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7 ways to update your sponsored retirement plan for Gen Z

There’s a pocket of retirement plan participants who save a lot in their employer-sponsored retirement account. Meet the super savers—during the past year this Gen Z force (ages 19-24) saved a minimum of $17,550 or deferred 15% or more of their salary.1

Super savers: Everywhere and anyone

Super savers come in all ages and income levels. Our research shows that 57% are age 40 or younger and 51% make less than $100K annually. Nearly 50% of the Gen Z super savers have an annual salary of less than $35K, with deferral rates of 15%+.

So super saving isn’t so much about income—but habits and lifestyle. Highly influenced by their parents and their upbringing, they understand that making long-term decisions or sacrifices now equates to the retirement they envision in the future.

Your employer-sponsored retirement plan plays a strong role

In fact, it can be the “nudge” for many to start saving for retirement: 64% of super savers started saving when they were first eligible for an employer plan. Of the Gen Z super savers, 49% said they started saving for retirement with their first job. Just the presence of a retirement account gave them the confidence to start putting away for that long-range goal.

In addition to their 401(k) or 403(b), super savers save through other accounts: 43% have a Roth IRA, 41% a heath savings account (HSA), and 23% a traditional IRA. We noticed that 17% of Gen Z participants were trying out non-traditional investments—meme stocks and cryptocurrency among them.

7 plan design updates to help more Gen Z employees become retirement super savers

A few simple updates can help modernize your employer-sponsored retirement plan in preparation for the new generation of workers:

  1. Provide immediate eligibility and vesting.
  2. Start, increase, or stretch an employer match to incentivize participants to increase their contributions.
  3. Implement automated plan design features (automatic: enrollment, increase, and sweep).
  4. Provide more education around other retirement savings options such as an IRA, Roth IRA, has, and guaranteed lifetime income products.
  5. Offer more investment options within the sponsored retirement plan, such as managed accounts.
  6. Establish financial wellness programs that include building emergency savings and providing education on investments.
  7. Provide access to a financial professional and online financial resources to help manage their savings goals.

Retirement super saver research highlights

You can dig deeper into super saver motivations, sacrifices, and splurges in the research.

You’ll also find this infographic handy to identify what you can do now and how your organization’s retirement plan can help create more super savers or help participants save more in general. View the infographic (PDF).


  • Contact your Principal® representative for additional details or discuss ways you might help your participants think about becoming super savers.

1 The 2021 Principal® Super Saver Survey was sent to Gen Z, Gen X, and Gen Y participants who work for companies that have Principal as the recordkeeper for their retirement accounts and have either saved 90% of the 2020 IRS max allowed under a retirement plan or deferred 15% or more of their salary to a retirement account. The survey was conducted July 5–12, 2021.

Guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

The subject matter in this communication is educational only and provided with the understanding that Principal® is not rendering legal, accounting, investment advice or tax advice. You should consult with appropriate counsel or other advisors on all matters pertaining to legal, tax, investment or accounting obligations and requirements.

Principal® does not make available products related to health savings accounts.

Insurance products and plan administrative services provided through Principal Life Insurance Co., a member of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, Iowa 50392.