May 28, 2024

Zurich International Life offers Gulf expats 360-degree holistic financial solutions

Employers urged to prioritise employee well-being and create positive work cultures

Zurich International Life offers expats in the UAE and Saudi Arabia a comprehensive retirement planning solution. Beyond retirement planning, the company also addresses savings, education, life insurance, and critical illness coverage.

In this interview, Swarnaleka Shetty Vyas, Head of Sales & Distribution, Corporate Life & Pensions, Zurich International Life, elaborates on how the company focuses on employee preferences, career advancement, remuneration, benefits, and recognition to create a dynamic work environment in the GCC region, fostering a positive workplace culture.

Excerpts from the interview:

Why should expats in the UAE and Saudi Arabia rely on Zurich International Life for their retirement planning?

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when it comes to financial planning, starting with one’s current situation and financial goals. This is why it is important to consult an adviser who understands one’s needs, no matter where one is, on one’s financial journey.

Through the Zurich Advisory Network (ZAN), we are able to offer customers unbiased advice – based on the expertise of our advisers and our proprietary digital advice tool, which utilises data analytics to help customers simulate ideal future scenarios, enabling them to make educated financial decisions.

It is important, for expats to seek holistic financial advice, with retirement planning being one key aspect to consider, along with savings, for example, for children’s education as well as life insurance and critical illness coverage.

Swarnaleka Shetty Vyas, Head of Sales & Distribution, Corporate Life & Pensions. Image: Zurich International Life

How is Zurich International Life/Zurich Workplace Solutions reducing costs for employers in the GCC region while also delivering enhanced efficiencies in terms of HR?

End-of-service benefits schemes such as the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings scheme, which is administrated by Zurich Workplace Solutions, offer a range of benefits for both employers and employees in the UAE.

Based on a defined contribution model, rather than the traditional defined benefit model, these schemes provide employers with enhanced certainty of their liabilities and enable them to manage their cash flow better and more efficiently, through regular monthly outgoings towards end-of-service benefits.

Benefits for employees include increased transparency and flexibility and the opportunity to save for their future with a range of investment options to choose from, including risk-rated funds. With this, we remove the administrative burden which currently falls on a company’s HR team, streamlining processes and offering support throughout the journey.

Why is there a talent shortage in specific sectors in the UAE and Saudi Arabia?

There is a gap in essential skill sets required for key positions which is driven by the rapid evolution of industries and the introduction of new technologies.

The emergence of AI and its potential to supplant specific job roles or tasks adds complexity to this challenge. Following the post-pandemic growth in the tourism, hospitality, and travel industries, a considerable demand was created for skilled professionals within these sectors, and this scenario has outpaced the available talent pool.

While both the UAE and Saudi Arabia are shielded from global challenges, they still face persistent talent shortages due to various economic and regulatory factors.

Simultaneously, talent is actively seeking new opportunities, driven by evolving job market dynamics and a desire for improved employee benefits and career advancement. So, the evolving regulatory reforms, a diversified talent pool, and a growing emphasis on upskilling local talent underscore the need for flexible and tailored employee benefits packages.

To address this talent shortage, employers must prioritise employee well-being and create positive work cultures, establishing themselves as employers of choice in these competitive job markets.

What parameters does Zurich International Life rely on to determine a dynamic work environment in the GCC region?

Employee preferences are a primary factor, reflecting a shift from traditional motivations. In the UAE, employees lean towards organisations offering clear career advancement plans and flexible work arrangements, with 42% citing the importance of flexible work arrangements.

Another significant parameter is understanding the reasons behind job transitions, such as improved remuneration, enriched employee benefits packages, and professional advancement opportunities, which provide insights into the dynamics of the job market.

Recognition and reward for employee achievements play a crucial role in fostering a positive workplace environment, with 59% of UAE employees citing this to have the most impact on promoting a positive workplace culture. These practices boost employee morale and emphasise their worth and the company’s commitment to their well-being.

Lastly, given how diverse the UAE is, employers must encourage different perspectives to spark innovation and create a strong sense of belonging among their employees.

Featured image: Retirement planning should be a key aspect for Gulf expats. Image: Ricardo Moura

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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