What is career cushioning? Australian workers brace for redundancy

Feel bad about shopping around or making yourself more employable for another job? Well you’re not alone.

Over half of working Aussies are ‘cushioning’ their careers in case of redundancy, new research shows.

Professionals across Australia are seeking out new skills and cultivating their networks to brace for challenging economic times ahead.

The trend of ‘career cushioning’ has emerged over recent years, but according to LinkedIn polling of almost 2000 Australian workers, 53 per cent are hedging their bets with an employment “insurance policy”.

Further data shows there may be merit to their concerns, with the national hiring rate down 14 per cent year-on-year and 29 per cent of Australian employers saying they plan to cut staff.

And it found just 10 per cent were totally comfortable in their current job.

Cayla Dengate, senior news editor at LinkedIn, said there are a number of ways to cushion your career, which doesn’t always involve having to do the dirty on your boss.

People are trying to cushion their careers by seeking out new skills, cultivating their networks, and reaching out to people who might be able to help on the off chance that they lose their job,” she told news.com.au.

“I suppose correct cushioning is an insurance policy. They’re setting themselves up for success if the worst happens in their career.

“These are not people who want to leave their jobs. They’re people who are looking for that security in the future.”

Ms Dengate said the study showed no specific industries in which the career cushioning trend was more prevalent.

As for what they are doing to ensure their work futures, she said gaining new and improved skills and networking was high on the list.

“In terms of upskilling, it’s not necessarily enrolling in a three-year university degree,” she explained.

“It’s more about gaining these skills through classes and certifications – just to make sure you have the skills you need that are in demand right now and in the future in your industry.”

Ms Dengate said career cushioning is subtle – and when done right, your boss need not even know.

“These are people who actually want to keep their jobs – they’re most probably loyal staff members who are just feeling a little bit nervous about a potential economic downturn,’ she explained.

“So I would, I would say that career cushioning is subtle. Your boss probably doesn’t even notice that you’re gaining a few new skills here and there, that you’re polishing up your LinkedIn profile, or that you have a few coffee catch-ups with people in your network in your industry.

“It’s definitely something that I think anyone can do without feeling like they’re being conspicuous towards their manager.”

She believed most “modern managers” would realise staff picking up new skills wasn’t a sign they were looking elsewhere.

“It’s about future-proofing yourself and being better at the job that you’re currently doing,” she said.

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