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February 10, 2023

HR Professionals, Look Out for Career Cushioning

HR Professionals, Look Out for Career Cushioning

What is Career Cushioning?

HR leaders are working to address a current “Career Cushioning” trend among workers to help companies retain more of their talent. The term describes the tendency for an employee to focus effort toward creating a “plan B” job option for themselves while they’re still working in their current job. It’s a problem for employers for three reasons.

  1. It’s hard for companies to engage employees that have one foot out the door.
  2. Productivity slacks if the employee uses company time to explore other job opportunities.
  3. Productivity slacks even if the employee uses personal time due to their used-up mental energy and focus.

Why do Employees Career Cushion?

Career cushioning isn’t a new thing. Lots of employees, over their careers, have taken measures to protect their marketability and job options. It happens more often in companies where employees perceive a lack of management support. Employees decide it’s easier to leave and grow somewhere else. 

We’re seeing an uptick in career cushioning behavior now because the business landscape still looks uncertain and companies are looking for ways to reduce costs. In recent months several large employers laid off part of their workforce. On January 20th, Google announced it was cutting 12,000 jobs, 6% of its full-time workforce. Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and other tech giants have made large reductions as well as non-technology companies like Ford Motor Co., 7-Eleven, and Goldman Sachs

Workforces across the U.S. are feeling the economic shifts. Worries about the possibility of furloughs and layoffs sit in the back of employees’ minds. 

The anxiety that job worries produce in an employee can hurt their performance at work and at home. Even if they see it coming, being laid off can shock and disappoint employees, especially those whose family depends on that income. Data shows unemployed workers search harder and longer for a new role than employed ones because employers question more deeply why and how an applicant left their previous job. The damage caused by both rumors of layoffs and layoffs carried out prompts a person to seek security in a fallback opportunity. With another option in hand, employees can make sure they and their families will be ok if something happens to their current job. 

Don’t blame the “Career Cushioners”.

It’s reasonable for an employee to want to make themselves a more desirable worker. Doing so gives them greater perceived control when so many variables are out of their hands. Why not embrace your employees’ need to build job security? An employee’s confidence in their skills and abilities powers a high performance in their role at your firm as much as it would power their performance somewhere else. Letting your people sharpen their skills and load up their capacity on your watch, helps you get the most out of them while things are uncertain, instead of another company. 

Your employees know that it’s shaky over at ABC Company too. Your people just want to be in the process of staying desirable. They’re not trying to make underhanded plays. It’s similar to companies striving to put out goods and services that people still want to buy in an uncertain market. At the end of the day if something did happen and your company did need to make cuts, wouldn’t you want your people to be able to find good work somewhere else? 

Listen To “Career Cushioners”.

Career development is a win-win answer to the Career Cushioning trend in which you help your people access job preparation with the intention of retaining that developed talent as much as possible. The company benefits from having fully engaged, full-throttle employees. Employees know their worth and feel ok about whatever the future might bring for their careers. Both sides can sleep better at night. 

HR Leaders can power up their career development support using: 

  • mentorship programs
  • network building
  • on-the-job training
  • individual career coaching

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report found that 94% of employees surveyed would stay at their job if they had career support from their company. HR leaders are deploying TaskHuman’s mobile coaching platform as a way to bring these key programs into reality or as a way to make existing programs more accessible. Employees can use TaskHuman to establish a mentor relationship and participate in network building. They can learn individually and privately from TaskHuman’s expert coaches, beefing up both their role capacity and career potential. Companies see growth and development happen more quickly using a 1:1 development support model. 

When your company invests in its employees and demonstrates a belief and willingness to support them, they stay committed because they can see an upward path where they are as much as any other place of work. They’ll likely stick with you until necessity moves them elsewhere. They know you’ll support them if that time comes, so they spend less time building a support plan on their own. 

Our Solution

TaskHuman partners with companies as they build out a robust talent development system for their people. Today’s workforce requires a lot from HR professionals, and TaskHuman can help them deliver in terms of the variety of support options, flexibility, and speed to implementation. Learn more about how TaskHuman can work for your team.


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