8 August 2023
Discover the rising trend of ‘career cushioning’ as Hong Kong professionals proactively safeguard their job prospects amid economic uncertainty.
As the global economic recession continues to cast a shadow of uncertainty over job stability, a burgeoning workplace trend known as “career cushioning” is gaining traction among professionals in Hong Kong. The term, which entails taking preemptive steps to fortify one’s career prospects in the event of job disruptions, has been identified by leading specialist professionals recruitment consultancy, Robert Walters, as a growing phenomenon within the region.
Navigating Turbulent Times
Against the backdrop of fears surrounding widespread layoffs and hiring freezes, the concept of career cushioning has emerged as a pragmatic strategy for professionals in Hong Kong. According to a recent survey conducted by Robert Walters, a staggering 74% of respondents have taken proactive measures to prepare for potential job transitions. The motivations behind this trend are rooted in various factors, including shifts in the macroeconomic landscape, workplace instability, internal organizational changes, and concerns over job security.
John Mullally, Managing Director of Robert Walters Hong Kong, remarked, “Given the recent downturn in the job market, employees are adopting measures to safeguard their long-term career interests and earning potential. This often involves actively or passively exploring opportunities in the job market.”
Strategies in Action
The survey shed light on the diverse tactics that professionals in Hong Kong are employing to create a safety net for their careers. Leading the way are strategies such as actively applying for new roles (66%) and closely monitoring the job market (61%). Other common practices include enhancing CVs (54%), expanding professional networks (32%), acquiring new skills through training (30%), and venturing into side hustles (28%) to diversify income streams.
The Reality Check
Despite the allure of potential job changes, the survey revealed a reality check for professionals. Over 40% of respondents gained a renewed appreciation for their current employers after exploring external job opportunities and assessing their own skillsets. An additional 10% discovered that their present employers offered better compensation compared to the market average. This insight highlights that while career cushioning is a defensive strategy, it also underscores the notion that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Side Hustles for Financial Resilience
In a bid to secure additional income sources and enhance financial resilience, 28% of professionals have embraced side hustles alongside their primary employment, according to the survey. These entrepreneurial endeavors aim to provide supplementary income in the face of potential disruptions to their main jobs. The extra income is allocated for various purposes, with 33% using it to cover living expenses, 22% directing it towards savings, 22% driven by passion, and 11% for discretionary spending.
John Mullally emphasized, “Individuals are dedicating time to entrepreneurial pursuits that can generate income should their current employment status be affected. This phenomenon is fueled by the prevailing uncertainty surrounding the short- to medium-term future, not only within their current organizations but also within the broader Hong Kong job market.”
As professionals in Hong Kong grapple with economic uncertainty, career cushioning has emerged as a strategic response, enabling them to navigate the evolving landscape with resilience and adaptability. With a focus on both present employment and the potential for future opportunities, this trend is reshaping the traditional approach to career planning and job security.