Employees Are Done Climbing Ladders—It’s Time For The Career Portfolio

Chief Strategy Officer, SEI Boston.


The pandemic, as we all know, has ushered in a new era of work. Gigs, hybrid and remote models, and a growing cultural emphasis on redefining the work-life balance have afforded employees the flexibility to change not just how they work but how they live. Gone are the days when employees looked to the next rung on the career ladder for their progression. Increasingly, they expect a career path that allows them to explore new skills, experiences and opportunities—something more like a career portfolio. But for those working at companies that favor the traditional approach to career progression, these opportunities are few and far between.

The labor landscape will only continue to shift in this direction as younger talent enters the market. A report from Snap Inc. projects that Gen-Z workers will triple by 2030, amounting to more than 51 million new voices joining the job market. If business leaders hope to acquire and retain talent in the coming years, they must acknowledge and adapt to the reality that this new workforce has a very different idea of what the ideal career trajectory is.

The Attraction Of Gigs And Passion Projects

While gigs and passion projects have been on the scene for many years, they’re becoming increasingly popular. It’s estimated that, today, 52% of the American workforce has had a gig at some point. What’s more important to note is that 84% of those gig workers reported feeling a greater sense of purpose. You won’t see those numbers from employees in a traditional office setting.

So why do conventional job positions continue to be the norm if gigs and passion projects are so appealing? The answer is simple: money, stability and security. When people feel that the risks of gig work (like fluctuating income) outweigh the rewards (like personal fulfillment), they opt for the well-trodden path of traditional working. It’s a disheartening tale that’s led to quiet quitting, burnout and an…


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