While the Canadian employment rate edges up, offsetting the decline in the previous months, some negative trends still garner attention. Among these, ‘quiet quitting’ and 'career cushioning' have recently surfaced as a concerning trend with potential repercussions for the workplace.

This trend has been popular in the 17th Floor community lately. As of this article's publication date, 54% of our members admitted to having seen cases of ‘career cushioning’ in their workplaces.

Have you seen any cases of "Career Cushioning" in your workplace?

This means they have coworkers who, even when committed to their current job, are constantly entertaining offers, interviews, or engagements from other potential employers as a 'backup.'

Why is ‘Career Cushioning’ a Concern in Canada?

1. Employee Turnover

Constantly looking for the next best thing can lead to higher turnover rates. With employees always having one foot out the door, Canadian companies might struggle to maintain a stable workforce.

According to Simply Benefits:

  • An entry-level employee turnover cost is between 30% and 50% of their annual salary to replace.

  • A mid-level employee turnover costs 150% and above of their annual salary to replace.

  • A high-level or highly specialized employee costs approximately 400% of their annual salary to replace.

2. Decreased Productivity

Employees whose attention is divided are less likely to invest in their current role fully. They might be spending work hours browsing job boards, attending interviews, or networking with potential employers. This diminishes the output and overall productivity of the workforce.

3. Erosion of Trust

‘Career cushioning’ can also erode the trust between employers and employees. Trust is a cornerstone of any productive working relationship, and feeling that an employee isn't fully committed can strain this foundation.

When employees stop engaging with their work and don’t feel valued in the organization, this is dangerous and will negatively impact their own success, as well as others around them. Managers need to keep their finger on the pulse of their team and learn to recognize when staff are pulling back. They need to communicate with staff and find ways to keep them invested.


The Power of Positive Feedback

While 'career cushioning' highlights a concerning trend, there's a counter-strategy that holds immense potential for the Canadian workplace: the art of positive feedback. According to one of 17th Floor’s partners, Canadian HR software company Folks, healthy feedback can be a game-changer.

Feedback culture in the workplace refers to attitudes and processes that encourage open business communication in order to collect, share and receive constructive feedback. The goal is to improve working practices and individual and organizational success while maintaining a positive workplace environment.

Constructive feedback fosters a sense of accomplishment and belonging among employees. When they feel their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged in their work.

Positive feedback doesn't just make employees feel good; it directly impacts their performance. According to Zippia69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being recognized through feedback.

See what our members think about this matter.

It’s surprising how many leaders are uncomfortable with giving honest feedback, especially if there needs to be some improvement. Getting and giving valuable feedback may require a shift in how feedback is viewed within the team/organization. No one wins (or improves) when we are afraid to be honest with each other. To clarify, this also means that team members need to be honest with their leaders (and leaders need to be gracious in receiving it).

Continuous feedback is integral, whether it be constructive or positive. Immediate acknowledgement and recognition are so important to ensure employees know how they are doing, feel appreciated, and, if necessary, be able to work on areas of improvement in a timely manner.

I’m with Kirsty on continuous feedback. I receive and provide feedback in our staff meetings, our 1 on 1’s, and after a project or event. Of course, I also provide feedback in performance reviews. However, nothing should be a big surprise in the review: good, bad, (lack of a better word) or otherwise. And as Lisa noted, 'Team members need to be honest with their leaders (and leaders need to be gracious in receiving it).'


A culture of appreciation can significantly reduce the desire to look elsewhere for validation. And as the Canadian labour market continues to grow and diversify, it's essential to address trends like 'career cushioning' head-on. However, the solution might not be in complex HR strategies but in the simple act of positive acknowledgment.

How do you give feedback to your employees?

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