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Shaping a brighter world of work: The case for a new social contract

Read the latest Zurich-Oxford report for global insights on a multi-stakeholder approach to the challenge of workforce protection in a post-COVID world. The report outlines emerging thinking on a new social contract to help shape a brighter world of work.


Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforces were already facing challenges with strained social protection systems, the demand for new skills and shifting employment relationships.

The onset of COVID-19 in early 2020 produced a set of economic challenges on a scale not seen in decades. As economies shut down in an effort to contain the virus, millions of workers were unable to return to their jobs – some temporarily, some permanently. Entire industries and sectors have been affected. While not all were adversely impacted and many will eventually recover, the pandemic has accelerated many of the structural changes already taking place in the economy. In the months and years ahead, workers will need to adapt and respond to unprecedented challenges, while also taking advantage of new opportunities.

COVID-19 distributes risk across entire populations and has exposed significant shortcomings in some countries’ public health and welfare systems. The question of what kinds of institutions can work together to insure against systemic risk and whole population vulnerability has taken on new urgency. And when it comes to insurance, we need to think not just in terms of products or the industry that provides them. Rather, we need flexible institutional structures for the new world of work that are resilient to future shocks.

While an ideal world of work may seem like an unattainable utopia, many elements of it may indeed be within reach. It will require a strong awareness and understanding of the issues, a global review of the risks and challenges, and finally the collaboration and agility of key actors and consortiums to put the call for a new social contract high on their agendas.

This is why Zurich Insurance Group and the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford are executing an in-depth analysis and publishing this report, which outlines emerging thinking on a new social contract, recommending areas for further investigation and action to key stakeholder groups: governments, employers, and the insurance industry as well as households.

Find out more about these emerging global societal risk trends in the latest Zurich-Oxford report HERE Shaping a brighter world of work: The case for a new social contract.

Read more HERE in Shaping a brighter world of work: The employer outlook report, where we ask what role employers can play in helping workers navigate these challenges while also adapting to ongoing changes in the world of work, including the speed of technological change and flexible work arrangements.

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Learn more on the Zurich Knowledge Hub

Shaping a brighter world of work: The employer outlook report (PDF)

Shaping a brighter world of work: The case for a new social contract report (PDF)