Career cushioning: why job-hopping resembles the dating game

This WORKTECH Academy briefing looks at two taboo subjects in the workplace – the rise of keeping your job options open and the need for flexible support for women experiencing the menopause

What a year this has been for the global workforce. First there was the ‘Great Resignation’ as employees told their bosses where to stick their job and headed out of the door in large numbers. Then there was the ‘Great Regret’ as the economic climate darkened and people wished they hadn’t acted so impulsively.

‘Quiet Quitting’ became an alternative for those quitters who wanted to resign in their own heads as opposed to physically chucking in their jobs – ideal for workers willing to do the absolute minimum required to avoid the sack and still pull a salary. Now, according to Bloomberg, we have another catchphrase to content with: ‘Career Cushioning.

 ‘This is the act of discreetly lining up a Plan B, while fully employed’

Apparently this is ‘the act of discreetly lining up a Plan B, while fully employed’. The term ‘cushioning’ comes from the world of online dating where people in relationships ‘pad the hard landing of a breakup by keeping romantic options open’.

As the tech giants trim their workforce and Elon Musk brings a particularly muscular approach to staff relations, this might not sound like a bad strategy to follow. But should we feel guilty about it? Bloomberg’s Workshift platform quotes career strategist Abbie Martin, who says: A lot of people feel that looking for another job while already employed is cheating on a company, which I find insane.’

 Support for the menopause

If looking for an alternative job while still gainfully employed is one taboo subject in the workplace, another is the menopause. Despite affecting more than 50 per cent of the population, the stigma around the menopause is still with us. Discussions around how working women can be supported through the menopause have been increasing in recent years but the topic still remains taboo.

Newsom Health conducted a survey of over 3,800 women and discovered that 59 per cent had taken time off work due to menopause or perimenopausal symptoms; 18 per cent of these women took more than eight weeks off work and 50 per cent took early retirement or resigned as a result of their menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms.

This suggests that the menopause has an enormous impact on the working lives of women, but despite this New Health also revealed that 60 per cent of workplaces have no support at all for people experiencing menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms.

‘More needs to be done to break down the stigma around the menopause…’

Clearly more needs to be done to break down the stigma around the menopause and support people experiencing menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms through this potentially very challenging period in their lives. NHS England is tackling this issue through the introduction of a new menopause policy which makes recommendations for supporting staff through the menopause.

The policy discusses ways of offering support, including how to start conversations around the menopause, how to create support groups for people experiencing the menopause and how to offer medical and wellbeing support in a supportive and safe environment.

In addition to this, the policy suggests that flexible working options should be made available in order to help people manage their symptoms and offer them the opportunity to continue working in a manner that suits them. This could be a significant step towards helping people balance their health and their careers through this difficult time.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. This edition is posted 30 November 2022.
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