Mark Rader is the director of content marketing at Jellyvision, makers of ALEX, a financial guidance platform that guides employees through tough choices about their savings and health benefits. Views are the author's own.
Born between 1996 and 2012 (so, between Fargo and Argo), Generation Z is an employee demographic with its own priorities, preferences and catchphrases; within a decade, 61 million of its members will be in the workforce.
If you want to keep recruiting and retaining the best talent, now is the time to start tweaking your benefits communications — and the preferences of many members of Gen Z may hold some lessons.
Prioritize financial guidance
Gen Zers are children of the 2008 recession and have experienced the long-term effects of the financial crisis firsthand. Rising college costs have burdened them with even more student debt than their millennial predecessors.
The average 2018 college grad with student loans owes $28,565, perhaps explaining why so many care more about financial security than personal fulfillment. Only half think they’ll be able to retire by 60.
To help these workers and others achieve financial security, you can do a few things:
- Provide a student loan assistance benefit (the number of companies offering this benefit doubled in the last year).
- Highlight how contributions made now can benefit from compound interest.
- Provide holistic financial guidance that addresses all financial challenges and offers advice on which ones to tackle first.
Share everything digitally
Employees prefer digital enrollment 2-to-1 over paper forms, according to the 2018 Aflac WorkForces Report. While a third of your employees might love that "new enrollment form" smell, the majority prefer a digital, odorless experience. Most employers offer digital enrollment now, so if you’re still making all employees enroll on paper, now’s the time to upgrade.
Many Gen Zers prefer texting over calling, faxing or team meetings, so consider a texting service for your important benefits reminders. Just supply the message and your employees’ phone numbers to a service like Trumpia, MailUP, Mozeo or Twilio and they’ll handle the rest.
Paper has its place, but use these dead trees sparingly. Posters, table tents, standees and postcard reminders can be effective, especially during open enrollment. Pretty much everything else is a waste of resources — especially info-heavy benefits guides. Instead, share your benefits info digitally: as a PDF in an email, or on your company’s intranet or microsite. Employees will appreciate being able to search for the info they need on their smartphones.
Lean on visual content
Many of your Gen Z employees are serious users of YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and other popular photo and video-sharing apps many people my age haven’t heard of yet. Make use of these preferences in your approach to sharing information.
Consider explaining tricky benefits concepts with short, fun "how-to" videos. You don’t need a production company — just a computer and video editing software like Jing or Loom. You can record your own screen, narrating as you walk through a resource, and then trim it down to something short and punchy.
Sharing memes, GIFs, and emojis is also second nature for many, so don’t be shy about including them in your digital communications. They can grab employees’ attention, convey the tone of your message, and make your communication more human. For help finding the perfect GIF, try GIPHY.com.
Lastly, as creatures of the internet who are used to smooth user experiences, Gen Zers expect digital designs to be easy to navigate and fast to read. So when you’re designing any website or intranet content, make sure to:
- Break up information into bite-size paragraphs or bullet points (like this one you’re reading right now).
- Include white space in your text-based communications so the content (and your readers) can breathe.
- Ensure everything looks good on a mobile phone.
Adjusting your communications based on the preferences and needs of your younger workers will require some effort. But if you make it a priority, not only will everyone make smarter choices about the benefits they care most about, they’ll have a greater appreciation for those benefits — and your company.