Career cushioning: Understanding 2023’s new workplace trends

If you’ve been in the dating scene anytime in the past few years, then you might be familiar with the idea of ‘cushioning’ — a way in which people entertain various prospects while dating or in a relationship in order to have other options. You know, in case things don’t work out.

In the professional world, the concept of ‘career cushioning’ is starting to gain traction across the globe. Following massive tech layoffs as well as the looming recession, employees are understandably looking to ‘cushion’ themselves against potential unemployment as the job market shifts back to being more employer-centric.

But while this employment trend might make sense on the surface, is it the right approach for talent in Singapore — or is it something that could backfire?

From quiet quitting to career cushioning

Job uncertainties are a growing concern, and the rising costs of living are only adding to this strain. According to Employment Hero’s Remote Work Report 2022, 56 per cent of Singaporean knowledge workers have a secondary source of income to help them cope with financial pressures and improve their quality of life.

Many are also opting to take advantage of the financial relief remote working provides in a bid to help soften rising household costs. 78 per cent of Singaporean knowledge workers believe that remote and hybrid work is better in reducing the cost of living.

It’s clear that global economic challenges are increasingly leading to employees wanting to safeguard their futures, which is why we’re seeing so much talk about career cushioning.

Protecting against the unexpected

One thing employees need to be wary of while trying to cushion their careers is to ensure that it never affects or jeopardises their current role, or productivity at work. 

Also Read: Keep learning and building relationships during funding winter: Richard Yan of Airwallex

While ‘career cushioning’ is technically about actively looking out for new prospects, there are other ways you can ‘cushion’ yourself in your current role that can ensure you remain employable, engaged, and happy: 


As an employee, you should always look at staying relevant by upskilling yourself. Learning and development needs to be a priority for you, even in your current role, in order to grow. Check in with your current workplace to see if they have any training programs available for staff; alternatively, there are many platforms offering a variety of courses that might suit your needs.

Find your niche

One of the best ways to stay relevant is to find your area of expertise and learn how to specialise in it. If you already have an area of interest, then kudos to you, but if not, do your research, check out where your industry is heading in the next five years and find something to own. Experts are highly valued in any field, and sometimes the best way to ‘cushion’ your career is simply by becoming indispensable in your role.

Know your career path

Speak to management about what comes next for you and chart out a career path for your progression. Transparency goes both ways, and if this concerns you, make sure your manager knows. Having a clear understanding of your trajectory, as well as the timelines involved, is important to plan for the future.

Start a side hustle

The gig economy is growing rapidly, and from our Remote Work Report 2022, we know that a vast majority of Singaporeans are happy to have a secondary income stream. This might not be an option for everyone, but it could be a good solution for those wanting to dabble in new skills or industries, or turn a hobby into a career. 

Never let your network go cold

Connections are important, and we’ve seen how many have needed to tap into their network in the aftermath of the global tech layoffs. Keeping your online professional social media profile (e.g. LinkedIn) up to date is a good way to stay in touch with potential contacts and helps you to continue networking easily. You never know what sort of opportunities might come about.

Career cushioning might not be for everyone, but it never hurts to plan ahead – understanding what you want for the future can only help lend a safety net and stability to whatever you’re looking to do next.

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