I wasn’t invited to the company Christmas party

A reader writes:

My company is a medium-sized company that has grown through (peaceful) acquisitions, so we have branches and offices in multiple cities and states. They consider the company to be very tight-knit, and I am on friendly terms with everyone up to the CEO/majority owner. The main corporate headquarters is in a city in my state, and is approximately a three-hour drive. I have two coworkers who work in my branch, but one of them is never in the office, as his work for the company requires his presence off-site. He is higher in the hierarchy, although not my boss, and is invited to the Christmas party and meetings beforehand.

I was invited to the Christmas party last year, which was my first year at the company. It was a lavish affair at the CEO’s house. It was very fun and it also helped me feel like part of the team, since I had never met most of my coworkers in person before. This year, the only other coworker in my branch and I were not invited to the party (this is her first year with our company.) Her boss, who works from the corporate office, actually didn’t know we weren’t invited and wouldn’t have known anything about it if we hadn’t spoken to her. The CEO’s EA said that we weren’t invited because not all of the travelers could be accommodated at the hotel. After my coworker’s boss made a fuss, we were grudgingly invited but told that we are responsible for our own lodging. My coworker was a little offended that we weren’t really invited and declined to go, even though she has a relative who lives in that city. My budget doesn’t allow for a hotel room at this time (and I didn’t save for one, since I didn’t know anything about this) so I can’t go either.

All of the coworkers at the corporate branch will be at the party and I’m Facebook friends with a lot of them, so I would have seen the company party pictures and felt really bad that it wasn’t mentioned to us, even if I hadn’t asked. In addition, they have various events throughout the year that everyone participates in, and we are never invited to any of those.

Our other branches are bigger than our office, and they are all having a party or combining with the nearest geographical office to throw a party. We are the only office that wasn’t offered a party, either here in our hometown or by traveling to the nearest large branch.

Is it worth bringing up to management after the holidays? I am on good professional and speaking terms with our COO, and I believe the lack of invite ultimately came from her. Should I let her know how this made us feel? Or should we suck it up and go forward knowing the main office didn’t want to invite us or give us an option to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the company?

I think it’s worth mentioning and I think you’re taking it too personally.

Ideally, yes, your company would have invited the people at your branch or arranged for you to be included in another branch’s party.

But you’re three hours away, and it’s not unusual for branches to do their own holiday parties. In fact, with other branches having their own parties or teaming up with a nearby branch to throw one, it’s pretty likely that they assumed you’d do the same (but you didn’t realize that since no one suggested it to you).

And with offices in multiple cities and states, it’s not unreasonable that they don’t want to pay for lodging if they bring all the other branches to the headquarters’ party. That’s not a personal, “we don’t want you there” kind of thing.

That said, it’s useful for the company to know that your office got left out entirely (which it sounds like they may not have intended), and it’s useful for them to know that you would like to be included next year. It would be perfectly reasonable for you to say, “Somehow my office ended up not part of any holiday party. We’d love to attend the headquarters one in the future — do you think we could be on the list for next year?” (Say this to your boss or the person who coordinates the party, not the CEO. It’s not really CEO-worthy, unless you’re very close to the CEO and talk all the time.)

If their not covering your lodging is prohibitive, though, then next year I’d plan on doing a combined party with another branch, if there’s one close enough. If there isn’t one close enough, you may need to do your own thing. Sometimes that’s just part of the deal when you’re in a branch office that isn’t easy driving distance to the main one.

The thing to remember is that most issues like this aren’t personal. They’re business, and it it usually doesn’t lead anywhere good if you take them personally. (Of course, I know that’s easier said than done sometimes.)

{ 143 comments… read them below }

    1. Episkey*

      Actually, it sounds like it would be a 2-person party as the LW mentions the 3rd co-worker is never in the office and is invited to the corporate party anyway. So that’s even sadder. :(

          1. LadyMountaineer*

            Yeah! <3 the fancy lunch idea. OP maybe you can reach out and ask about a budget for a "Holiday Lunch?"

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        I’ve worked in a three person office before, and we just went out for a really nice, really long lunch. It was no sadder than any other day in a small office (and much nicer than the parties we have in my current 4000 person workplace).

        1. Episkey*

          I can see that, but I guess we need to know more specifics…as in, are these 2 employees given the latitude to take a long lunch…and will they have to pay for it themselves or will they be able to get reimbursed by the company? Because if they have to pay for it themselves, I’m not sure that would really count as a “party.”

            1. Jennifer Scrimshaw*

              I know and understand what it’s like not to be invited to the company party and yes it hurts big time

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That would be true of any celebration that any branch holds.

            This is not really a tragedy. They’re at a small branch that’s hours away from the headquarters. There may not be a large party as a result.

            1. Episkey*

              I don’t think it’s a tragedy, but I do think it’s a little…rude, I suppose, for all the other branches/employees to be able to participate in something (per more info from OP below — either the big corporate party or a separate branch one) and then have these 2 employees be completely left out.

              It would be nice if the company let the 2 employees in this small branch at least go out to lunch together as a reimbursable expense.

              1. CMT*

                I don’t think it’s rude for a two-person office to not be able to throw a giant holiday party. That’s just the reality of being in a small office. And there’s nothing to indicate that they wouldn’t be allowed to do something like a long lunch on the company’s dime. I don’t think they asked. They didn’t know this year that they’d have to fend for themselves, but they can certainly try to plan for something next year.

                1. Episkey*

                  I’m not suggesting the 2 people in the 1 branch should be able to throw themselves a giant holiday party! The rude part is leaving 2 people completely out of doing anything when it seems that all other employees are able to participate in something, either the large corporate party or a separate branch one.

              2. Artemesia*

                It makes no sense to me to bring people in and put them up for a big party. I don’t think it is rude that the people in Peoria are not invited to the Chicago party or that satellite offices don’t have big shindigs.

                It would be the decent thing to do if there is big money being spent on holiday parties at large branches and the center office to offer a two person office funds for a nice lunch out or even to send their office a delux array of holiday goodies they can divy up and take home.

                1. Sorin*

                  I think it’s at least slightly rude to invite one of three employees at a branch. It’s not like those numbers are a secret.

