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Posted February 21, 2019

How to Talk to Gen Z About Their Healthcare Benefits


Early this year we launched a series of blog posts exploring the unique healthcare needs of each generation and what resonates with them when it comes to healthcare marketing and decision-making. Whether you’re an HR professional, a third-party benefits administrator or an employer, our hope is to leave you better prepared to engage each generation with their healthcare benefits. We’ve covered Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. Up next: the newest member of the workforce, Gen Z.


Generation Z: A generational profile

Gen Z is comprised of those born between 1997 and 2012. While this generation represents a quarter of the U.S. population, not many of them have graduated college or entered the workforce just yet (the oldest among them will turn 22 in 2019, with most still in their teens or younger).

The generation only recently acquired the name “Generation Z.” Pew Research Center also tried on the names “iGeneration” and “Homelanders” for size, before ultimately declaring that Gen Z was the apparent frontrunner, seeing as how Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Urban Dictionary and even Google Trends data had settled on Gen Z as the cohort’s rightful name.

So why are we talking about teenagers in the context of the workplace? Because now is a great time to get prepared for Gen Z before they enter the workforce, to anticipate how they are different from their Millennial predecessors as well as from their Gen X parents—and to determine what tools and initiatives might best serve their interests. Their impact on the healthcare industry—and on every industry—will be enormous.

The most ethnically diverse generation to date (49 percent of Gen Zers identify as non-white, compared to 44 percent of Millennials), they are also on track to be the most well-educated and the most digitally ensconced. A whopping 80 percent of Gen Zers feel distress when kept away from their personal electronic devices; 98 percent own a smartphone, and 92 percent have a digital footprint.

When it comes to their political and social opinions, this generation thus far appears markedly in line with Millennials. However, they have also been called the “anti-Millennials” because they eschew consumerism and are thus far more economical. A few years ago, Fast Company called this generation “frugal, brand-wary and determined” and “prepared to fight hard to create a stable future for themselves.” In other words, look for members of this generation to temper their youthful optimism with more pragmatism than Millennials.


Tips for engaging Gen Z with their healthcare benefits


Connect them to a real-life healthcare mentor: Even for this generation of digital natives, there’s really no replacement for a human to bounce questions and concerns off of. In one survey, Gen Zers noted that healthcare benefits were the most important benefit to them, closely followed by a mentorship program (33 percent). Plan to check both off your list by pairing your Gen Z employee with a mentor to walk them through the available plans. 

Appeal to their frugality: Fifty-one percent of those ages 18 to 22, and 43 percent of those ages 16 to 17, are extremely concerned or very concerned about not achieving their financial goals, per Lincoln Financial Group. As The Inquisitr writes, “Generation Z, the children of the Great Recession, are echoing the frugality of the children of the Great Depression beginning in 1929. The Millennials, however, can remember partying like it was 1999, just like those who came of age before the great depression remembered the roaring ’20s.” Take the opportunity to educate Gen Z about the benefits of starting to save for retirement early on. They’ll likely be receptive.

Be selective about social channel outreach: Not long ago, Facebook dominated the social media landscape, but this is less true for this younger generation. About half of Gen Z is on Facebook, with far more of them reporting that they use Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram (in that order of preference) to interact with friends and brands. Consider ways you can incorporate these social channels into your healthcare benefits communications.

Start a conversation: “Open dialogues are essential to reaching Gen Z, and brands that can create two-way conversations through an authentic digital and social presence, complemented by great in-real-life experiences, will engage more Gen Zers, win their allegiance, and (bonus!) create brand advocates,” reports Criteo. The best communications strategies for younger workers will be multichannel and encourage back-and-forth engagement.

Remember that video content rules: Seventy percent of Gen Zers watch more than two hours of YouTube every day—and often for educational purposes. Millennials see value in YouTube as well, but they are more likely than Gen Z to prefer traditional textbooks to supplement their learning. For Gen Z, YouTube is the No. 1 preferred learning method. How can you use video content to communicate benefits information to this generation?

Opt for emojis, gifs and photos over email: As another testament to this generation’s preference for visual and video mediums, according to Fast Company, “Email is an outmoded method of communication reserved for school assignments and not much else. My youngest employees treat email the way that I looked at the fax machine when I got my first real job: a relic from a bygone era, and an absolute last resort if efficient communication is the goal.” Look for ways to communicate with your young workers through these mediums, rather than through an email campaign that will likely fall on deaf Gen-Z ears.


Be sure to read our blog posts on Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. And for more insights about how to ease workers’ concerns about the rising cost of healthcare, download our WEX Health 2018 Clear Insights Report.

WEX Health

WEX Health

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