Australians face the new world of work more positively than global peers, according to a landmark global study by Zurich Insurance Group.
While technology has made work more flexible – creating more opportunities for self-employment and gig work, as well increased mobility between jobs, industries, and locations – it has also exposed workers to more gaps in job and income security, leaving insurers and governments with significant challenges when adapting to the changes, Zurich noted.
The study, conducted in collaboration with the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford, examined the concerns of vulnerable groups in relation to the changing work environment, including the perceived impact of technology on their jobs, their financial anxieties, and their knowledge and understanding of insurance protections. It polled 17,000 working-age respondents in 15 economies, including more than 1,000 Australians.
Findings showed that compared to global peers, Australians are amongst the least concerned that they will lose their jobs to technology, are amongst the most likely to become a freelance or self-employed worker in the near future, are relatively better savers, and are more likely to have life insurance protection in place.
“People of all ages are clearly worried about how to maintain their living standards when they retire,” said Tim Bailey, CEO of Zurich’s Australian life and investments business. “Whether you are 20 or 50, getting your retirement savings right is paramount. Coming at a time when the way we work is rapidly changing, the study is a valuable contribution to the broader debate about jobs and financial security and the policies that can help us respond effectively.”
The study also highlighted the often-forgotten role of life insurance in optimising retirement savings.
“The policy basis for life insurance being such an important part of the superannuation system is the role it plays in mitigating any interruption to a person’ income stream – and ability to save – because of illness or injury,” Bailey said. “That basis is as relevant today as it was in 1992 when the superannuation system was created.”