirement plan can make that employer far more attractive to Gen Z talent...

Advisors who become trusted partners can help clients meet the needs of their youngest workers. You’re already in a great position to help employers by providing access to service providers who have resources they can pass on to their employees.

  • Put Tools Within Their Reach. As digital natives, Gen Zers use the latest technology for guidance and to help make decisions. This approach applies to their financial lives, too. Advisors should take advantage of tools offered by trusted providers and take the time to inform their clients about them.

The Standard’s Beyond Benefits, Gen Z Wants a Mentor research revealed that 34% of Gen Zers value financial education. Tools like Enrich in a retirement plan can help get the conversation started. This powerful tool gives Gen Zers access to information that can support their financial health. Its functionality helps those who may not be as self-aware when it comes to money.

Enrich’s online platform asks questions about behaviors and habits, then makes personalized recommendations based on those answers. It also provides actionable feedback, which builds a basis of knowledge for employees to apply to their own financial future. It’s at this point that many Gen Zers may want to consult with a mentor for more guidance.

  • Make Saving Automatic. Employers who provide comprehensive retirement benefits have a competitive edge. Offering certain features will go a long way toward helping them attract and retain Gen Z talent. For example, 55% of respondents in The Standard’s Gen Z survey said they value auto enrollment in a retirement savings plan and 40% value auto escalation.[3]

Automatic features help all employees — but especially new ones — become accustomed to saving. They’ll also appreciate the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their employer is providing the resources to help them grow their retirement assets.

  • Provide Emergency Options. While Gen Z is certainly concerned with the future, the present is what’s most important to them. As one of the least financially prepared generations in recent years, one unexpected event can add stress that could have been better managed with access to emergency funds.

Advisors who can help provide access to emergency savings within a retirement plan can make that employer far more attractive to Gen Z talent.

Connecting with Gen Zers can help you — the advisor — plan for the future, too. This is especially true for advisors whose businesses encompass wealth management. This cohort of early-in-their-career individuals will someday increase their economic standing and their retirement prospects. Advisors can influence their good habits now and build confidence in the future through their employer retirement savings plan.

 

 

 

1 Beyond Benefits, Gen Z Wants a Mentor, The Standard, August 2023
2 Glassdoor’s 2024 Workplace Trends, November 2024
3 Protector, Provider and Mentor, Gen Z’s new expectations for employers, The Standard, August 2023

 

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