What Is Career Cushioning and Why Is It Gaining Popularity

The trend has cropped up in the wake of mass layoffs and the looming recession

What Is Career Cushioning and Why Is It Gaining Popularity

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2022 was the year of new workplace trends. Remote working, hybrid workplace model, The Great Resignation and quiet quitting are all examples of new workplace trends. In the wake of mass layoffs, recession and other issues, 'career padding' has been a popular trend.

Create a Plan B

Career cushioning is about having options when your job isn't fulfilling you. This is how you prepare for a layoff by upskilling, looking for work in financially secure organizations, or starting a side business. It is basically the plan B for a job loss.

It reminds me of the Darwinian evolutionary proverb "Survival Of The Fittest", which is so applicable in today's VUCA times. Career cushioning helps you stay afloat. "In simple terms, it's about upskilling and cross-skilling as well as planning for more/an alternative career option to return to 'cushion country' in the event of an unexpected job loss," Raj Tanwar, Head HR, Advantage Club, a global employee engagement platform.

This trend isn't new, but it has existed in some form. This trend is growing as waves of global political instability, mass layoffs and recession have created a sense of insecurity within employees from all sectors. Employees must be prepared with a plan B.

During the pandemic, many startups employed thousands of people. These same employees are being fired because of unplanned and unsustainable growth from such startups. It's normal for them to discuss solutions with others in the same boat and with their connections. It wouldn't be true to call it an emerging trend, as employees take precautionary steps whenever their jobs are in danger. However, collective open discussion about this topic is a new phenomenon," stated Sumit Sabharwal CEO of Teamlease HR-Tech.

Career cushioning is crucial

Although life is unpredictable, the pandemic has made this more apparent than ever. It has also brought with it the unpredictable nature of jobs, forcing people to think outside of the box in order to protect their financial position. GenZ believes that having a backup plan is essential to ensure you are able to recover quickly if things go wrong. People need to understand that they don't have to be limited to one job. Vijay Yalamanchili is the CEO of Keka, an HR tech platform. "I have preached the importance to honing multiple skill sets for 15-20 years now," he said.

It has been easier than ever to acquire new skills and build a career. This allows one to maintain a steady standard of living while saving for the future. It's not uncommon to find a programmer who works in a software company, but also teaches online coding classes. Their career interests and career paths are quite different, but they can complement each other in finding work when they need it. You can be a doctor, a musician or a sales representative as a writer or a chef selling online food. Tanwar said that it is also sensible to protect against uncertainty.

How to do it

Experts in career advice advise employees to develop skills that are complementary to their primary work. For example, if your job is product management, having experience in UX/UI design will be a huge advantage. You can become a full-stack developer if you're a back-end programmer. Upskilling is a good idea. The best case scenario is that you'll stay at your job, but will have additional skills to help with internal job openings. These skills are used to solve problems. Today's problems require many skills. You should be a problem-solver in any organization. Don't limit yourself to a job, and try solving as many problems as possible. Yalamanchili said that this attitude is essential to succeed in today's business world.

Career cushioning is not necessary in an ideal environment. Sabharwal advises that in an unpredictable environment, it is important to keep in touch with colleagues and friends in other organizations, and to stay up-to-date with new skills, so that one can find another job when needed.

Experts advise employees to be financially responsible and have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of income. To stay afloat during difficult times, it is best to save at least 10% of your salary.

When is it the best time to do this?

"Career padding is an ongoing process. In the current times, it is even more relevant. Yalamanchili said that it can be used as an alternative path if you are unhappy with your career or want to find a new direction.

"You must always be ready for the worst, regardless of economic conditions. Sabharwal said that if your organization seems financially weak, you might be considering layoffs.

Who should be concerned?

According to career analysts, every professional working today does not need any career cushioning. It is not necessary to worry about people who work in healthy balance sheets. Sabharwal stated, "It's important only for professionals who made risky career choices by joining unsustainable businesses."

Career cushioning is a way to get out of a job in a company that's struggling to make profit and has grown only through funding. Investors are cautious about the current market conditions, which is why we are seeing a funding freeze in some sectors. He said that it might be difficult for many loss-making businesses to survive without cutting costs, which could cause you to lose your job."

Career cushioning is a popular trend, whether there are layoffs or not. Upskilling can help you advance in your career, and it will provide a back-up when things go wrong.