From career cushioning to second jobs

Career cushioning and second jobs are a response to ongoing insecurity in the jobs market amid the cost of living crisis.

Business situation, job interviews

 

A poll by recruiter Robert Walters published last week shows that 37% of workers have taken steps to prepare to look for another job. The firm says ‘career cushioning’ – the process of a worker being proactive about their career prospects to soften the blow should anything go wrong with their current job – has grown in prominence amid concerns over the economy and a possible recession.

Among white-collar workers, the main reason causing them to career cushion is lack of job security.  Analysis from Rest Less shows many older workers have taken on second jobs. The analysis only looks at older workers, but it is a phenomenon we have seen increasingly across the board. Reasons include ageism in the recruitment process and a lack of flexible working. Many mums have been doing this for years, although employment rights legislation often hasn’t caught up, in particular maternity rights. Job security is also an issue for older workers, exacerbated by the factors mentioned above.

There is no denying that the current economic situation is rocky. Everything these days seems incredibly insecure. People’s reputations can be wiped out overnight, organisations that seemed to be eternal can crash, the cost of living crisis means many employers are on the edge and there is, of course, a lot of talk about the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on jobs. Every other day redundancies are announced. Yet at the same time there are still labour shortages in many areas. And amid a cost of living crisis, the safety net for those with no jobs has been whittled away over the last decade or more. Preparing for a worst case scenario makes a lot of sense.

There are other reasons people might ‘cushion’ or take second jobs or portfolio careers. One that gets little attention is discrimination and bullying in the workplace. If you have had a bad experience at work, it damages trust and so it makes sense not to put all your eggs in one basket or to cushion for potential problems.

Although we have seen a lot of talk of quiet quitting and cushioning recently, it is not really a new phenomenon for people to partially check out mentally in times of crisis and constant change. In the pressure to keep going and to keep adapting to fast-moving change, it is difficult to find time to come to grips with the impact of all the change we have experienced so far. Somehow we need to find that time because we can’t outrun all that people have been through in the last few years. Some way or another it will catch up with us.



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