                  Yes he’s the boss and that makes the different treatment understandable. It’s still kinda jerky to go, “We’re having this lavish party, you two aren’t invited, so go do something yourselves!”

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreeing with you, Sorin, I might be able to go along with the idea that “it’s just business” except for the fact that this third guy IS invited to the party. Annnd that no nod came down from above to the remaining two.
                  “Remaining two employees, you will be offered [a half day off with pay or whatever] in lieu of being invited to the Big Party.”
                  I think the fact that no one made sure that people left behind were given something, also and OP had to dig around to get an answer is adding layers to this problem. It’s pretty humbling when we have to ask why we are suddenly not included anymore.

                  It sends a message. I think it was handled poorly.

                3. Zombii*

                  It’s rude because the boss from Peoria was invited to the Chicago party and the Peoria employee was invited last year—probably because the company realized it would be rude to not invite her to a Christmas party and they didn’t want to try to work out the logistics of sending her to another branch if her boss was going to headquarters.

        2. Tuesday*

          That’s what we did at my old job. There were between six and 10 of us in our small office, and HQ was on the other side of the country. We would take a long lunch at an area restaurant and the company would foot the bill. I think that’s the best way to handle it. Even though I’m not big on office parties, I think I would have been a little irked if the main office had done a holiday party of some sort and not thrown us some kind of bone like the LW’s company did to her office.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is what we did, as well, when I worked in a *very small* office. Honestly, doing it over lunch was also just easier than having to come back in the evening, and it let us all plan our work schedules to accommodate it. It didn’t make me feel left out or like the red-headed step-child to have done something nice but lower key than an all-out evening fete.

          So maybe part of this is also about adjusting expectations, as Alison noted? I can understand feeling left out when you’ve been to a massive, “lavish” affair, but I think it might be more constructive to compare the situation to similar, small offices (and maybe not even offices within the same company, since it sounds like other branches are near enough to each other to have the critical mass required for a party).

    2. LJL*

      I’m a remote worker, the only one in my town, and I have an annual 2-person Company Christmas Party in my town. Me and my husband, and we have a blast!

  1. Murphy*

    I think at the very least they should have told you that they weren’t able to cover your lodging, but that you would be welcome at the party if you could take care of it yourself. (Even if that’s cost prohibitive for you, it would be courteous, assuming the cost of a hotel was the only reason.) Then at least they wouldn’t be just completely ignoring the issue and hoping you never find out about. And maybe they could have done something for you guys, ordered you a nice catered lunch or something. It seems rude to just leave you out all together when other employees get to go to this lavish party.

    1. MommaTRex*

      When my workplace had a fancy holiday party, they always had catered food for the people who still had to work. (The only timeframe/days that we could be totally shutdown is about 2am-4am.)

    2. fposte*

      It sounds like it’s not *all* other employees, though, and that may be where the confusion lay; some branch offices are doing their own thing. And maybe somebody more corporately experienced can speak to this, but the OP says they weren’t “offered a party” and I’m not sure that that’s how branch parties happen; in my limited experience it’s up to the locale to initiate, not somebody offsite to offer. So when it turned out that the higher-up there was going to the big do there was nobody to spearhead an event initiative–and no awareness that it might be appropriate.

      I’m not completely clear about last year/this year–is it exactly the same do at the CEO’s house both years and you were put up at hotels to attend it last year? If so, that is really annoying of them not to notify people that the policy had changed on this.

      1. OP*

        Op here. Yes, it was at the owner/CEO’s house both years. And yes, they put me up at a hotel to attend. I did not ask for either the invitation or the hotel last year-both were offered to me right away.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, they should have made it clear that wasn’t the pattern in time for people to arrange other plans.

  2. DaniCalifornia*

    I can completely understand the logistics of trying to host one big party for multiple branches in one location. I’m sure it’s a lot of work and effort to coordinate that. I also can’t quite get from the letter writer if it was *only* her branch that was left out or if perhaps other small branches were also left out, so perhaps it was a ‘we’re only going to invite bosses/higher ups this year’?

    That being said, if you can’t invite all the branches, you shouldn’t have the party structured so that only some branches get invited. The CEO could have said ‘only bosses/higher ups’ and each branch have their own office party. And the party doesn’t have to be a 2 person party. Give them half a day off and let them have a nice meal. I think the letter writer was invited last year as a new employee so I understand why they would take it personally. I would too. I wouldn’t cry about it but it would sting a bit. Presumably they covered her lodging last year for the party? If they couldn’t afford it this year then they should have made that known upfront and offered an alternative instead of just leaving people out.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I’m not sure the CEO knows about it.
      I think the EA messed up and forgot about the 2 people at that branch. She’s already made hotel reservations and changing them meant that the CEO would find out about it.
      Another theory is that the EA made an “executive decision” to leave out people because the hotel arrangements she picked didn’t work out with a higher number of employees.
      Either way, correcting the problem would mean that the CEO would know about the mess up.
      I like the phrasing on AAMs answer. I think the OPs boss should ask the CEO about it. It would be good to give priority to this branch because it is 3 hours away each way. Others could actually drive home if it was “only” an hour or so.

      1. Episkey*

        That’s an interesting theory, that the CEO’s EA forgot about LW and her coworker/made the decision on her own to leave them out. LW, do you think that could be possible?

      2. DaniCalifornia*

        You’re right, we don’t know what he knows. That is interesting I wonder if the EA accidentally messed up.

      3. Will's mom*

        I agree with this. It was the first thing that popped into my tiny little brain.
        I would have been hurt, too but I would not have taken it personally. The suggestion to have a nice lunch on the company’s dime works for me, especially if I could go home after eating.

  3. OP*

    OP here!

    The 2 of us in the office don’t actually have a company card and the company is really slow about reimbursing. (Also, that wasn’t an option that was offered. We can ask, I guess, but who knows when we’ll see the money.) So while we could go out for a long lunch, we don’t have company funds to pay for it.

    All other branches are having a party because they all have bosses that work at their branches. My boss works in another state (and is on maternity leave. My team all works near another big branch and they are going to that party.) My coworker’s boss works in the corporate branch and she and her team there are going to the big party. Coworker’s boss wasn’t aware until the week of that we weren’t invited to that party. We are the only branch that wasn’t given an option to have a party or a luncheon or any sort of acknowledgement of the holiday.

