homeeducation NewsCareer cushioning replaces quiet quitting as the new workplace trend

Career cushioning replaces quiet quitting as the new workplace trend

Career cushioning replaces quiet quitting as the new workplace trend
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By Nishtha Pandey   | Kanishka Sarkar  Mar 14, 2023 1:36:22 AM IST (Updated)

Simply put, career cushioning — which is not exactly a novelty in the workplace — implies being ready with a plan B to cushion the sudden impact of job loss or layoff due to economic lows or employment downtrends. Here's what experts told CNBC TV18 on how one should prepare for such an eventuality.

Move over from ‘quiet quitting’. Increasing layoffs and job insecurity has given prominence to ‘career cushioning’, which loosely translates as employees being ready with a plan B. This time, the workplace has borrowed this trend from the dating industry. In romantic relationships, cushioning is a strategy to soften the blow of a breakup. In the workplace culture, it means to leave your options open and take steps to ‘cushion the landing’ if anything unexpected happens.

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Given an increase in firings as companies prepare for a recession, the trend of career cushioning is not surprising, and, like most trends, it has been around in some form or the other.

“I don’t think career cushioning is a new concept though the term may be new. I always keep in mind to stay connected with HR professionals on LinkedIn, keep on upskilling and have savings not to be very badly impacted by any unforeseen scenario,” said Pranjul Mehta, a professional who has been working in the IT industry for the past five years.

Most workplace trends, such as the ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting,’ have to do with employees quitting due to perceived reduced compensation or unfavourable working conditions. On the other hand, career cushioning helps individuals to be ready for any change that may occur.

"Mid-to-senior level employees in the tech field and startups are at high risk of being laid off, as many companies over-hired during the pandemic by giving heavy hikes, to fulfil the then growing demand," said Santhosh Nair, Director & COO at CIEL HR, indicating the trend might be more visible in startups.

What comes under career cushioning?

“Finding your passion, upskilling/reskilling yourself, updating your LinkedIn profile, growing/maintaining a strong network, and giving yourself some time to consider your next steps are all examples of career cushioning strategies,” said Daya Prakash, founder of TalentOnLease.

Experts share a few steps employees should make a habit of to cushion their careers:


Employees should constantly maintain and nurture their network. According to Prakash, the most valuable resource for an employee is their professional network.

“A simple and effective way to build your cushion is to set up job alerts. Moreover, you can alert your network that you are seeking a different role by using the OpentoWork photo filter on LinkedIn, which is a highly effective way to receive leads about job openings,” said Prakash.

Upskilling and staying up-to-date

With new skills emerging every day, the criteria of jobs are also evolving. Shantanu Rooj, CEO and Founder of TeamLease EdTech, told CNBC-TV18.com in June, employees would need to stand out.

“Businesses are looking for digitally conversant, highly adaptive and multi-skilled people who can be moulded into any role. Employees will need to develop not only adjacent skills but also diametrically opposite skills — combinations like technology, and creative, technology and psychology are becoming commonplace,” Rooj said.

Krishna Kumar, Founder and CEO of Learnbay, told CNBC-TV18.com that making a note of your present talents and looking for methods to enhance them is another great strategy to protect your career. "Many of your present job abilities may be transferred to new career opportunities and sectors,” he said.

Taking a career review

"Analysing your career trajectory can help employees better understand recruiter requirements in the broader industry landscape," said Amulya M.S., Director, HR, Utthunga. According to experts, having a career review helps employees invest time in honing their abilities and setting goals.

Anshuman Das, CEO and Co-Founder of Careernet, suggests that employees should keep the right balance between high-growth and stable career opportunities. High growth does not assure stability, and when the job market is seeing attrition, such an industry will be targeted first.

Financial backup

Having some financial backup is a must at every point of life as it indicates how prepared you are, even for the unexpected. “In an increasingly connected world, something even in a faraway continent can have an impact in the form of a job loss or a pay cut. The emergency fund helps you overcome these challenging times. You can avoid borrowing from friends and relatives, taking expensive personal loans, or dipping into your retirement savings,” said Gaurav Rastogi, Co-Founder of Kuvera, an online investment adviser firm.

Rastogi said the emergency funds should have three must features. First, it should be inflation-proof. This means that you should invest this amount to help it earn above-inflation-rate returns. Secondly, it should be in such a manner that you have access to it without delay or a penalty. This will avoid high interest from options like credit cards or personal loans.

Third, before saving, always ask yourself how many days will the emergency fund last. “While many say that you must have 3-6 months of cushion, we'd go further ahead and say plan for at least a year. When job losses happen due to economic uncertainty, things usually take much longer to bounce back,” said Rastogi.

An apt 'insurance' plan

Career cushioning can be viewed as an insurance plan that you can utilise to set yourself up for success regardless of how the economy is performing. "It can make you feel better about your present predicament because you have a strategy in place if you lose your job,” said Prakash. 

As per Kumar, job stability isn't guaranteed no matter how hard one works. "It could be time to start planning your future if you work in a field where recruitment is dropping. Career cushioning is a must to keep your alternatives open while providing a buffer for whichever direction the economy takes,” said Kumar.


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