The study argues that no single stakeholder can shoulder the impact of these changes alone. The long-term health of societies depends on the sharing of responsibility among individuals, employers, benefit providers and governments.
Alison Martin, Zurich's CEO Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Bank Distribution, commented:
"Having a workforce that is protected, well-trained and agile is paramount for a healthy economy and everyone needs to play their part. At Zurich, our commitment to employees includes prioritizing internal hiring, keeping as many jobs as possible in-house as opposed to outsourcing, and training and development to build the skills our people need for the future."
Key findings of the report include:
- A growing need for adequate protection: The pandemic highlighted the importance of strengthening protection for atypical workers such as freelancers, gig workers or part-time workers, many of whom have lost work and fall between the cracks of existing and emergency social safety nets.
- Millennials and Gen Z will likely become more risk-averse: Before COVID-19, younger generations were twice as likely as older workers to choose freelancing as a career path. The trend may now reverse with younger workers seeking job security, which might imply rethinking self-employment and their part in the gig economy.
- Higher pressure to adapt to technological change as digitalization accelerates: With COVID-19 boosting digitalization, including the use of AI and automation, the need for reskilling has increased. However, the global survey showed a mismatch between an individual's self-perceived personal level of risk and their willingness to take steps to address it. Governments and employers alike could play a role in informing workers about the risks to their jobs and the opportunities available.
- New forms of public-private partnerships help ease pressure on governments: The adoption of compulsory unemployment insurance - as well as insurance for health, disability, and income protection, along with protection for dependents - can provide security and allow people to reskill and adapt to a changing world of work.
- Redistribution and increased flexibility are necessary features of protection beyond COVID-19: Compulsory health insurance schemes ought to have embedded within them a redistributive capacity as a means of reducing inequality, such as between higher and lower income earners as well as between different worker generations. The rise of a new world of big data also calls for protection that is designed with greater inbuilt flexibility and continuity across career choices, which includes a more flexible uptake, payment for, and switching between and within insurance products.