    I have only met some of my coworkers in the corporate office once, at last year’s party, and have never met some of the newer people. It helps us feel like part of the company when we can actually meet our coworkers. I’m sure I’m focusing too much on feeling like I belong, but it is nice to feel like part of the overall team of the company.

    For last year’s party, I was invited and the company paid for my hotel room. They even said I could bring my family (not to the party, but to share the hotel room) if we wanted to see the sights of the city the next day.

    1. Cautionary tail*

      To be blunt, get over it. When I worked in a three-person office I took the other two prople out to lunch and paid for it out of my own pocket. We had a lot more fun than any stuffy corporate affair. Now that I’m in a Fortune 500 company with over 1000 people in this location we still get mothing and if we want a Christmas lunch we go out and still pay for it ourselves and have to be back by the end if our luncj break.

      1. NotASalesperson*

        Just because your experience was different is no license to be harsh. It’s okay to feel upset about being left out of company events, intentionally or otherwise.

      2. AMPG*

        Yeesh – that’s a little harsh. It does sound like the OP’s branch sort of fell through the cracks more than anything else, but it’s still understandable that they would feel left out as a result.

      3. OP*

        I appreciate that for some people, a lunch paid for out of pocket is no big deal. Coworker is a single mom with 3 kids (in the process of divorcing) and neither of us make a large amount of money. Thank you for your feedback.

        1. Cautionary tail*

          Perhaps I was a little strong however buying three subs and three sodas shouldn’t break the bank, even for someone who is struggling. I say this as a person whose job and savings were wiped out in the recession.

          1. MommaTRex*

            While I agree that OP shouldn’t be too upset, it does sting a little bit to hear about the lavish party while you get nothing…or a sub and soda paid out of your own pocket.

            1. AMPG*

              Exactly – there are always ways to make the best of things, but the fact is their branch was treated differently than 1) all the other branches, and 2) how they were treated last year. It’s understandable to have this not feel great.

            2. AndersonDarling*

              Yep, if we have events and out of town employees cannot make it, we send gift cards or gifts. If we have a holiday luncheon with a “Winter Wonderland” theme, then they are sent “Winter Wonderland” cookies so that they can feel included. (I’d rather have the cookies than have to go to the events…)

          2. Snow Flurries*

            […] however buying three subs and three sodas shouldn’t break the bank, even for someone who is struggling.

            Wow. Just wow. Please do not dictate what other people should be able to afford, regardless of their income. I hope you don’t do that with people you know in your personal or professional life.

          3. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

            It’s really not up to us to decide what should or shouldn’t break someone else’s metaphorical bank, and I think the OP has some valid concerns about feeling integrated into the company versus feeling overlooked. She’s allowed to have feelings and to reach out for some guidance in deciding whether or not to talk to somebody about the holiday party situation.

            Your experience isn’t universal, and your phrasing was weirdly aggressive.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Cautionary tail was blunter than I would be, but I land in the same place. This is too bad, and ideally the company would handle it more smoothly, but it’s not a thing to get upset about.

      1. Mookie*

        Although not as structured, company celebrations aren’t unlike team-building events. It’s weird and a little disheartening not to be given an opportunity to establish a rapport with people whom you never see but often work with. Interpersonal relationships among staff does effect a company’s bottom line, and it’s beneficial to foster these in a controlled environment, especially for employees who are seeking, for example, promotion to management but are given little opportunity to demonstrate leadership and cultivate good working relationships. Doing that in the flesh creates a better and more lasting impression and may come in handy for internal transfers down the road, as well. It’d be a little different if these branches regularly got together (for work-related events or training seminars, etc.), but it sounds like they don’t, and so gathering together as many employees as possible is something the company should be encouraged to do, particularly when these two employees are so eager to participate. Rewarding interest and enthusiasm is productive.

        It’s okay to be a little bit (proportionally) upset about it. As you say, though, going forward and asserting interest in attending the next event should help the OP mitigate this.

        1. Mookie*

          At the very least, they should be forcefully encouraging branches near to each other to pool together some time and resources for a smaller, more local event.

    3. AMPG*

      It kind of sounds like your branch just fell through the cracks this year, which is a good argument for both 1) not taking it too personally, and 2) mentioning it to someone. It wouldn’t have been hard for them to offer you something.

    4. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      Is there another branch near you, or is the HQ branch 3 hours away the closest?

      It sounds like this was just bad planning on your bosses’ parts. Your boss is out and most of the team goes to the branch near them. Your coworker’s boss assumed you two were coming to the big shindig as she is, so there was no need to plan anything because she thought it was handled. Looks like a lack of communication is partially at play here

      Out of curiosity, is HQ paying for the hotels for the rest of your coworker’s team? Because if they are, and not paying for her… that’s a real issue I would think.

      Since your team is technically celebrating elsewhere, I do get not accommodating you. I don’t agree with it if others have their accommodations handled, but I get it.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        So I guess my question is: are other people on your team getting hotels paid for for the celebration at their branch and are your coworker’s team and boss getting their hotels paid for at HQ? If not, then it makes sense they aren’t offering it to you two. If they are, I think it gets a little murkier.

        I would ask for room int he budget to do a lunch or something next year if attending the HQ or another branch won’t be an option.

    5. LawCat*

      “It helps us feel like part of the company when we can actually meet our coworkers.”

      I think this might also be a point worth raising along with Alison’s script, especially since your office is not included in other organizational events. Something like, “The holiday party is the one time each year that we get a chance to meet and interact with our other coworkers in person. Making those in-person connections really makes me feel like a part of the team.”

      1. anonny*

        Even better if you can connect that to a business benefit. “I’ve found work on projects with folks I’ve met in person tends to go especially well; these relationships help productivity and problem solving throughout the year. “

    6. Not a Real Giraffe*

      We are the only branch that wasn’t given an option to have a party or a luncheon or any sort of acknowledgement of the holiday.

