roasting departing colleagues, manager won’t return my emails about references, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Doing a roast of departing colleagues

An acquaintance recently told me that he had a great tradition at work, which was to include a roast in every colleague’s farewell party. After confirming that he wasn’t talking about food, I was unable to convince him that such an event really doesn’t belong in the workplace for what I thought were obvious reasons. Apparently his workplace had organized several such events before and he “never saw any tears” so it was all in good fun. I was too mortified to form an articulate reply after hearing that.

While I’m sure that some people enjoy being roasted by their friends, I can’t help but think that it’s just wildly inappropriate for a work function. I thought the entire point of a roast was to poke fun at people’s flaws or simply to (sarcastically) insult them and that just seems counter to the whole concept of being professional and collegial. Am I off-base here? If not, what convincing arguments could I have used to argue against this kind of event?

Ooooh, yeah, you’re not off-base. Of course, maybe what they do is more lighthearted and good-natured than what “roast” typically means, who knows — although I’d imagine that even then, there are remarks that sting or people who don’t navigate the line correctly.

If you wanted to argue it with him, you could point out that while there are certainly people who enjoy the experience and see it as being in good fun, it’s far from universally appreciated so it’s problematic to do it for every single resigning employee … that most offices have people with a bunch of different sense of humor and that what’s funny to one person can be offensive or upsetting to another … that “never seeing any tears” isn’t a reliable barometer of whether people are bothered, and that there’s probably pressure to appear to be okay with it even if they’re not … that when you’re not dealing with an office of professional comedians, there’s certain to be people who cross lines or just end up sounding mean (actually, that’s true with professional comics too) … that because this is work, there are lots of priorities that trump “some people will find this fun,”  like thinking about the morale and comfort of the entire group … and that there are lots of ways to send people off in warm, affectionate ways that don’t carry these risks.

2. My title makes me sound like I have management experience but I don’t

My current job title can be a little misleading to employers. I am an analytics manager, but I “manage” the analytics, not any people. Whenever I get approached on LinkedIn about possible opportunities elsewhere, they are almost always with the assumption that I have people management experience, when in fact I am in a department of one! I definitely work with a lot of different teams and people, but on equal footing, and often in support of their projects — they don’t hold much authority over me and I hold none over them. Most of my work is super independent, though, which is one of the reasons I’m looking at other companies.

My issue is that when I am responding to these managerial positions, I am not sure how or when to bring up my lack of experience. A lot of the postings mention that such experience is essential or required. Do I bring this up immediately in my replies to the recruiters? Or can I wait until I’m already on the phone with someone? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time if it really is absolutely required, but I know from the places I’ve worked at that companies are willing to hire on potential if the candidate is right, and I don’t want to disqualify myself from what seems like a promising job. Also, how do I bring it up? I am thinking of saying something along the lines of “management is absolutely a direction I want to take my career, and I feel like I have really pushed myself to learn and hone the skills needed for that responsibility, but I don’t have any direct workplace experience managing a team.”

I’d say it up-front before you schedule a phone interview, because if they’re saying explicitly that management experience is required, it’s probably required. It’s true that employers are often willing to be flexible on some requirements if you’re otherwise great, but management experience is less often one they want to compromise on. If it’s something where they have some wiggle room, the recruiter will know that and can assess your candidacy accordingly — but since you know your job title is probably misleading them, you should speak up from the start so as not to waste your or their time.

I’d just say, “I’m really interested in the role, but I want to be up-front that I don’t manage people currently, despite my title. I’m interested in moving into management, which is one thing that’s appealing about this job, but I want to make sure that’s not a deal-breaker before we move forward.”

(Relatedly, it is weird and amazing to me how many candidates try to bluff their way through questions about management experience, even when I try to pin them down directly. The ones who are open and direct about lack of experience in that area come across so much better.)

3. Former manager won’t return my emails about references

I am a recent grad and I just finished a temporary job where I worked under two supervisors. Both of them praised my job performance and said I did a wonderful job while working with them. I want to list both of them as references for my current job applications, but one of them blatantly ignores my email requests for references. I also once emailed him inquiring into an opening for a permanent position, and he completely ignored that, too. The thing is, he still replies to other non-job-related emails (such as any email about the work I was already doing for them.)

