There is much that can be done to support workers in the digital transformation process, both on a financial security and mental well-being level. EFR members are committed to do their part as employers of around 2.12 million people worldwide. Also, as providers of (retirement) saving and income protection products, they are striving to make their services fit for purpose for the changing environment.
However, action is also needed on the policy side to prepare society for this new era and ensure the legal environment and public policies in a larger sense (such as education and health systems) are also fit for purpose. Those needs are even reinforced by the Covid-19 crisis as transformation is likely to accelerate. With this paper, EFR wishes to contribute to the EU debate on the impact of digital transformation on labour and related workforce protection. In this light it recommends the following policy actions:
- Skills identification: encourage employers to identify the critical skills pivotal for transformation and enable reskilling of the current workforce to close any gaps within the aspired skillset, to create the conditions for people re-deployment across the organizations from the areas impacted by the automation to the emerging jobs (internal marketplaces).
- Digital skills: ensure that education programs sufficiently and timely incorporate new skills development, both in the technical and managerial sphere, and enable life-long learning for current workers;
- Mental health: increase societal awareness of mental health issues and promote prevention programs on all levels of society, including employer-based resilience programmes for employees and line manager mental health upskilling;
- Income Protection: increase attention given to and measures in the area of financial education in the area of income protection and pensions and incentivize financial products that are flexible to adjust to the digital transformation process, including atypical employment forms and career breaks.
Realising that competence in the addressed policy areas lies primarily with the Member States, we suggest considering the following policy measures on EU level to support the respective policy agendas of Member states:
- Awareness raising: increase awareness of the challenges related to digital transformation of the workforce, and solutions to address them, both on a private and public level with EU citizens, companies and national policy makers;
- Best practice exchange: facilitate the exchange of policy and company best practices to address abovementioned challenges amongst Member states;
- Sustainability Principles: enable and incentivize companies to incorporate sustainability principles and be transparent about this, in this context mainly in the ‘S’ (social) area of ESG, including, for instance, sustainable work policies, possibly through EU regulation in the area of non-financial reporting;
- Link to EU co-funding: EU co-funded Member States’ initiatives in the areas of employment, (mental) health and education should integrate measures to address the challenges caused by digital transformation.