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Bank Accounts, Benefits and More: One-on-One with the Class of 2019

Bank Accounts, Benefits and More: One-on-One with the Class of 2019
Posted on Monday, June 17, 2019 by Rae Shanahan

We hear a lot of misconceptions about Gen Z, the youngest generation in our workforce today—that they’re tech-obsessed and expect participation trophies, for example.

how-recent-graduates-feel-about-benefitsBut what is Gen Z really like as employees, and what do they think about the world of work?

Gen Z is graduating college and entering the workforce in larger numbers, so it’s time for employers to understand what this cohort values in a job and an organization. We asked a new graduate about his expectations and experiences in his first post-collegiate job. What we found may surprise you based on what you thought you knew about Gen Z. (Responses edited for length and clarity.)

Rae Shanahan: What school did you attend and what was your major?

Andrew C: I recently graduated from Colorado State University with a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Information Science and Technology.

RS: What kind of work are you doing at your new job?

AC: I’m currently an Account Executive for a global service-based systems integration company. My position specializes in security systems and at the moment, I am involved in a rigorous training program at a large-scale construction site, learning the installation and integration process of a complex security system.

RS: Before you graduated and were considering career prospects, what was the most important thing on your mind as you envisioned entering the workforce? 

AC: I wanted to be involved in a project-based environment, where the workflow of the job is constantly evolving, and encouraging me to stimulate my own growth. After finishing two internships and graduating college, I knew I needed an invigorating work environment and a career that would challenge me and push me to grow.

RS: What things were you looking for in a company?

AC: First, I would ask about a company’s demographics. Based on the level of diversity, I felt as though I could piece together the culture of the company, as well as my own compatibility within it. Another factor I would seek to find out was the environmental initiatives the company was taking. Working to protect our environment is incredibly important to me, and I had hoped to find a company with similar values. One final question I would ask the interviewer was how long someone usually stays with the company. With this information I could gauge how comfortable and happy the average employee was with the company and their job.

RS: What are you most excited about in transitioning from school to a career? 

AC: I am most excited about confidently filling my car with gas without worrying that I’m emptying my bank account. 

RS: Do you have any short- or long-term goals when it comes to your personal finances? Things like saving up for a big purchase, travel, rainy day fund, etc.?

AC: I am so excited to start putting money away for several different things. First, it was very important to me to set up my retirement fund right away. A retirement fund is something I have understood from a young age as being critical to success later in life. I then hope to create a savings fund in case of an emergency or unforeseen accident where having finances available would help relieve stress. Finally, I am most excited about exploring my love for cars and being able to make a large down payment on a car that would put a smile on my face every morning on my commute to work.

RS: When you started your new job, how did the process go with HR when signing up for your benefits? Was it easy to understand or did it mostly feel like a foreign language?

AC: When going through my benefits package, I sat down with my parents to understand all of the options that would best fit my needs. I was glad to have my parents there to explain each option and its relevance to me, because there were several instances where I didn’t understand them. After having thorough explanations from my parents, I think I have a better (although not perfect) understanding of the costs associated with my benefits. It is a goal of mine, however, to be able to completely understand them in the future.

RS: Where do you see yourself five years from now? 

AC: Five years from now, I hope to have an invigorating career, be student-loan debt free, and be happy with my professional and personal life. A stable work-life balance is important to me, and I hope to be able to create that for myself with the career I have started now. I hope to stay with the same company for at least five years, and to have paid off my student loans in that time as well.

RS: Do you like the idea of sticking with the same company?

AC: Staying with the same company for five or more years is an ideal scenario for me.

RS: What would keep you there? Or, what kinds of opportunities elsewhere would incentivize you to change jobs?

AC: Higher pay, alternative scheduling, or additional benefits are all incentives or opportunities that would encourage me to change jobs. 

RS: What did you wish older generations knew about the lives of recent graduates?

AC: I would like for older generations to realize that most graduates do not have enough guidance when searching for a career. While most universities offer a career center where students can learn about how to search for a career and apply for a job, most students are not aware of them or do not take advantage of these opportunities. 

RS: How is your job so far? Is it what you expected? If not, what’s different in your mind?

AC: I have been both overwhelmed and excited about becoming a full-time member of my company. I think in terms of what I expected the job to be like, I could not have imagined the amount of training I would go through. It is an incredible amount of training, and I feel confident in my ability to understand my responsibilities and be able to build better goals for myself. I love my job so far, and I’m excited for what it has in store for me in the future.

What can we learn from Andrew and other graduates like him? Here are a few of the key takeaways for employers:

  • Gen Z cares about social issues, such as diversity & inclusion at a potential employer and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts being made by companies recruiting them. Having a diverse workforce and robust CSR initiatives are crucial for attracting young employees.
  • Gen Z understands the importance of saving money, including the need to start retirement savings early, and they want to tackle student loan debt as soon as possible.
  • These employees see the importance of benefits, but Gen Z needs benefits education to understand both the concepts of insurance and coverage, and the costs. Employers have an opportunity to make a difference with helpful communication and total rewards solutions.
  • Gen Z values flexibility and balance in their lives, but they’re not perennial job-hoppers. With the right work-life balance and opportunities for growth, they can be very loyal.

As the workforce continues to change and diversify, employers must keep up with benefits that speak to a multigenerational workforce. Check out our guide that gives you seven tips to finding a solution that meets your employees’ needs.