I find this behavior very odd, and was wondering if you had any insight regarding this issue. He said she liked my job performance, so why would he ignore my reference requests?

I’m not sure! He could be a disorganized mess, or he could be rudely signaling that he doesn’t really want to give you a reference after all (if so, this is not the right way for him to convey that). At this point, I’d give up on using him as a reference regardless of what happens, since you don’t want to list him and then have him not return employers’ calls. And if you’ve got another manager from that job who’s more responsive, you should be covered.

4. Employer wants to change me from contractor to employee and lower my pay

I’ve been working as a contractor for a company for three years.I am paid at the rate of about $50/hour. The owner of the company wants to make me an employee to keep his head above water with IRS (the agency is auditing his company, which has four other contractors like me).

He also wants to reduce my hourly rate because he says he can’t afford to pay his share of my Social Security and unemployment taxes. He will pay his share of the taxes but cover it by reducing my hourly rate. Is this fair and/or legal?

It’s definitely legal. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s fair without knowing more (like how much he’s reducing your hourly rate by), but it’s pretty common for contractors to get paid more than employees, since contractors are responsible for their own payroll taxes and don’t receive benefits.

I’d do the math to figure out the amount this will reduce your tax burden by, so that you know if you’ll be coming out head, behind, or relatively even. If it looks like you’ll come out behind, you should point that out and try to negotiate the rate. Also, find out if you’ll be receiving benefits; if you are, you’ll want to factor in the money you’ll (hopefully) save on health insurance, paid vacation, etc.

5. Contacting a hiring manager on LinkedIn who went to my same college

I just stumbled across a position at a research/think-tank organization that I think would be a fantastic fit for. I did an alumni search on LinkedIn for my college and found that (gasp!) the person I think I would be directly reporting to actually attended my small, midwestern liberal arts college!

Would it be inappropriate to ask to connect with this person via LinkedIn? And….is it inappropriate to mention my intention to apply for the position?

It’s fine to do that as long as you don’t imply that you expect special treatment from it. Send a short message saying that you’re applying for the position and noticed that you both attended College X and you’d love to talk with her if she feels like it might be the right match. (And apply before sending this, so that if she goes to look up your application, it’s there.)

I’m normally not a big fan of doing this rather than just applying and seeing what happens, but when there’s an alumni connection (especially from a small school) you have more grounds to do it, as long as you keep it low-key like the language above.

{ 69 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #4 – keep in mind that his making you an employee now will not magically fix things with the IRS if he’s been misclassifying you as a contractor all this time.

    1. Audiophile*

      Since OP mentioned boss being audited and having four other contractors, this seems like boss might have discovered his error and is hoping by correcting it the IRS will look the other way.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Also, please don’t take on the burden of “keeping the company above water” by agreeing to something disadvantageous to you financially…it’s the business owner’s responsibility to keep the company solvent, not yours. (It’s the other side of not expecting your boss to give you a raise because your rent increased.)

  2. TeaPotDesigner*

    OP #1 – whatever happened to the time tested wisdom of not burning your bridges when you leave a company. I can only see bitter anger and resentment resulting from an event like this, and it really doesn’t belong in a work place setting (except on a particularly awkward episode of The Office)

    OP #2 – are you me, because I am so in the same boat – I used to have a rank that implies managerial experience when in fact I had none. Thanks to AAM for answering the query on how I should deal with it in the interviews!

    1. misspiggy*

      Exactly – why would you do something that has a very high likelihood of making present and soon-to-be ex colleagues think you’re a jerk? Well, when my manager did it to me I already knew he was a jerk, which was why I was leaving. So maybe, rethink the jerkishness all round?

    2. I Want to Tell You*

      It *was* an episode of The Office! (And what I thought of when I saw this question.) Michael organized a roast of himself to try to relieve stress in the office after Dwight’s botched “fire safety seminar” and “first aid training”. It…went about as well as expected, with Michael running out of the warehouse near tears.

