Career cushioning: Third of UK workers line up ‘plan B’ job

Recruitment giant Robert Walters believes ‘career cushioning’ is growing in prominence as the UK continues to hover around the recessionary danger zone

More than a third (37%) of UK workers have admitted taking steps towards looking for a new job – predominantly due to economic uncertainty and fear of their existing role being made redundant. 

And recruitment heavyweight Robert Walters believes the phenomenon of ‘career cushioning’ is growing in prominence as the nation continues to hover around the recessionary danger zone.

According to a poll of 2,000 white-collar workers, the leading reasons causing them to look elsewhere are:

  • A lack of job security from their company (72%)
  • Turbulent economic conditions (55%)
  • Internal changes within their business (45%)
  • Low job satisfaction (33%)

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters, said: “This survey highlights how acutely aware professionals are of the difficulties organisations are currently facing due to challenging economic conditions – hence the rise of ‘career cushioning’ tactics as a protective measure.

Chris Poole, Managing Director of Robert Walters

“Staff retention needs to be top of all employers’ lists at the moment to ensure that employees don’t actually take the final step of applying for other roles.

“On the other side, my advice to professionals is to not be blind. If you are concerned about job security in any way, my advice would be to prepare for finding a new role sooner rather than later. Start with some very simple steps such as updating your LinkedIn profile, sign up to job alerts, and refresh your CV.”

Career cushioning not always negative for employers

London-based Robert Walters found there were multiple tactics being used for career cushioning. 

These include:

  • Monitoring the jobs market (66%)
  • CV preparation (43%)
  • Networking more (36%)
  • Applying for jobs (33%)
  • Upskilling/training (30%)
  • Working with a career coach or recruiter (22%)
  • Adopting a side hustle (15%)

Interestingly, a quarter of professionals admitted that their perusal of the jobs market and self-assessment of their skills had led them to appreciate their employer more, while a further fifth admitted they had discovered their current employer paid better than the market average.

“Career cushioning needn’t always be looked at as a negative by employers,” added Poole. “In many cases it can lead to employees upskilling, being more determined to succeed or engaging in more networking – bringing greater value to the business.

“There is no guarantee that those career cushioning will leave. It’s an old adage but researching opportunities elsewhere often illustrates that the grass isn’t always greener.”


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