Financial literacy is more than a buzzword for Gen Z workers. It’s something they’re striving for as they look to the future, but without the help of their employer, they may feel stalled.
Sixty-five percent of Gen Z workers believe that employers should now be responsible for helping their workers achieve higher levels of financial wellness and literacy, according to a new study by financial services provider Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.
“Employers have traditionally focused a lot of education around retirement and 401(k) plans,” says Marthin De Beer, founder and CEO of BrightPlan, a financial wellness platform. “And that’s great, but retirement may be decades away for most employees. So what about now? What about everything between now and retirement? That’s where employers have really not done much at all.”
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The time for change is now, De Beer says. Gen Z may currently have the lowest financial literacy rates — answering only 43% of personal finance questions correctly compared to 49% and 48% of Gen X and millennial respondents respectively — but they also have the most interest in learning, and 75% of employees in BrightPlan’s survey indicated that they trust their employer more than anyone else as a source to achieve that financial literacy.
“Employees are not inherently motivated to learn about finances — a lot of people only find it truly important when there’s a need,” De Beer says. “As you mature and experience different things in life, it’s in those moments that matter where the employer needs to have the right benefit available to their employees, so they can learn in context of that challenge and then take action.”
“Taking action” can be as simple as discussing current financial goals with employees to more hands-on approaches like leveraging technology to create a benefit that delivers education, goals-based planning, investing and day-to-day many money management to employees, all on a single app.
The financial needs of a 22-year old employee may be drastically different from the needs of middle-aged employees, or those approaching life events like childbirth or retirement, but they are no less urgent. That’s why, De Beer says, the days of generic financial education are numbered.
“The biggest investment an employer makes in any given year is their employees,” De Beer says. “[Employers] can have a bigger impact on people’s lives than anything else, if you can integrate education and literacy with their life experiences and deliver them in the moments that matter, that’s when people become motivated to learn.”