While employers have been concerned with understanding and designing employee benefits programs to motivate the millennials, they’re now tasked with addressing the needs of the newest members — Gen Z.

The earliest members of Gen Z, born 1997 or later, are just getting started in the workforce. This generation is graduating from college and actively seeking opportunities, and it’s up to employers to provide the support and flexibility they desire.

Onboarding employees takes time, but more so with employees who are new to the workforce. Benefits are an important competitive factor in attracting talent, but that doesn’t help if employees don’t understand what makes the benefits package valuable.

Health care plans, tuition reimbursement, wealth and income protection and other benefits are foreign to candidates new to the workforce. If they’re not educated on options and how their plans work, they could make unfavorable decisions that have a negative impact on their lives and financial health.

Employers not only need to offer competitive benefits, but they should guide employees by educating them about benefits to increase their job satisfaction and reduce turnover.

Health Insurance

Signing up for health insurance and understanding what all of it means is entirely new for Gen Z employees. Most of these candidates have relied on their parents’ health plans, so they may not be aware of the nuances of health insurance.

It’s important for employers to take time to help employees understand the benefits and drawbacks of each plan option, the terminology and how the decision to go with one plan over another can impact their health and financial well-being.

To start, make sure that your onboarding program address the following:

  • Premiums: Gen Z employees should understand their share of health insurance premiums and how they’re split between the employer and employee, as well as how that premium can vary according to the plan they choose.
  • Deductibles: Deductibles are a big part of the overall health care plan. Explain how deductibles work and how the choice may impact the price they pay for health care services until they’ve met their deductible. This is especially important with a high-deductible health plan (HDHP).
  • Copays: Each health care plan has a different copay that the employees are liable for. Usually, the higher the upfront premium, the lower the copay. Some copays only kick in after the deductible is met. All of these details are important for employees to understand as they navigate plan options.
  • In-network vs. out of network care: Most health care plans have networks with which the insurer contracts to receive better rates that are negotiated with providers. The health plan enrollees need to understand that seeking care outside of the network may lead to higher upfront costs with no assistance from the insurance company (depending on the plan).
  • Tax-advantaged accounts: If you offer health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts or similar benefits, explain what value they have and how they work.
  • Essential services: Health care plans must cover a list of 10 essential services under the Affordable Care Act. Go over these services with employees during the onboarding process.

Wealth and Income-protection Benefits

Most students in the U.S. receive little to no education on finances, which can affect their ability to make sound financial decisions. Educational programs can help employees understand their benefits packages, including financial wellness benefits, and why they matter for their future.

Tuition Reimbursement or Continuing Education

Tuition reimbursement and continuing education are valuable for job candidates. If you plan on offering these benefits, educate employees on what’s available to them and under what conditions. For example, your tuition reimbursement may only pay for education up to a certain price, in a certain program of study or with the condition of satisfactory academic progress. These conditions should be clear to the employee from the get-go.

Useful Tips for Benefits Education for Gen Z

Make plans customizable.

What’s valuable to one employee may not be to another. Employees are more comfortable with customizable benefit options that they can adjust to their individual needs and goals. It’s best to offer a variety of benefits, including medical, dental, vision, wealth protection and more, giving employees the option to choose the most cost-effective benefits for their needs.

Competitive benefits play a big role in attracting talent and employee retention. The more customization options these employees have, the more they’ll feel that they’re making a sound decision for their future.

Help them understand benefit offerings.

Employees need to understand their options and how to get their benefits in order to get value from them. For many, the main limitation is the lack of awareness and education about benefits offerings.

As the employer, it’s important to communicate with employees directly and increase employee knowledge and engagement. This may be done through workshops, enrollment meetings or forums with questions and answers they can reference.

Use a combination of different communication methods. What works for one employee may not work for another but offering a mix of different options ensures that more employees will get the education they need.

Avoid using jargon. Benefits are complex and keeping it simple and straightforward is more effective for employees to understand how these options affect them in real-world context.

Talk about benefits outside of open enrollment.

Many employers try to address benefits during open enrollment. While this is a good practice, it shouldn’t be the only time employees talk about benefits. You should communicate about benefits surrounding specific life events, such as for young employees planning to start a family. These employees may not be prepared for the changes to their benefits plans, such as child care needs and pediatrician visits.

You should also offer a content library that employees can access to get information throughout the year to prepare for open enrollment. This resource should have information about benefits, health care plans, terminology and more.

Streamline the sign-up process.

Open enrollment is often overwhelming for employers and employees alike. If employees don’t have the information they need going into open enrollment, they won’t be able to make an informed decision. Provide education leading up to open enrollment to prepare employees to shop for benefits effectively.

Set Your Gen Z Employees Up for Success

Gen Z is the newest part of the workforce. As an employer, it’s crucial to educate this generation about their benefits to help them make sound decisions that affect their health and well-being.