  3. Jack the Treacle Eater*

    #4 – you obviously know this, but the higher pay of contractors compensates for the costs that are displaced on to them – holiday pay, sick pay, administrative burden, lower security etc. so it is not unreasonable for the employer to want to reduce your pay to the going rate for an employee, to adjust for the increased benefits you will (may) receive and the employer’s increased costs; that doesn’t seem inherently unfair unless he wants to take you below the going (employee) rate for the job. If he wants to take you below a level at which you can afford to do the job, that’s then a question for you as to whether you want to stick with it and how negotiable it is.

    What might be more of a concern is why he wants to do this; have you been employed as a contractor when in fact you’re really an employee? That doesn’t really change the calculation going forward, but it may mean there are concerns over your current / previous contractor status and you may need to take advice in case you are exposed to investigation.

    1. Natalie*

      As far as I understand, there are no consequences to an employee who’s been misclassified. The burden of compliance is entirely on the employer.

    2. Squashy*

      #4 – I appreciate everyone’s replies. The company’s owner is now doing this to be on file with IRS as paying for my Social Security and unemployment taxes (and those of the other contractors who are in the same boat. There are NO benefits to us as employees. Normally employees pay half of SS and Unemployment taxes of ~15% and employees pay the other half about 7.5% each — right?

      He has reduced my hourly rate so he has funds to pay for HIS share of MY SS and U. taxes because he says he “can’t afford his (half) share of my SS and Unemployment taxes “.

      Re. investigation by IRS, I have paid my federal and state estimated taxes and filed my tax returns on time and paid my taxes in full for 3 years using owner’s 1099-MISC forms and the IRS and State formulas and tables. I have made no attempt to evade any taxes.

      I have instructed owner not to deduct federal or state taxes from my paycheck (exempt) because i am still paying estimated taxes, and deducting fed and state taxes would reduce my paycheck even more than it is being reduced now that I am paying the full 15% for SS and Unemployment taxes.

      So I am making 15% less than before, and owner is not giving me any benefits. BTW I make on average about $800 per week pre-tax, about 82 hours/month @ $40/hr. Last year I made less than $40K at this job.
      So where does all this lead to? Thanks.

  4. Myrin*

    he “never saw any tears” so it was all in good fun

    Not only does, as Alison points out, the absence of tears not necessarily indicate that someone is unbothered – someone might just not be a crier and show their frustration in a different way; it’s unlikely someone wants to appear as being “no fun” in a workplace where this is a “tradition” (meaning at least some people (probably higher up) do find it immensely funny); some people have great pokerfaces; someone might become angry rather than tearful and sad; tears are like the very last dam to break (pun intended) for many people in an upsetting situation; etc. -, but just because this one particular employee never saw them doesn’t mean they weren’t there; the roasted coworker might just have gone to the bathroom and cried their heart out or held up a brave façade until they got home. This really reeks of cluelessness and poor judgment all around.

    1. TheLazyB*

      I just idly thought ‘i wonder what my colleagues would say about me in a roast’ and before I even thought of a single thing I felt my anxiety levels go absolutely through the roof. Now granted I’m having a bad day, but still.

      Incidentally I remembered my first workplace yesterday. I’m quite surprised that after working there for two years I’ve ever become a good employee. The people there was fab but as a workplace… Jesus it was so dysfunctional.

      1. alex*

        Yeah, me too re: “I wonder what I would get roasted about..?”
        It’s like Chandler Bing when he wonders, about why he can’t do something, “What’s wrong with me?” and then self-replies, “Ooooh, don’t open that door.”
        Hope your day improves!

    2. Kyrielle*

      Tears wouldn’t be my big problem here; triggering my IBS due to the upset would. But yeah, people who can, especially if they know about this tradition, are going to try to hold it together and escape with dignity. That doesn’t mean they aren’t hurt, that they aren’t angry, and that this employer and the people there won’t feature in their warning stories about horrible places to work for years to come.

      This should not be done. Not to your absolute “rockstar” best employee who “knows they’re awesome”, not to your worst employee who “shouldn’t have been hired” (be polite, be kind, and just improve your hiring process for next time), not for anyone in between. Not even for whoever started this horrible tradition in the first place. It just should not be done.

    3. mary*

      How can anyone think this is a good idea?

      I’d be scared to resign just imagining I’d have to go through that.

