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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Opinions - What to know about ‘Career Cushioning’ The New Workplace Trend Shaping The Job Market

CEO Opinions

What to know about ‘Career Cushioning’ The New Workplace Trend Shaping The Job Market

In the aftermath of the pandemic, workplace trends from the Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting have seen employees leave their jobs in droves, or simply “acting their wage” in a silent protest against unhealthy and toxic workplace environments.

Amid a turbulent economic year, with sky-high inflation, aggressive interest rate hikes, and broader market decline – companies across the economy are laying off staff in record numbers.

After an explosive year of employee intake, tech companies are slashing jobs left, right, and center as they prepare for a looming recession. Names, including Amazon, Meta, Robinhood, Shopify, and Microsoft, among others have cut thousands of jobs in the last few months – some even as early as the last six weeks.

The frantic layoffs have left employees wondering whether their jobs may be next on the chopping block, sparking a new workplace trend – Career Cushioning – in the wake of tech layoffs and a broader economic slowdown.

According to LinkedIn expert, Catherine Fishers, Career Cushioning is a new workplace trend that involves “taking actions to keep your options open and cushioning for whatever comes next in the economy and job market. Think of it like an insurance policy to set yourself up for success.”

The term cushioning derives from the world of online dating, which sees people keeping their romantic options open and available to help them avoid a head landing after a possible breakup.

How are employees’ career cushioning?

Although the current employment situation in the U.S. has managed to reach pre-pandemic levels, seeing more than 261,000 nonfarm payroll jobs added in October according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment figures are still relatively steady at 3.7% as of October 2022.

Driven by higher levels of uncertainty, employees are feeling distraught, leading some to line up a Plan B or even perhaps a Plan C in case of sudden job termination.

Though the trend is still relatively new to the job market, research on the basics thereof is still fairly limited, yet, widespread concern has seen employees keep their resumes updated and add new skills to their online portfolios in record numbers.

More than 35 million new skills were added in the last 12 months, a 43% year-over-year increase according to preliminary information provided by LinkedIn.

But employees are doing the best they can to cushion up their resumes, taking online courses, learning new skills, or teaching themselves another language, hoping it would swoon over potential employers in case of a sudden economic crash.

Though most recent workplace trends – Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting – focussed more on employees leaving their jobs in the wake of miserable pay or working conditions, career cushioning is simply helping them to be prepared for any potential change they might encounter in the coming months.

Reasons why employees are career cushioning

It’s hard to say whether the concept is a valid and pragmatic exercise, experts often suggest that it’s in the best interest of employees to keep their career and job opportunities versatile, yet realistic against the backdrop of broader economic challenges.

Control 

Perhaps the most noticeable reason why employees are taking up career cushioning is that it gives them more control over their current job, and any potential job changes are already lined up. More so, it also allows them to have a bigger selection or choice of career opportunities in case they are laid off.

Planning 

Though many are financially planning or preparing for a potential recession, the idea of cushioning gives employees a bit more time to plan for the coming year. The recent mass tech layoffs have sparked employees to look for a potential soft landing, as they’ve come to realize that the job they’re currently holding may be taken away from them at any sudden moment.

Skill development 

Many are using this time to develop their skills or keep improving their relevant knowledge. Learning valuable skills in a time when economic uncertainty plays off in the background is helping employees develop their jobs and career prospects even further.

Additionally, it’s also allowing many to build and foster new relationships or networks with other employees or employers. In the digital era where everyone is constantly connected, the act of cushioning is now simply forcing employees to improve their networking skills, build new contacts and become more exposed to job-related activities in a positive way.

Final thoughts 

Career and workplace trends are constantly changing, and this is partially due to the mental shift employees have undergone in recent years.

With greater uncertainty looming, employees are using their time wisely, in the hopes of lining up any potential job offers in the wake of mass layoffs.

Though, like with any workplace trend, there is both a positive and negative turnaround. Employees should use this time as a way to improve their skills, while also building new contacts, and fostering better relationships with potential employers.

Although it’s not certain what the coming year will hold in store for the job market, career cushioning has revealed the severity of what the global economy is about to face in the next several months.


Written by Jacob Wolinsky.
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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Opinions - What to know about ‘Career Cushioning’ The New Workplace Trend Shaping The Job Market
Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the the founder and CEO of ValueWalk LLC. What started as a hobby 10 years ago, has turned into a well-known financial media empire with millions of monthly visitors focusing in particular on simplifying the opaque world of the hedge fund world. Before doing ValueWalk full time, I worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, as well as an analyst at a small/mid-cap value-focused research shop. After that, I worked in business development for hedge funds. I live with my wife and four kids in Passaic New Jersey.

Full Disclosure: I only invest in broad-based ETFs and mutual funds. I no longer purchase equities to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.


Jacob Wolinsky is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.