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  • Writer's pictureZsofia NAGY

Career cushioning or a tangible change in how we work?



Just yesterday I came across a post on LinkedIn about career cushioning and what it is.

Apparently the term is based on people trying to "cushion" their lives (career, income etc.) by taking on backup jobs in the current uncertain economy.

This really made me think:

Is this really something new? - as I can recall at least a few earlier labels, or no labels but people doing these simply out of need or opportunity....

Actually long years ago, it was normal to have multiple jobs over a year's time and it became a luxury to just keep one job in the last decades (or hundred years maybe, if I really want to stretch it).

People did summer/winter & further side jobs to be relevant and honed skills that were resilient (they stayed relevant with the change of needs).

People still have multiple jobs to be able to feed themselves on one end of the spectrum (this deserves a separate set of thoughts as many of such situations are just plain unacceptable and must change, but it isn't today's point).

On the other end, there are executives with portfolio careers, which benefit from doing similar expertise areas with different companies at the same time (or even 2 different functional expertise areas) - all part or fraction of their time.

There are also those who want to change how they live and they do side-hustles in their free time, which then becomes their new profession or they keep both in the end as they like them both and it is viable to run them parallel.

There are many mothers who juggle both career and raising kids - which is not different from a multi-path career if we really think about it.

It is still a way of life for many.

The fact that the economy turned to a stage where those also need to think about multiple jobs who didn't have to for some time, is the key difference now.

Is this a bad thing or a good thing?

Is it a necessity or a change that we will welcome when seeing the benefits?

I believe it is a good thing and beneficial.

Many would heavily argue with me here for all the right reasons from their perspective - which I respect, but here me out:

Most of those people I know have many interests they would love to explore, if they didn't plug in too much time to feed only a singular career that has been the societal expectation.

Actually people would be much more content and happy in life, if they could do 2-3 solid interest areas they are good at and develop them into a multi-revenue stream solution for themselves.

It would decrease financial risk in their lives that is coming from a single career/employment setup as neither employers, nor employees can say any longer that a singular employment can last a lifetime (due to the volatile economic situation, which will only increase as we see it now).

It would be a win-win for many and it will turn out to be just a change similar to when people changed from single-earner households to multi-earner households.

Remember when it comes to sourcing and supplier relations?…if one is a big company and engages a little one, where the buyer is the main source of income for the little one….the law in many countries state the liability of the big buyer and they cannot just exit the relationship on short notice…that is not true for employment any longer, despite the fact that the situation is the exact same if you think about it.

So employees need to risk manage this aspect somehow.

Employees would have the opportunity to de-risk their earnings and income levels by standing on multiple income sources while getting the opportunity to do more of what they like beyond their main career.

Employers would have a specific allocated time the employee dedicates to them which delivers as the employees are happier, therefore more productive and at the same time employers aren't the only source of income and liabilities are less on their end too.

Don't get me wrong, I'm aware of the inherent risks this setup would also carry and how it could go in a direction where employers basically get rid of all of their obligations, but get all the benefits.

But I also believe in the inventiveness of humanity, specifically young employees who push back to balance the scales out, especially when it comes to building a 2-way street of both parties taking the relevant responsibilities.

So it is not without risk to follow this path and it is also not for everyone.

I also see many, who are happy with a focused, clear singular career path and they should continue to have that opportunity too.

We should think of this new aspect as a multi-way career path which is also normal and accepted in societies instead of raising an eyebrow when someone says they pursue different career options at the same time (which is still the case today).


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