Surprise! Gen Z’s Financial Goals Align Well With Traditional Benefits

New research from The Standard shows a disconnect between what employee benefits Gen Zers say they want and what HR leaders think Gen Zers want — with the happy accident that Gen Z’s goals and values generally align with many of the benefits typically offered by employers.

In Learning to Speak Gen Z, The Standard continues its exploration of Gen Z and employee benefits. While the carrier has conducted research exclusively on Gen Z’s view of benefits, The Standard’s latest study looks at HR leaders’ perception of what Gen Z wants from employers and their benefits programs.

Key findings from the research:

  • Many HR decision-makers underestimate the value Gen Z places on retirement plans and paid family and medical leave as well as life, supplemental, dental and disability insurance. For example, only 12% of HR leaders say Gen Z ranks life insurance as “extremely valuable,” but 53% of Gen Zers characterize it that way.
  • Gen Z and HR leaders agree medical insurance is Gen Z’s most valued benefit. After that, there’s less alignment. Gen Zers indicate their second and third most valued benefits are paid family and medical leave and retirement savings plans. But HR decision-makers say Gen Z ranks flextime, remote work and student loan repayment as No. 2 and No. 3 (with remote work and student loan repayment tying for third).
  • Earning and saving are more important to Gen Z than HR leaders believe, while paying off debt is less important to this age group than HR decision-makers say it is. 57% of HR leaders indicate saving is a financial goal for Gen Z. That’s in contrast to 79% of Gen Zers who say the same. And, while 59% of HR leaders think paying off debt is a goal for Gen Z, only 37% of Gen Zers agree.

Melissa Oliver-Janiak, second vice president of Total Rewards in Human Resources at The Standard, said, “Gen Z’s focus on strengthening finances and preparing for the future is encouraging and an area where employers and employees can partner. It’s a matter of ensuring we’re communicating about benefits in ways all age groups understand. That can mean targeting specific messages to different cohorts.”

Enhancing benefits to meet the needs of today’s workers remains a priority. But the research shows employers can avoid costly benefits overhauls by meeting Gen Zers where they are. That includes offering more effective messaging on existing benefits and using financial literacy as a low-cost way to partner with benefits providers.

For more insights on this topic, visit Solid Benefits, Mentoring and Messages: A recipe for attracting and retaining Gen Z.

Gen Z survey

On behalf of The Standard, a third-party research firm conducted a 20-minute survey of 1,250 Gen Z full-time workers (or soon-to-be workers). Survey participants were:

  • Ages 18 to 26
  • Employed full-time, in their final year of college, expecting to be employed full-time post-graduation or in graduate school

The study includes oversamples of Black (n=273) and Hispanic (n=271) Gen Z members weighted to correct proportions in overall data.

The survey was offered in English or Spanish.

Field dates: Aug. 7 – 24, 2023

Survey of HR decision-makers

On behalf of The Standard, the same third-party research firm conducted a parallel 20-minute survey of 500 HR decision-makers focused on Gen Z workers.

Sampling was stratified to ensure full representation of all company sizes.

Data were weighted by company size to reflect the full estimated population of HR decision-makers based on the most recent data available from the Statistics of U.S. Businesses provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and the most recent SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Survey.

Field dates: Sept. 5 – Oct. 3, 2023

About The Standard

The Standard is a family of companies dedicated to helping customers achieve financial well-being and peace of mind. In business since 1906, we are a leading provider of financial protection products and services for employers and individuals. Our products include group and individual disability insurance, group life, dental and vision insurance, voluntary (employee-paid) benefits, paid family leave and absence management services, and retirement plans and annuities for employers and individuals. For more information about The Standard, visit or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

The Standard is the marketing name for StanCorp Financial Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries: Standard Insurance Company, The Standard Life Insurance Company of New York, Standard Retirement Services, Inc., StanCorp Mortgage Investors, Inc., StanCorp Investment Advisers, Inc., StanCorp Real Estate, LLC, and StanCorp Equities, Inc.


Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.