    4. LW #1*

      Exactly. I assume this guy was working for a startup with a frat culture where the people who can put a stop to this just don’t realise what a terrible idea this is for a workplace.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Sooo,,,this means that he needs to see people cry in order to realize something is a bad idea and consider stopping the practice? Has he ever heard of the term “bully”? grrr.

      It’s not just crying or angry people he has to worry about. Explain to him that people will quietly lose respect for him. This is the sort of thing that goes wild through the grapevine. “Yeah, don’t go to work at Ace, Inc. Bob over there is a real jerk. You know what he does? When people quit, he throws a party and rips them a “new one”. Yeah, people have tried explaining to him that this is an offensive practice but because he is not offended himself, he keeps doing it.” Gradually, as years pass, Bob wonders why he can’t find good help, “why don’t any good candidates apply here?” This will impact his ability to do business with people, also.

      Succinctly put, I would tell him that not everyone is him. Different people have different world views. If he wants to keep his business viable he MUST be aware of this at all times and he must apply this awareness to all the choices he makes.

    6. AnotherHRPro*

      While I wouldn’t recommend such a practice, I think it totally depends on the culture of your friend’s company. Do they normally joke around at work? Are practical jokes normal? Teasing? While this may not sound fun to many people, if this is the normal office dynamics it may explain why roasting departing employees seems ok to them. I once worked in financial services and their culture was very “frat boy-ish”. I would say they would think a roast would be fun. I’m not condoning this, but I can understand.

  5. Jen RO*

    #5 – I keep seeing this come up, and it’s always confused me: are school connections so important in the US? Are alumni networks a thing? Do people really care if you went to school with them? And if they do – why?

    1. Caledonia*

      @ Jen, I’ve also wondered the same thing! For the UK, I can imagine if it’s somewhere like St Andrews, or Oxbridge or a private school then they’d use it and benefit from it but for my high school in a small town that was overcapacity and had to use ‘temporary’ (they are still there!) classrooms, less so. (Depending on the use of ‘college’)

      1. Dr. Ruthless*

        Here “college” = “university.”

        I get excited when I see another alumna from my (small, liberal-arts, women’s college). And when I was hiring I reached out to (inter alia) my old department for recommendations. I feel like my school prepared me well…and I’d be happy to hire someone with similar training/education.

        1. Kyrielle*

          At $PreviousJob there was a local-to-state college that definitely raised someone up on our radar as soon as we saw it. Not because the hiring folks were alumni (although by the time I left about 1/3 the team was, I think!), but because after we hired one or two people from there, we realized their program was absolutely top-notch for the skills and approach we needed, specifically.

        2. Honeybee*

          I also went to a small women’s LAC and finding an alumna is like finding a long-lost sister. I would definitely respond favorably to an alumna reaching out to me for an opportunity.

      2. Laura*

        I went to Cambridge and if someone tried to use that or my college for any kind of leverage it would be a huge negative mark for them. We do have the old boy network here but that is family pulling strings at a very posh/high level. I strongly feel that this would not work in the UK, where we do not recognise the word “collegiate”.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I graduated from a tiny midwestern liberal arts college. I think people care because it sort of instantly humanizes the candidate. It’s a shared experience and generally a fondly remembered one. I think it’s the same reason high school matters in small towns . . . I just went to an interview where my dad had played high school sports with the interviewer. People like to feel part of a community.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Alumni networks are definitely a thing. In some industries, those networks are so strong that they play a role in people deciding to go to certain universities because of the increased job opportunities that it brings.

      For example, the University of Missouri is well-known for it’s journalism school’s alumni network. Those who didn’t go there sometimes refer to it as the “Missouri Mafia” because managers who are alums will hire new grads almost exclusively. It has to do with knowing exactly what training these kids have coming out of school and placing a high value on that experience.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        Yup to what you and Aurora Leigh said. Damn near everyone working at my company in the home office went to the same colleges/universities (I’m an outlier as I went to a private university on the east coast). And I know that hiring managers will give preference to people who went where they went.

    4. Amy G. Golly*

      I’ve been to three universities – all in the state I live and work in. None are particularly small (two are huge), and in the case of the university where I received my Master’s degree, it is the school of choice for that particular degree in my state: I’d say about 80% of my colleagues graduated from the same program. So for me, the whole alumni thing is Not A Big Deal.

