The last decade has seen the emergence of the Slash phenomenon. The Slash generation finds career fulfilment through juggling multiple jobs and identities.

By diversifying and building their interests and skills, they broaden their horizons and gain greater work satisfaction and recognition.

The term ‘Slash’ was coined by Marci Alboher, a columnist of The New York Times and author of the book One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Work Model for Work/Life Success, to describe people who have multiple concurrent careers and identities instead of a single cohesive career. As a Slash is added between various job titles to indicate various roles, the term ‘Slash’ was used when one introduce himself/herself.

Professor Victor Wong of the Department of Social Work and Principal Investigator (Community) of CLAP for Youth @ JC said, "Working in multiple jobs is not a new occurrence. However, unlike past generations who eked out a living by working different positions as casual workers, the Slash choose to work in paid or unpaid activities that are related to their interests and talents. Rather than material comforts, they pursue meaningful achievement and craft their own identity through multiple professional roles that reflect their passion, expertise and generational values. A portfolio career enables them to develop new experiences and talents as well as social and professional networks, leading to greater flexibility in life and work, recognition and satisfaction. The different motivating factors behind juggling various jobs are what distinguishes a Slash and a casual worker.

Members of the Slash generation are generally millennials born after the 90s. As free agents, they are not satisfied with committing to a single organisation or traditional fulltime employment. Professor Wong added, "With rapid advances in information and communication technology (ICT), digital natives can easily seek different career opportunities at little cost. In addition, the Slash arguably do not face the same financial pressures as their parents, hence they are able to take the risk of unstable income and forfeit the benefits that come with fulltime employment. Instead of climbing the traditional career ladder vertically, they prefer to expand in several directions and forge multiple career paths while seeking variety in life.

Professor Wong revealed that most Slash will eventually commit to a single profession, either through fulltime employment or their own company, as they get older. Although they no longer hold multiple jobs, the core values represented by the Slash generation — value creation, multiple talents and self-recognition — are certainly beneficial to employers, organisations and the society. He also believes that the Slash phenomenon will continue into the near future. Is this good or bad? That's a thought-provoking question that should be asked.

 

(*Kelly Services. (2015). Agents of change. Retrieved from https://www.kellyservices.com/global/siteassets/3-kelly-global-services/uploadedfiles/3-kelly_global_services/content/sectionless_pages/kocg1047720freeagent20whitepaper20210x21020final2.pdf)