      So, from my reading, it sounds like you missed out on a celebration because your boss (a) doesn’t physically work at your branch and (b) is on maternity leave. So the person who would presumably organize the celebration on your behalf wasn’t available to fill this role. It’s easy to see why this is something that would slip through the cracks.

      It sucks to feel like you weren’t included, but it’s important to understand that this was probably due to an oversight, which happens sometimes. Perhaps the CEO realized how expensive the party was and wanted to trim down the invitee list and the accommodations expenses, and just assumed all the branches were doing their own thing anyway. It’s illogical to think the CEO or his party-planner knows the party plans of every single branch at the company.

      That said, I think going forward, you should plan your own party. I assume your boss will be back from mat leave next holiday season, but even if so, you could always ask them to provide their credit card information to the restaurant ahead of time, and the restaurant will automatically charge the meal/tax/tip to that card on file.

      1. fposte*

        Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s possible that the OP’s branch boss was told about this and it slipped her mind.

    7. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Honestly, I’d be upset as well because that’s a huge switch from the previous year. To go from being made so welcome to barely a mention is jarring, to say the least. Is it possible that there was a mix up of some kind? Perhaps Branch 1 thought that Branch 2 would be handling your part, and Branch 2 thought it was Branch 3.

      It’s hard to address things like this because the situation is hurtful but if you mention it, you run the risk of being seen as frivolous. I don’t know what the right action here is, but definitely treat yourself this Christmas to make up for it!

    8. Episkey*

      Out of curiosity, are there other employees traveling to the corporate party, and if so, is the company paying for their hotel accommodations?

      1. OP*

        Yes and yes, although those people are higher up in the hierarchy. I would expect them to be invited and for the company to pay for them (which is all the case.) The people on the same level as local coworker and I are local to the corporate office so there is no question of paying for travel or lodgings for them.

        1. Episkey*

          Hmmm…so tough to compare since it’s not an apples to apples situation. It sounds like you & your local coworker are in a weird spot where you 2 are the only ones at your (lower) level that aren’t part of a larger branch or the HQ.

          I do think it’s odd that last year you were invited to the party & had your hotel paid for, and this year you weren’t, when really — it is only 1 other person (your local in-office coworker) that the company would need to pay for accommodations for.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          The thing to focus on is the disparate impact. The company may not pay for people at your level to travel because they don’t need to. But with a 3 hour commute (and only 2 people) it would be reasonable to pay for your expenses because of travel times. Especially if it is only once a year.
          Having remote employees included sometimes really does help with the business. It strengthens professional connections.
          The issue isn’t what level your at. The issue is the disparate commute.

    9. Undine*

      I sounds like they were being super generous last year, perhaps as a first-year, get-to-know-you opportunity, especially with the invitation for your family. I can see it would potentially be cost-prohibitive to invite you every year.

      If you really want to meet your coworkers, I think it would be much more useful and productive to try and get sent to that city for a few days for work, maybe around a specific project or a company meeting. Then you could spend time with the people you really work with, and they would have time to spend with you, instead of being up to their ears in holiday madness. Don’t bring it up now, but in the new year, and mention that you really noticed how nice it was last year seeing everyone at the Christmas party, and you think it would really help your productivity to get to know everyone face-to-face. Don’t expect it right away, but water dripping on stone can be powerful.

    10. Roscoe*

      I really do see both sides here. It doesn’t sound like you guys were left out intentionally, just that everyone assumed you’d be covered somehow. Your boss being out on maternity leave and your team being somewhere else really doesn’t help matters. I think, as Alison said, you are taking this way too personally. While I can understand your frustration, I think you should look at it as any other communication blunder. My company has those all the time. But if you look at it as “bad communication from the higher ups” as opposed to “I was left out”, I think that reframing may really help

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Agreed. It wasn’t “let’s purposely leave them out.” It’s just that no one thought, “they don’t have any other options, so let’s make it a point to include them.”

    11. CAA*

      I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it this year, but since this is important to you, put a reminder on your calendar now for November 1, 2017.

      When that day comes, talk to your boss and say something like “As you may know, co-worker and I were overlooked last year when the company planned its holiday celebrations. Can you let me know what the plans are for this year so we can participate too? Or would you mind if I reached out to HR or the EA who plans the parties to find out what’s in the works for this year?”

      This should result in something happening for you. It may be lunch at a nice restaurant rather than a trip and hotel stay.

    12. Katie F*

      Maybe the discretionary budget for these sorts of things is tighter this year, or they had offered similar accommodations to more people and realized it ended up costing a lot more than they expected. This doesn’t really seem personal, unless something happened at that Christmas party last year you’re not telling us about ;)

      I know it sucks, but I think next year the two of you should just plan to go out one day and enjoy yourselves.

    13. CMT*

      Next year you should ask in advance about a lunch or something similar. I completely understand why you didn’t ask this year, because you had no reason to believe things would be different than they were in the past. But going forward, don’t expect that kind of thing to be offered. You have to be proactive.

  4. Dust Bunny*

    Our office parties are SUPER low-key: During the day, catered lunch, a few games. It’s understood that not everyone can come. We’ve tried other arrangements but asking people to commute in during the evening just for a party is an even bigger pain so we keep doing this. And sometimes my department, which is housed offsite because of our space requirements, can’t go.

    Is it possible that, since your employer seems to have offices all over the place, this was an accidental oversight? Granted, they could have handled it better once it was brought up, but perhaps somebody lost track of you two during the organizational phase.

  5. animaniactoo*

    Before I can form any opinion about this at all, I would like to know 2 things:

    1) Did they pay for a hotel room for you last year?
    2) Was last year the year that your company/branch was acquired by them?

      1. animaniactoo*

        Okay, I would assume that you were invited last year due to being new and them not having setup how to handle all the different branch stuff yet.

        I would also assume that your boss would normally have initiated whatever was going to happen around this for your small branch, but because she was out, she assumed others would handle it and it just fell through the cracks.

        I wouldn’t look at this as a big deal, vs an “Oops! Nobody had their eye on this ball, so nobody figured out how to handle it. Let’s make sure to do it for next year.”

        Also – if nearer places are having their own parties, I would be looking to be invited to one of those this year that was in easy driving distance (and mingling with and putting faces to co-workers that way) vs the HQ office one.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          That is one question I have not seen OP answer.

