What Gen Z Really Wants from Employee Health Benefits

The employment landscape is diverse, and different employees have different needs and wants when it comes to employee benefits. Generation Z employees are the youngest of your employees and attracting and retaining them is crucial for the future success of your business.

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z refers to the generation born after the millennial generation. It usually encompasses people born between 1997 and 2012, meaning the youngest of this generation are pre-teens, while the oldest are already part of the workforce.

Gen Z was the first generation born after the internet had transitioned into widespread use; this generation has grown up with the internet as an integral part of their daily life. It is the “digital” generation that is more tech savvy than any generation in the workforce.

Generation Z has also grown up amongst financial woes, climate change concerns, and a pandemic. This means a lot of uncertainty in the world around them. Some researchers say that this uncertainty has resulted in a higher prevalence of mental illness amongst Gen Z. These are important things to consider when supporting this generation with employee health benefits.

How does this help you, the employer?

As the youngest generation in the workforce, Gen Z has different needs and wants than older generations. As a whole, this generation values working in an accepting and inclusive environment. They prioritize physical and mental health and value work/life balance.

Generation Z wants flexibility. Remote work arrangements are attractive to this generation, which goes hand-in-hand with flexibility. They are known to value fun and flexibility over structure.

Traditional employee health benefits aren’t as appealing nor as flexible as is required to attract and retain Gen Z – you’ll have to step out of the box if you really want to win this generation over with benefits.

Employee Benefits for Gen Z

Gen Z wants employee benefits that are individualized. They want choice and they want creativity in how they are supported with benefits. They still value traditional employee benefits like extended health, but as a young generation they are less focused on reactive health benefits and more focused on being proactive with their health.

Generation Z wants support for mental health, digital access, and wellness benefits; along with traditional benefits with a twist.

1. Benefits that Support Mental Health

Including an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) as part of your benefits package is crucial when targeting Generation Z. An EFAP gives employees 24/7 access to support for mental health. It provides free, short-term counselling which helps remove barriers that sometimes prevent employees from accessing help for their mental health. It’s a single access point for employees who are struggling – the Employee and Family Assistance Program will provide immediate counselling over the phone, then coordinate further appointments (either in-person or remote). The program also comes with online access to articles, podcasts, and tools to help improve mental health.

In addition to an employee and family assistance program, Gen Z wants benefits coverage in order to visit mental health professionals. Generous coverage to visit a clinical counsellor, psychologist, or physiatrist is an important way to show this generation that their mental health is a priority to you and your company.

It’s also important to promote a workplace culture that is inclusive and accepting of mental health challenges. This may mean training managers, hosting lunch and learns about mental health, posting intranet articles, or running a poster campaign to help remove the stigma around mental health challenges.

2. Wellness Benefits

As a young generation with fewer age-related health issues, wellness benefits are highly valued amongst Gen Z because they are proactive. Gen Z wants to elevate their mental and physical health, and wellness benefits are the best way to support this. This generation is known to have faced a high level of stress and uncertainty which may have had an impact on health. Wellness benefits are a proactive way to help prevent negative health events from occurring.

Including a wellness spending account in your benefits plan is a great way to support employees in achieving better health, while also giving them choice in how their benefits dollars are spent. You choose how much you are going to allocate to their wellness spending account, and the employee chooses which eligible wellness benefits to spend them on.

Other wellness benefits that are important to this generation include gym subsidies, personal training sessions (like LifeWorks LIFT) and smoking cessation programs. Be creative and include lots of digital options to appeal to the techie side of the Gen Z.

3. Digital Access

Gen Z is the digital generation, so having a good digital presence is essential to appeal to this generation. The first and most obvious way to have a good digital presence is to have a user-friendly mobile app and online interface for employees to interact with their benefits plan. They’ll want information at their fingertips, and an easy way to make claims, check claims status, receive direct deposit reimbursement, and more. They are likely to use a digital benefits card as opposed to a physical card.

You’ll also have to be creative in including digital access in the benefits themselves. Virtual healthcare is a great example. Virtual healthcare allows employees to connect with doctors or nurse practitioners using video chat. It’s available 24/7 and can address many of the complaints that typically necessitate a visit to the doctor’s office. For Generation Z employees who are already so comfortable with technology, accessing medical care digitally just makes sense.

4. Traditional Benefits with a Twist

Even though Gen Z are digital wizards who love technology and new and innovative ways of doing things, they do still want and need more traditional employee health benefits as well. It’s important to provide more traditional benefits (such as extended health, dental, vision care, disability) but it’s also important to tweak them to make them more relevant to Generation Z.

For example, including a virtual pharmacy as part of your prescription drug coverage is likely to be well-received by Gen Z. They already have the ability to receive many products and services directly to their door, so receiving their prescription drugs in the mail just makes sense. You’ll also have to tweak the coverage offered in traditional extended health. For example, covering a wider range of paramedical practitioners than a traditional plan is a must. Gen Z wants to visit naturopaths, acupuncturists, and dieticians, not just traditional providers like massage and physiotherapists.

Tweaking disability coverage to include disability management services is another smart strategy. This generation wants an inclusive work environment, and these services help focus on the abilities of an ill or injured worker. A customized return-to-work plan focused on inclusion.

Good advice is key

When supporting a multigenerational workforce, it’s important to understand what matters to each generation. Is your plan optimized to appeal to one of the fastest growing generations? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone or in-person or contact us for a comparison quote.

Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefit packages that work as hard as you do.

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