      However, if I moved out of the state, I imagine I would be quite tickled to run into fellow alumni! (And I know for a fact in the case of Big University I attended, it has alumni social networks all over the country. Often for football-watching purposes.)

    5. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I didn’t go to a particularly prestigious school so I’m only guessing here but I’d think that at minimum, if you went to the same school, you’d could estimate the quality of the education the candidate received. You might know if the reputation of whatever program the candidate studied was legitimately high.

    6. AnotherHRPro*

      It is a connection point. You immediately have certain experiences in common. From a job candidate perspective you also know something about the quality of their education.

  6. AnotherAnon*

    #1 – I spent years in a workplace that would roast people when they left. Though the roasts themselves were seldom mean-spirited, they were another symptom of a dysfunctional workplace. It became obvious who was well-liked because their roasts and going-away parties were warm, well-attended, and full of personal anecdotes. It was a totally different story for those not in the in-group.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      This was my first thought — not that the content would be mean, but just that it’s really hard to roast someone you don’t know super well and there will inevitably be people whose coworkers have no interest in roasting them.

      1. Amy G. Golly*

        Right – who wants to write 5 minutes of comedy material about Deborah from Accounts Who Mostly Kept to Herself and Ate Lunch At Her Desk?

        1. LW #1*

          I didn’t even consider this part of it. Even for people who’d be mortified at being roasted, it might be worse if no one wanted to put in the effort required…

  7. Daisy Steiner*

    I feel like roasting is kind of similar to practical jokes – you have to be REALLY sure you know your audience and that everyone is going to be in on the fun – and in the workplace that can be hard to know for sure because there can be pressure to go along with the culture.

    1. Rana*

      Yeah, roasts of people you know well presumably can be fun in the way that gentle teasing among friends can be fun, but I really doubt the average workplace has that sort of relationship between employees. As a person who only enjoys teasing when I am 100% certain that it’s a “laughing with” rather than “laughing at” situation, this sounds nightmarish: people making fun of you and you expect to just sit there and take it. I do not understand how this would be “fun” for most people.

  8. Brett*

    #3 This could just be a personal issue with the manager that had nothing at all to do with the OP. Maybe he dreads transitions in life, and providing references or assisting in other ways with a job search is a reminder that the OP is leaving/has left.
    Or perhaps he freezes up when other people depend on him. By procrastinating the email response, he avoids being responsible for someone else’s life outcomes. Or maybe he simply overthinks things like references and referrals and so ends up procrastinating responses to the point when it seems like it is too late to respond.
    Any of these could result in this email pattern while reflecting nothing about the OP or the manager’s attitude towards the OP.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Or he’s disorganized, swamped, or dealing with a health or mental health crisis he doesn’t want to share, and is overestimating what he can do and underestimating how much avoidance…lots of possible reasons that aren’t personal, but they all boil down to “since you can’t depend on him, don’t use him as a reference if you don’t have to”.

    2. OP 3*

      I appreciate this insight! It definitely makes the situation seem more positive.

      However, I can’t attribute his behavior to not wanting me to leave, since he wasn’t willing to help me secure the permanent position at his organization (of which he is the Exec Director!) Oh, well…

      1. Marcia*

        #3: I frequently receive requests for references from Nursing students. There is a rather scatter brained woman who is apparently a nursing school instructor with the same first and last name as me, and her first hyphenated name and my middle name share an initial. I have had my email address,, for over 15 years. I continue to get emails for references, her kids’ sports practice schedules, vacation reservation confirmation emails, and more at my address. I learned today she and her husband (now I know his name, too!) have poor credit (560) and don’t qualify to purchase a home. I’ve gotten an email from a potential employer asking her to contact them.

        I have replied to a few of these people and asked them to tell her to please figure out what her email is and stop using mine, or next time I’ll cancel her travel plans using the confirmation numbers emailed to me. So far, no luck. The dingbat is still a dingbat who doesn’t even know her own email address.

        Maybe the person you are trying to get a reference from can’t provide one because they gave you the wrong email? Either way, you already have one reference from that job, so that should be sufficient.

        1. OP 3*

          Marcia- That’s a hilarious situation!