          **Are there nearer branches with parties?**

          If so, that emphasizes the likelihood that HQ assumed you’d be absorbed into an event elsewhere.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      OP I have another question to tag onto this.
      It sounds like they are paying for lodging for others who are travelling in to attend the party is that the case?

      1. Liane*

        Sounds like it. The OP says, “The CEO’s EA said that we weren’t invited because not all of the travelers could be accommodated at the hotel. After my coworker’s boss made a fuss, we were grudgingly invited but told that we are responsible for our own lodging.”

  6. VivaL*

    I actually 1/2 disagree with Alison on this one.

    The main branch is the closest branch (for combining), and what effectively happened was that two (3 really) co-workers were left out of an office celebration. Based on how this company does things, this is the equivalent of inviting everyone except ____.

    How tight is the budget that they couldn’t accommodate 3 hotel rooms, but could throw a lavish party? AND each branch having a party is presumably in the company budget. That doesnt make sense to me. When/if this branch gets big enough, they can have their own, but until then, they should be able to be included in the HQ.

    I say this is stingy stingy stingy and/or really a bad oversight on the part of the headquarters (both to have disinvited these two, but at the very least, if they wanted to change from last year, to not have let them know in advance that this was going to be the new standard). This is a chance to build good will, maintain and sustain the ‘close knit’ feel. They failed on that, imo.

    OP I’m really sorry. The part I do agree with Alison on though, is not to take it personally. Sometimes in bigger companies, these kinds of things happen – it really is not a reflection on you.

    1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      Yeah…this is one of those times when morale was worth the cost of 2 hotel rooms (especially since CW3 is attending).

    2. Episkey*

      I agree with you. Also, LW says the 3rd coworker (the one who isn’t in the office regularly & is a bit higher on the hierarchy) IS invited to the HQ party. I am curious to know if he has to travel in (unclear since I’m not sure if this particular person lives in the same area as LW & their in-office coworker) and if so, if that person’s hotel is being covered by the company. It seems odd to split the branch like this, ie the 1 person is invited/possibly has their accommodations paid for, and the other 2 are not even invited (originally).

    3. Snow Flurries*

      I agree. You (VivaL) brought in some insight I hadn’t thought of too.

      I thought whether or not this is indicative of how the company operates year round. How often in more-professional/less-social events is this branch incorporated? Do these employees tend to find things out last or after the fact? If this was a fluke, then maybe the OP should bring it to their attention in hopes of saving next year’s Christmas party. But, if this is a window into a larger problem, then there might be bigger fish to fry. I would hope not, seeing that the OP has a good rapport with those above her, but at the same time, I would just keep it in the back of my mind. If it is the larger problem, it might not necessarily be the OP personally, but it could be indicative that the branch might be in jeopardy (they may close it for whatever reason).

      But yes, it doesn’t make sense to be able to have a lavish party and yet not be able to put people up for a night in a nearby hotel (or two). How fancy is the hotel?

    4. AndersonDarling*

      Yes, this was just poor planning on the Company’s part. Either they needed to scale back on the lavishness so everyone could attend, or be very clear who is and who isn’t invited. If the party was an across the board Managers Only event, then everyone understands why they are or aren’t invited. But it sounds like everyone local can go and a few outsiders who hold enough clout.
      The CEO needs to know that employees noticed that the holiday party was not inclusive. Then the CEO can decide what to do next year.

  7. Mockingjay*

    Why not plan a party or a luncheon for your branch next year, and invite some of the higher-ups? Be proactive about your visibility. “We’re here! Come see us! We do good work; come see it!”

    Combine it with a business reason for the trip if need be. “Hey, I know you’re coming down to review the quarterly Teapot production reports. Can we plan a holiday luncheon for that day?”

    1. NW Mossy*

      My little corner of my company has several remote employees scattered nationwide, and we often look for exactly these types of situations to bring them to the home office or visit them at their normal site. The official purpose of the trip is business, but we get the benefit of having face-to-face interaction with those we don’t see every day. I’ve been on my current team since 2013, and earlier this year finally got to meet one of my teammates for the first time when he was in town for a client presentation. Even if you can only swing it once a year, it really does make a difference to see people in person.

  8. Sunflower*

    My thoughts are they can’t afford to give everyone lodging. If they tell people they can come but have to pay their own lodging, then you get into the position of singling out the lower rung/paid employees which I see as a potential AAM letter ‘Our company Christmas party is 3 hours away and we have to pay out transport and lodging’

    It sounds like you boss being in a diff. office and out on leave caused some miscommunication. I think Allison’s last line really hit the nail on the head.

    1. VivaL*

      But who else is going to the HQ party they they would have to pay for lodging for? Maybe I’m not clear on that point. Do these people have the option of a party at their own location and are just invited to the HQ party?

      My understanding is that it would just be these 3 coworkers that need accommodation. And it’s certainly reasonable to say “These 3 arent having a party at their branch and dont have another nearby branch, so we’ll pay for their hotel rooms. Other people have home branches/other celebration options, so coming to ours is optional/personal.” if you wanted to make a ‘bright line’ for expenses.

      OP can you clarify?

      1. fposte*

        To me, “not all of the travelers could be accommodated at the hotel” suggests there might be other travelers. But it sounds like it’s getting pretty muddy generally, and I agree that the problem here is likely to be communication of a practice rather than the practice itself.

      2. OP*

        People from other bigger branches (bosses) are all invited to the party and their hotel accomodations are paid for. I don’t know about airfare but I would assume so? (They are not in driving distance.) And 3rd local coworker, who is slightly higher in the hierarchy but is not our direct supervisor, was invited and his hotel was paid for. (He is in driving distance and did drive, along with his wife since spouses are invited.)

          1. Episkey*

            Right, but the LW was invited & given that same perk last year. So why the difference this year? It’s strange IMO. There is only one additional person (LW’s in-office coworker) for the company to invite/provide a hotel room for. That doesn’t seem like a break the bank kind of situation.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              The OP says in the comments that last year was the first year they were acquired. So it’s probably because they were new and/or they hadn’t set up how the branches were going to work yet.

