6 October 2021
Covid has reshaped our habits and even the country’s businesses have also adapted their working methods and corporate welfare activities to new needs and new perspectives on life. This change of direction has been observed at both national and European level (Green Paper on Demographic Ageing) with social welfare initiatives looking at the Silver Economy, the Gender Gap and Women Empowerment with a new awareness so as to create value, not only internally, but also and above all towards the community and stakeholders.
ROLE OF SMEs
According to recent studies, SMEs played a supportive, helpful social role during the harshest phase of the pandemic. In the light of the ongoing economic recovery in Italy, their role is decisive for the country’s recovery, thanks to the welfare strategies they have made available to young people, women, the elderly, families and urban communities generally, and because they support the guidelines of the NRP through their policies.
The studies conducted (Generali Welfare Index) highlight that, in order to deal with the pandemic, companies implemented numerous corporate welfare initiatives that supported workers. SMEs acted in health (medical services and new health insurance), work-life balance (more flexible hours and help for the family), support for workers and families and children’s schooling and the National Health System and research, through contributions and donations.
SMEs have therefore taken on the role of a social partner, not only of an economic nature, but also promoting general welfare in their contact with their communities and their close relationships to workers and their families.
The consulting initiative promoted by the EU aims to stimulate a public debate on the effects of ageing populations in European society in order to record the issues involved and take advantage of the right opportunities.
The demographic structure of the EU has changed dramatically in recent years and this trend will continue to show its effects in the future. To accompany the changes taking place, the Community and national institutions will have to equip themselves with new social and economic instruments to manage and support the ageing of the population which, according to European estimates, will see the average age reach 49 years – five years more than the current figures – by 2070.
Ageing therefore has an impact both on economic society and on the creation of new opportunities for employment and the promotion of social equity. It is precisely this dual direction that the EU analyses by looking at ageing throughout a person’s life cycle. With this aim in mind, there is no doubt that we need to rethink this process in a progressive way, seeking a virtuous compromise between the sustainability of welfare systems (pensions, health and assistance) and intergenerational solidarity between young and old.
The Tendercapital-Censis Silver Economy Observatory presented last June focuses on the active longevity of the elderly during the most critical phase of the pandemic and the picture that emerged showed how those over 65 are ready to play leading roles in Italy’s society and economy.
In the relationship of “intergenerational solidarity between young and old”, as highlighted by the European Green Paper, what emerges clearly from the Censis Report is the generational fracture that the lockdown has made manifest. For 54.3% of young people, in fact, too many public resources are spent on the elderly, compared to 35% last year, while for 74.1% there are too many elderly people in positions of power, from the economy, society, including the media.
The Report, however, also shows how the Silver Generation has been decisive in sustaining the family economically, so much so that the Observatory underlines the role of the elderly, defined as “cash dispensers for children and grandchildren”, and also highlights how they are the segment of society that has responded best to Covid restrictions. Among other things, the Silver Generation wants to invest in Italy’s recovery by stimulating domestic demand and injecting liquidity into the system for their own well-being and their lives. They want, therefore, to be active players in the future of the country and contribute to its growth. It is therefore indispensable that national and European economic policies look at seniors as an active resource, to be involved and stimulated in the decision-making processes for the growth of the new social welfare.