          That’s definitely not my case,though – I used the same email address I regularly used during my time on the job (it’s memorized on my accounts search engine), so it is definitely correct. I also know that he is usually prompt in responding to relevant/important messages, which is why I found his behavior so off-putting.

        2. Sarianna*

          I have a similar problem with my primary GMail address. Though it doesn’t help you on Yahoo (maybe there’s an equivalent?), the Google Labs Canned Responses have been a lifesaver for me. There are several people who keep emailing similarly-named-person, and now they automatically receive a polite but firm ‘you’ve reached the wrong person, please remove my email from your address book’ auto-reply to their original emails (which I no longer see in my inbox). :D

  9. NJ Anon*

    I work for a small non profit. There are several people with manager titles who don’t manage people. They manage their function, sort of like a project manager.

    1. Vicki (content manager, never people manager)*

      It’s not just non profits. I do not understand why so many recruiters etc do not understand what the word “manager” means.

      Content manager, Analytics manager, Systems Manager, Project Manager, Program Manager – none of these titles implies management of _people_. Nor should they.


  10. gilmoreg*

    #2. Can you put something like “Analytics Manager” (Non-Employee manager) or whatever so employers know right a way that you don’t manage people? I was once a ” Sales Clerk” . I worked in a sales deptartment, clerical work. But sales clerk sounded like I sold stuff even though the stuff I did clearly showed admin type stuff. So I put “Administrative Assistant” in parathesis right next to the title so it better reflected the stuff I did.

    1. AnotherHRPro*

      Actually I would make it clear in your written summary for your current job that you don’t manage people. Something like “responsible for all teapot analytics”. It is fairly common to have a manager title without people responsibilities. Just be honest about it with recruiters.

    2. Vicki (content manager, never people manager)*

      You shouldn’t have to. “Manager” does not _mean” people. It never did.

      The OP’s real problem is that she is applying to jobs that require people management and she doesn’t have that experience.

  11. Nanani*

    Was this your only client hiring you full time now?
    If not, consider whether your really want to switch careers out of contracting. No individual client has the power to rearrange your career, that’s part of the point of being an independent contractor.

    If it WAS your only client, then as others have said you might have been misclassified this entire time and in fact he may owe you (and the IRS) a nice chunk – benefits for you, taxes for them – that won’t go away if you change status.

  12. lamuella*

    #1 the only thing I can imagine that’s more mortifying that having former colleagues roast me at a farewell event is being encouraged to roast someone else at theirs. If I knew such a roast was planned I’d suddenly find other plans for the evening.

  13. MillersSpring*

    #2 In most corporate environments I’ve seen, “manager” is a very common job title above specialist and below director, which is below VP. I would not assume that anyone with a job title of manager actually had experience managing people. To me it implies one is managing a functional area with a fair bit of autonomy. Alison’s verbiage is perfect for pointing this out to prospective employers.

  14. OP 3*

    OP #3 here:

    Thank you for the answer, AAM! I have definitely given up on him for now. Fortunately, my other supervisor and co-worker are willing to vet for me. Still on the job-hunt for now!

    Also, I apologize for the mistakes in the message – I was definitely not fully awake when writing it. I meant “other JOB-related e-mails”, and “he” instead of she in the last sentence.

  15. PS*

    The Roast sounds like a horrifically BAD idea — unless someone’s definition of “roast” is much more kind than normal usage.

    One of the best things about people leaving an organization is the opportunity to increase the professional networks among employees. Once a person is roasted, they have very little reason to stay connected to former colleagues, and every incentive to discourage friends and colleagues from applying for jobs there.

    It can also discourage current employees from giving proper notice. I know that there is no way I’d give my colleagues (whom I really like) a chance to do that — I’d probably formally give three weeks notice and then not come back after two.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe after a few employees walk off the job the boss will figure things out. I know I would consider doing that and it takes a lot for me to consider not completing my notice.

      If they said that I was a poor sport, I would shrug and say, “Think of it as you wish, whatever suits you. I expect adults to act like adults and I will not make myself go through an evening of being berated, even if it is supposedly in jest.”