          2. OP*

            I agree with you. I have no problems with any of the other boss people from the other branches being flown in or being put up in hotel rooms. It makes sense to me that this was done.

            1. VivaL*

              It’s very normal for higher ups to get extra perks for sure. But I also think that if they can afford those perks, it’s really extra stingy to leave out 2 people (who arent higher ups) bc you dont want to pay for their hotel, a nominal cost, when the norm is to combine branches for this kind of thing.

              For everyday stuff, sure it makes sense that this branch wouldnt be invited – it would be a whole day of travel/additional time off work, and would increase the costs over time. But for 1 or 2 events per year? To promote goodwill? I dont see the harm, but clearly here we do see the damage.

              OP I really think they were wrong in how they handled this – I disagree with the policy itself, though it’s definitely their right to make that kind of policy (and I also definitely agree it’s not personal at all). But it was pretty terrible to change it from last year, and change it at the last minute. At least now you know going forward.

  9. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

    Situations like these are why my old company stopped having a holiday party and instead gave everyone holiday gift cards (which was fantastic as they were usually $300).

    We were spread out across the country and multiple divisions. It became to crazy to parse out who could come and who couldn’t because doing it by title would leave out people who lived in the same city as HQ and could easily attend. They couldn’t do it by geography as we had VPs and Directors who lived out of state.

  10. M*

    I might be alone in this, but I’m actually a little jealous of OP in this case! I work remotely for a company that does invite everyone back to headquarters for the annual Christmas party, and I dread the obligation every year. Because they spend the money to bring you in and put you up in a hotel (whether you wanted them to or not!), you must spend your weekend time socializing with coworkers late into the evening…not my cup of tea. I’m sorry OP felt left out, though!

    1. RadioGirl*

      I’m with you!

      I guess I’d let it go and use the job as a place to grow, learn and then – probably – a launching pad for other things. I remember as an intern being the only person not invited to the company’s 100-year party. I was kind of grateful, but sill amazed that the company could be insensitive and cheap.

      I wouldn’t take it personally, OP. But I do like the suggestion above about inviting people to your worksite!

    2. valereee*

      I’m with you! You mean I don’t have to spend 3 hours on the road, go to a party where I can’t actually relax and be myself, spend the night in a hotel room, spend 3 hours on the road to get back home…and all during the holiday season when I’ve got TONS of other stuff I’d actually prefer to be doing, including curling up with a book and a glass of wine in front of the fireplace. And instead the company will pay for me to design my own “celebration” with my daily coworker whom I know and like? Where do I sign up?

  11. NW Mossy*

    While it’s not specifically part of your question, OP, I’m picking up a sense from your inquiry that your feelings aren’t just about this exact event. Rather, it seems like your company isn’t exactly the greatest about helping remote employees feel connected to a majority that are co-located. This is so very common, especially for an organization that began in one location and expanded to others via acquisition – my own is the same way, and it’s been stretched further as specific individuals relocated for personal reasons and took their jobs with them.

    If that’s the case, it’s completely legitimate to feel a bit isolated, and that’s an issue worth raising in a broader context. Being a successful remote employee (and successfully managing one) requires more effort, because you don’t have easy access to the small bits of social adhesive that emerge from actually laying eyes on people every day and the passing hey-how-are-you conversations in the hall. Since your boss is out on leave right now, it’s a good bet that you’re experiencing some out-of-sight-out-of-mind from whoever is covering for her.

    I’m not sure when your regular boss will come back, but after she’s been back for a bit and settled, you can certainly talk about it. Something like “It’s sometimes difficult for me to make connections to [people in another location] because we’re not in the same place. It’s a big help to have strong relationships with them, and I wanted to talk to you about what we can do to help reinforce those bonds.” There’s lots of different things remote employees and their managers can do about this, ranging from pricey (like in-person travel to the home office) to cheap (like sharing photos of your area on a team website). It takes effort, but it’s perfectly reasonable to recognize the value of relationships and ask for support in forging them.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I really like this point. That might also cross-pollinate with Mockingjay’s idea about inviting people out to their branch.

    2. Z*

      You took the words out of my mouth–seems like the root problem isn’t the party on its own (although I get why that stings) but the general feeling of isolation.

      I work in a company with three very distance offices and we use Slack to keep in touch/plan things/talk as trams etc. It fits our workflow nicely because we’re a tech company, but I definitely recommend it to the OP if it fits her company. Much easier to have off the cuff social niceties when it feels a bit more like you’re having a conversation.

    3. OP*

      I think this is the case. There have been other events that the corporate office workers have done together (as seen on facebook) throughout the year and we are not invited to anything, nor do we have the means to do anything ourselves like that. Some of it looks boring, some looks fun, but nothing is offered to us. I’m not a super-social creature but I do feel like we’re forgotten about most of the time.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But you’re over three hours away! That’s just how this works when you’re a far-off branch office. You’re essentially your own office, and it’s probably much better for you to think of it like that.

      2. Roscoe*

        I think the issue is that it is 3 hours away. That isn’t close at all (At least in my opinion). So I can see why they wouldn’t think you would want to go to the company bowling night (just an example) or something like that, considering how far you’d have to travel. Besides just what you want, it gets into do they pay you, pay for lodging and transport, how many remote people to invite, etc. It can be a lot to consider I imagine.

      3. NW Mossy*

        Exactly! Even small things like getting the “donuts in the break room!” email can be wearisome after a while, and it’s tough to be left out of that stuff.

        I manage a remote employee, and my boss has several remotes as well. One of the things we do is that any time we have a team celebration, we make sure that each remote person either gets a parallel event at their site (my remote works at our second home office, so she usually has that option) or a gift card to have their own celebration on the company dime. It’s not extravagant (usually just enough for a fast-casual lunch similar to what we had at the home office), but this is one of those areas where it’s the acknowledgement and consideration in the gesture that’s important, more so than the actual money.

        1. PinkCupcake*

          Exactly. It may not be practical to fly in tons of people. But if the company can pay for a xmas party, it can afford to send the remote people something. A gift card, a bottle of wine, a small gift basket. Something to acknowledge their efforts over there year. This is not complicated, it’s just basic leadership.

