Employers must act now to support talent with financial wellbeing and protection to remain competitive

  • Zurich study that integrates two surveys on employee benefits in the UAE reveals greater need for employers to safeguard employees’ financial future
  • Data shows that almost half of employees have no income protection and only 4 in 10 have life cover provided by their employer 
  • With more than half of the respondents changing employers in the last two years, the survey highlights the increasing importance of employee benefits to ensuring talent attraction and retention 

Dubai, UAE: Zurich International Life (Zurich), part of Zurich Insurance Group, together with YouGov have released the results of newly conducted research exploring policies and practices regarding employee benefits in the UAE. The two surveys on ‘Workplace Savings’ and ‘Group Life Cover’, in which over 200 employers and 500 employees were interviewed in each survey, provide valuable insights into the need for UAE based employers to place a greater emphasis on protecting the future financial health of employees to help attract and retain talent, factors vital to the future growth and sustainable uccess of the UAE.

Earlier this month, the UAE government announced several employee-focused reforms that support talent attraction and retention including anti-discrimination protection and new work models such as flexible hours, part-time work and supplementary leaves, among others. The new reforms serve the UAE’s vision to become the go-to destination for individuals to live and work. 

Among its many insightful findings, the survey revealed the lack of protection in place to protect employees and their families in the case of a severe medical condition, partial disability, permanent disability or death. In total, almost half of employees claimed they had no income protection provided by their employer, meaning if they were unable to work due to illness, they would go without pay. The survey has shown that only four out of 10 employees claimed to have life cover in place. This means that 60 per cent of employees are not provided with life cover by their employer, meaning that in the case of their death, their families would not be provided for.

The survey further revealed that only a little over half of employers had a separate fund for end-of-service benefits in place. While these employers had created a separate fund for end-of-service benefits, 8 out of 10 employers in this group had dipped into these funds when struggling to make salary payments. 6 out of 10 employees reported concerns over whether their salaries would be paid out on time, further emphasizing the importance of managing end-of-service benefit funds separately.  

The study identified the talent pool is quite dynamic and had access to several work opportunities with more than 50 percent of the surveyed employees have shifted jobs in the past two years. This emphasizes that employers need to invest more in their own employees to retain them and become an employer of choice. 

Regarding life insurance, a third of respondents stated the topic had come up in negotiations on benefits with prospective employees. When it comes to communicating insurance benefits to employees, only around a quarter of employers send out an annual reminder on life insurance to their employees, demonstrating a lack of communication around benefits and an opportunity for organizations and businesses to show their commitment to protecting their employees. In the case of pension contributions, the survey showed that very few employers provide it as an employee benefit, suggesting that employers need to do more to protect their employees’ financial future. In terms of financial education, almost 6 out of 10 employers stated that they plan to provide financial wellness support to their employees. 

Speaking on the findings of the results, Swarnaleka Vyas, Head of Corporate Life and Pensions at Zurich International Life Middle East said, “Workforce sustainability is essential to the future growth of the UAE. We have seen a growing number of initiatives from the federal level to attract top talent from around the world to deliver their vision for the future and contribute to the economy. As part of the government’s vision to become a world-class hub to attract talents from different parts of the world, the new labour law provides greater flexibility for employees and employers. As an increasing number of expats are laying down roots in the UAE and planning for their financial future, flexible employee benefits will remain points of differentiation and increasingly important bargaining chips in the negotiations between employers and employees.”

Sajeev Nair, Senior Executive Officer at Zurich Workplace Solutions, said: “To complement the governments’ efforts to make the UAE a world-class talent destination, employers must act now in implementing a full range of flexible employee benefits as core to their talent strategy to remain competitive. Employee financial health, end-of-service benefits and protection are foundational elements, complemented by focused efforts towards employee physical, mental and digital well-being. Most importantly, communicating benefits is beyond critical. The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ is a wake-up call to put employees at the core of the workplace. Lest we forget, despite advances in technology and AI, humans are and will be at the heart of the future of work.”

The two surveys were conducted by YouGov at the end of 2021 – ‘Workplace Savings’ and ‘Group Life Cover,’ the former consisting of six questions, the latter nine. In total, 203 employers and 502 employees participated totalling 705 respondents. Participants were aged 18 and above.

Highlights from study

    • 47% of the employers stated that they do not have a separate fund for end-of-service benefits, 
    • 61% of employees reported concerns about whether or not their salaries will be paid out on time. 
    • Only 37% claim that their current company has a provision to protect their family or loved ones though life insurance cover in case of their unexpected death. 
    • 48% claim that their company does not provide income protection cover and 19% are not sure if they are even covered if they are unable to return to work for more than two months due to a medical condition, partial disability or permanent disability.
    • When respondents were asked about how they sought to generate employee awareness about their life insurance covers, most claimed that it is part of the employment contract (56%) followed by reporting it as part of the induction manual (48%). 
    • 59% of employers plan to provide financial wellness support to their employees, signalling an interest to protect the financial future of their employees
  • Only 33% claim that the subject of life insurance cover has come up in discussions/negotiation with employers on benefits package.

About Zurich Insurance Group:

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 56,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty and life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN) is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) programme which is traded over the counter on OTCQX.

About Zurich International Life Limited:

Zurich International Life Limited is a part of Zurich Insurance Group and established in the Isle of Man, which is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority with established and registered branches in the UAE licensed by the Central Bank of the UAE, Bahrain licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Qatar Financial Centre authorised by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority. In the UAE, it is registered (Registration No. 63) under UAE Federal Law Number 6 of 2007, and its activities in the UAE are governed by such law. 

About Zurich Workplace Solutions:

Zurich Workplace Solutions (Middle East) Limited (ZWS), part of the Zurich Insurance Group entities operating within the Middle East, is a DIFC-based company. As an administrator of the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings (DEWS) scheme, ZWS provides support to employers and employees through the administration and management of the DEWS plan. This includes enrolment of employers and employees, management of contributions, onboarding new joiners and supporting leavers, enablement of the investment process and administering withdrawals. ZWS also provides an online portal and member app wherein employers and employees have real-time access to plan information, as well as assistance and guidance through a DIFC-based support team and contact centre.