  16. stevenz*

    I read with despair # 1’s post about going away parties. I worked in an office where that was the usual form that parties took, usually after a sufficient time for proper lubrication. It was all in good fun, and light-hearted and everyone knew they’re time in the spotlight would come. People would actually get pretty creative, sometimes putting on plays that summed up a person’s career in the office. The leaving person would give gag gifts to his remaining colleagues But there was always a serious card, a nice gift, and often tears. That was a great team to work with. I have never seen an office where everyone got along so well.

    Of course, this was before the hypersensitivity virus went global.

    1. Susan the BA*

      This sounds absolutely terrible to me. “All in good fun” implies that everything thinks the same things are fun. Even if someone put on a play that was 100% positive and flattering of me I’d be mortified about the attention and miserable just anticipating. And if I was supposed to be focusing on transitioning my responsibilities and instead I was stressing about finding gag gifts for people (because yes, this would be incredibly stressful for me) – just, ugh. I’ve also worked in places where people got along incredibly well, and it was because of hard work and sensitivity to each other’s needs and feelings – not because people were good at picking out gag gifts.

    2. Rana*

      What you call “hypersensitivity” I call being respectful and compassionate.

      I wonder, for example, how comfortable these parties were for people for whom “proper lubrication” was not an option.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        YES THIS.

        My workplace also does excellent going-away or other celebratory parties, and is in particular really good at tailoring them to people’s individual preferences. Sometimes it’s a big retirement party with music and speeches, sometimes it’s a dinner with the person’s immediate team at a restaurant, sometimes it’s a low-key lunchtime cake-and-coffee deal…there’s definitely effort made to make sure the person being celebrated will actually enjoy their own celebration.

    3. J.B.*

      A workplace where everyone truly loved that kind of event probably doesn’t have a lot of diversity in personalities. It’s like if you hire everyone for fit and then wind up with all extroverts or all brogrammers. I’m a good pretend extrovert but what you describe sounds really unpleasant.

  17. Slippy*

    #4 – You may also want to consider that you will likely be an exempt employee if you make the switch unless your pay drops by a lot. This could result in you working a lot more hours since they only have to pay you for 40 resulting in him getting your services for a big discount in exchange for a bit more paperwork.

  18. AndersonDarling*

    #1 we have roasts when employees reach milestones in the organization. But the roasting is recording videos about the accomplishments the employee made and involves comments from their family and friends. The most critical it gets is “Boy! You sure drink a lot of Diet Coke!”
    We call it a roast because of the format. The CEO presides over the festivities and there are speeches and videos while everyone eats a nice dinner.

  19. Dust Bunny*

    LW1: I’m sure there are things that could go wrong faster than this, but it’s Monday and i’m having a hard time thinking of any. This sounds like an absolute nightmare. I’m SO glad that this isn’t the way my office works!

  20. Dzhymm*

    #1 – I’d love to be a fly on the wall if one departing employee were to decide to take one for the team as it were. Proceed with the roast, then get more and more obviously upset as it went on, finishing up with loudly bawling one’s eyes out and running from the room. The resulting awkward silence alone would be worth the price of admission…

  21. TheOtherLiz*

    On #5 – just want to second Alison’s sound advice. When I get emails (or Facebook messages) saying “I’m applying for this job, can we get coffee and chat?” I’m a little annoyed. When I get messages that say “I just applied and…” I’m instantly less annoyed.

  22. NoTurnover*

    #1: A roast for departures (especially for departures!) is a terrible idea. I am leaving my job on Friday on very good terms. I’m switching industries to something I’m more passionate about, and my boss is sad I’m leaving but supportive. I have been there many years and have good relationships with all my colleagues. I genuinely enjoy a good laugh at my own expense and have been known to dish out a sick burn or two. I don’t mind being the center of attention. I feel like I’m in the top 1% of people who might potentially be okay with being roasted. And I would STILL hate this!

    Some of my colleagues are not funny, and would not be good at this type of humor, and I’d have to fake liking their jokes. Some of them I don’t like especially well on a personal level, and their comments would be more likely to rankle. And I’m pretty sure everyone has a few sensitive spots that are hard for someone who doesn’t know you VERY well to avoid.

    And not everyone leaves their jobs on such good terms! If you’re leaving because of your boss, or less than ideal work conditions, or because you were never going to get promoted…well, this is an even worse idea.

    If you need an argument, OP#1, you can cite me as an anecdote.

Comments are closed.