        2. Dan*

          I work for a company of about 7000 people. Most of our staff is split between Boston and DC. We have specialized email lists up the ying-yang. I think I’m on 20 or 30. This might sound like I get a crazy amount of email, but I don’t — it’s done to make sure the whole company doesn’t get “Donuts in the break room on the third floor of DC building 2”.

          When I get a donuts email? It’s relevant to me.

        3. Chocolate Teapot*

          My first proper job was at a satellite office, with HQ 3 hours away by train. It often felt like we had dropped off the radar, to the point I once phoned HQ to ask about something and said “Hello I’m Chocolate Teapot from the “Location” office” and got the response “We don’t have an office in “Location”.”

          They were a bit incredulous when I asked for something towards a Christmas party, since HQ was getting a posh catered bash with disco and drinks. My other colleague and I (there were 2 of us) paid for a nice lunch out of our own pockets.

      4. nonymous*

        can you suggest activities that are virtual for all participants? I know that even on-location these kind of events can be a time suck and often leave staff in a quandary, as in: late for after school pickup or Friday drinks?

        Also, idk if your company is paying for these events (if they are, definitely inquire about your local portion of the budget!) – but there is nothing to stop you from posting pictures in response to theirs on FB. Coworkers bowling? photoshop yourself in. Seriously, whenever my working group mentions treats or fun activities I try to post picture evidence of me engaging in a similar activity. Inevitably, the chat turns the same kind of discussion it would in-person – was it tasty/silly joke/etc. We have a slack channel that has turned into a work-place appropriate instagram group feed. Way better than the virtual group sing-along that someone posted about yesterday!

      5. AnotherAlison*

        I’m pretty late chiming in here, but in my experience, you may want to count your blessings that you are allowed to stay and work out of the branch office as a lower level employee. I really don’t think not getting invited to the Christmas party is the hill I would want to die on. I would spend my time making sure I forge relationships with the HQ employees and managers in the next year so that I might make the cut for the party. . .but that would be their decision, not me being vocal that it’s not fair.

        Being a remote employee is a tough situation to be in, but for so many other reasons than this. It can be career limiting, etc.

  12. Sue Wilson*

    Eh, I think it’s pretty crappy to not mention to someone that you were essentially changing the structure of invites. Like, it’s just not reasonable to think that if you invited a (2 person) branch one year, they will just KNOW to hook up with another branch or do their own thing this year because they have one more person. And it’s frankly ridiculous to me that a mid-sized company believes 2 more hotel rooms is over the line.

    But it’s not going to get you anything to be obviously upset about it. So I would just ask to formalized the structure of the invites from the top. My company sends out a email with the party dates and branches at each place two to three weeks beforehand, and then RSVPs/calendar invites a week later. No one gets left out (even if it’s clear than some branches just won’t make it by distance alone).

    1. Sue Wilson*

      And it matters because, lbr, the most prominent reason for these parties is morale and cohesiveness. Okay, if they can’t be bothered to check up on everything (again, my firm is mid-sized too with multiple states from all along the east cost to within the Midwest, and yes, small 3 people offices sometimes, and has no problem both keeping up with branches and doing a quick organization), but like “your company cares about you” is like the point.

    2. CMT*

      I can see both sides here. I think it might also be unreasonable for a party planner at HQ to have to keep track of what all of the branch offices are doing each year.

        1. CMT*

          No? If your job is to plan the holiday party for your office, why would you think you have to be on top of the plans for every other office?

        2. Roscoe*

          Not really. If you are responsible for planning the HQ Christmas party, that doesn’t mean you have to coordinate with every single branch. I guess it really depends on the role, but I don’t think its definite.

      1. nonymous*

        I’m not sure I follow. Isn’t the rule “everyone is automatically invited to the HQ party, but BranchSupervisors can opt to arrange local events for their team”? So the HQ still needs a final headcount, and presumably there’s some budget the BranchSupervisor has access to for covering the cost of local events.

        When my hubby’s company grew too big for HQ parties (the local conference venues were too small) they first moved to a nearby city and then they resorted to giving each team some money for their own shindigs (based on headcount). IIRC some groups went out for cheap food and took the difference as a gift card; other groups went drinking on the town.

        1. Sunny*

          No, it’s everyone above X level in the company is invited to party. Branches take care of their own party for lower level employees. Last year, OP’s boss probably asked the EA to make an exception and include her, since there was no one else to have a party with at their location. This year, boss is on maternity leave and no one asked on OP’s behalf. I can see why it stings, but it’s an innocuous oversight.

  13. PinkCupcake*

    OP, I totally understand where you are coming from and it is hard to not feel a bit left out, or less worthy, when something like that happens. I currently work for an organization so large that a company wide holiday party would simply be impossible in terms of logistics alone, much less the expense. So, it is left up to each individual department to have their own. It is a bit disappointing when I see other departments in the same office going to off to enjoy lunch at a nice restaurant and then being sent home to enjoy the afternoon off. My department doesn’t even get a “Happy holidays. Thanks for all your hard work this year” email. While I do feel like they should do something for us, I also think back to all the horrid forced-fun company xmas parties I’ve had to attend over the years. And then, I’m mostly just thankful I don’t have to deal with that nonsense anymore. Not to minimize your concern, but the way I look at it now is at least I’m not being forced to sing carols, play silly embarrassing games, cook a bunch of food for a potluck, or pretend to like a gift that someone else was force-funned into buying. Enjoy your holiday and don’t take it personally!

  14. Is it Friday Yet?*

    I think it is hard not to take this type of thing personally. When a company goes through the effort of putting together a holiday party and really encourages participation and/or attendance, but then they leave out a few people or an entire department, it just makes you feel icky. In my last position, I technically worked for the corporate office. However, I was physically working at multiple properties that were located in another state. There were several of us in this “shared services” type of position, and we really ended up getting screwed on several fronts but definitely on the holiday one. We obviously didn’t get to attend the corporate holiday party and leave early because that was across the country, but we didn’t get to participate in the events at our local branches either. No free turkey, no parties, no leaving early, just sit at your desk and work your normal hours. Then they rub it in your face when you get the emails with photos from holiday parties at various branches around the country.

