Anna O’Dea: Why Do People Quit Their Jobs

Anna O’Dea: Why Do People Quit Their Jobs

Recruitment expert and founder of Iceberg, Anna O’Dea put up a poll on her LinkedIn, asking, ‘Why would you quit your job?’ – the results were insightful.

O’Dea makes her living by pairing people with work opportunities. Inevitably, part of her role is replacing people after someone has left. So it makes sense she’d be fascinated by why people leave roles, particularly if they are highly coveted.

The recruitment expert has a considerable reach on LinkedIn and is seen as a leading voice in her field. She was awarded LinkedIn’s Top Voice in both 2016 and 2017.

O’Dea rose to prominence when she founded Leading Ladies by investing $50,000 of her own money. The organisation promotes the visibility of senior women in leadership positions across advertising, marketing, digital and PR.

O’Dea made a splash on the platform again when she posed a simple but interesting poll: Why would you quit your job?

The poll then listed four reasons:

  • Toxic work culture, 
  • Lack of flexibility to work from home,
  • Lack of raises,
  • Bad leadership.

More than 3,000 people participated in the poll.

Toxic culture won, with bad leadership coming in second. Interestingly, money was not a deciding factor for the majority.

O’Dea told B&T, that she wasn’t shocked by the results: “I’d say the results weren’t that surprising considering the impact that really hating working in your office, can have on your wellbeing and mental health.

“A company is an ecosystem. Everything is so tied together, just putting your head down and focusing on work is easier said than done.

“Your position doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and no matter how much you love what you do, it’s a strong person who can work day-in and day-out in a negative, toxic environment without being worse off for it.”

Ultimately the poll attracted a pretty even gender split with 47 per cent women and 53 per cent men. However, O’Dea does believe that toxic workplace culture has more impact on women. 

In fact, the poll references Susan Fowler’s viral blog, where she famously wrote about her time working at Uber. Fowler’s blog discussed how the company was male-dominated and that she found it an incredibly toxic and strange workplace.

Fowler said: “When I joined Uber, the organisation I was part of was over 25 per cent women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another organisation, this number had dropped down to less than 6 per cent.”

O’Dea, believes Fowler’s experiences point out the way culture can impact women more than men.

O’Dea said: “Culture is important for everyone. Bullying can happen to any gender, as can racism. A toxic workplace presents issues across the spectrum, but some of these disproportionately affect women.

“There’s a clear reason that all those women were leaving Uber, instead of the men. Women face issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace more frequently, and they need a culture that supports, believes and listens to them. Organisations are often set to support men by default.

“Women aren’t so lucky. Culture is important for everyone, but when it’s toxic, women are more often the victim, as are those who don’t fit cleanly in the binary.”

However, O’Dea also acknowledges that while workplace culture is important in every industry, creative ones are dependent on culture to maximise creativity: “When it comes to creative industries, though, work becomes way more subjective.

“It’s scary to put your ideas out there when there’s no right or wrong. An environment where everyone is comfortable is one where creativity thrives.

“When people are free to be themselves and explore what makes them unique, you get better ideas.”

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