  15. memyselfandi*

    I was not invited to the Holiday celebration this year, which happened yesterday. The decision was made that each Division would organize their own thing. My five person office (3 staff 2 paid interns) was moved to a new Division a few months ago and we are on a different floor than everyone else. The Division directors staff sent out an e-mail about the plans for our Division and left us off the list. Monday I went upstairs and inquired. Let me tell you, I am not someone that places a high value on holiday celebrations at the office, but I felt really bad. It took me overnight to come back to the place that there is no utility in sulking and make sure my staff was able to join in the celebration which was a potluck lunch. Fortunately one staff member was on vacation and one of the interns, who works through an academically linked program was finished for the semester. So, I don’t wonder that the OP who was invited to a lavish party last year is feeling a little wounded about being totally overlooked this year.

    1. Artemesia*

      I get you. It is the apparently singling out. I still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach 50 years ago when starting my first real job in September we got a Christmas letter from the CEO in December. It was a dense mimeographed affair and was basically a hymn to the wonderfulness of individual employees. There were about 100 of us; he specifically mentioned about 85. Naturally I was skimming along looking for my name and when I got to the end of the last page, I felt like I was the only person who had apparently done nothing worthy. Actually there were a dozen or so left off and they weren’t clearly the office losers — but boy did it feel painful. 50 years ago — I still remember exactly how it felt.

        1. Artemesia*

          He was actually a good boss who later I had reason to really appreciate when he backed me up in a difficult situation where although I was ‘right’ a lesser person might have thrown me under the bus. I think he just ran out of time. At a later meeting he sort of alluded to just mentioning a few people and not meaning to offend — but the problem was that he didn’t say single out a dozen — he left out a dozen. I felt like such a failure and I am sure others did as well.

  16. Central Perk Regular*

    OP, I can understand how this situation can be hurtful. Ive been left out of office celebrations before and even though they arent a big deal to me, it still hurt my feelings.

    My current team is all remote, so we dont have a holiday party or gift exchanges. Our gift is that our boss tells us to take Christmas Eve and NYE off without taking a PTO day – which is better than any company sponsored celebration IMO.

  17. Morning Glory*

    I’ve never worked for a branch office before, but as someone who has worked at a HQ office with branch offices, I personally appreciate the opportunities to meet in person the people I email with the rest of the year.

    There were also times when we semi-formed HQ cliques that were dismissive of and snippy with people from branch offices who violated our HQ office culture in different ways. It’s easier to feel someone’s ‘otherness’ if they’re a name in your inbox and not the woman who made a funny joke at happy hour.

    So sure, I think at this point the whole ‘get over it’ advice is pragmatic and the only real way forward. But as a business practice, I’m with the OP on this one – in particular if they interact with other branches, it would be smart to pay to put them up in a hotel 1 night a year to socialize with the rest of the company.

  18. kb*

    OP, to me it sounds like higher-ups bungled arrangements up this year and it probably wasn’t intentional, which is semi-understandable since it sounds like the workers at your branch aren’t a unified dept. with different bosses (one of whom is out on maternity leave). That being said, I think once attention was brought to y’all not being included in any party, somebody should have made arrangements for at least a small token of appreciation (a lunch, PTO, or gift cards as people suggested above).
    I think the people saying, “Get over it!” are being too harsh. While I dont think you should let this put a damper on your holiday spirit, I understand that it gets lonely and demoralizing being so isolated from coworkers, especially when you know they’re doing fun things. I think it’s important to bring this up to higher-ups so next year even if they can’t swing invites and lodging at the swanky shindig, they can arrange something to show their appreciation.
    Happy Holidays, OP!

  19. Adlib*

    OP, ugh, that kind of thing would be hard for me too, especially with the 180 from the year before.

    I’m in a small branch office of about 7 office workers and a few field techs. The first and 2nd floors are basically completely different departments, but the branch manager is great about including everyone in holiday or office activities and making it feel like a nice place to be. I hope that you can still do something fun this year or maybe have a good plan for next year!

  20. Robbenmel*

    I know I would definitely feel hurt and left out in OP’s situation…not because it is personal (definitely not, in the sense that you personally did something wrong!) but because the entire point of a company celebration, as someone upthread mentioned, is to let employees know that they are appreciated. Clearly, this company gets a failing grade on this one, at least where these two employees are concerned. Especially since OP was welcome last year but everyone’s looking at her and her coworker like they have two heads for asking about it this year…!

  21. Miss Elaine E*

    Just to put a lighter spin on things: I’m a bit jealous of the OP for two reasons —

    1. The OP doesn’t have to go to the corporate holiday party.
    2. The OP likes her company and coworkers enough to be willing to travel six hours to socialize with them.

  22. Imaginary Number*

    If OP and her coworker had never been invited to a Christmas party before this would be a non-issue. They’re three hours away and not senior enough to warrant travel expenses. However, the fact that they were invited the year prior does make it an issue. The right thing would have been to invite them in the first place and say “we don’t have room in our budget for travel expenses this year.”

  23. nonymous*

    I think it’s perfectly legitimate to ask if the company has a budget for holiday parties (either time or $) and what process will it take for their team to tap that budget. For example, my employer does not pay for food, but we can code a certain amount of hours on the clock for holiday parties (so people have to pick which party they go to).

    I get that the OP wanted to network (I personally would be thrilled to skip the event), but it’s probably the acknowledgement and unfairness that stings the most??

  24. Erin*

    Is this party the same one you went to last year, at the CEO’s house, or did the circumstances change slightly? I’m assuming it’s at his house again, that’s in that city with the headquarters.

    I agree with everything Alison said, except the fact that you were invited to this party last year (again, unless I’m reading it wrong and it’s in a different location and things changed). I can see why you’d would expect to be invited to this party again, given that precedent. I think if it were me that’s what would make this feel personal. Otherwise, yeah, it’s probably an oversight you didn’t get included with another branch.

    OP, I’d have a small (very, ha) get together with your one coworker there. Just go get a couple of drinks together or something. And then post on Facebook for your other coworkers to see. “Living it up at the Branch X party over in Town!! (Just kidding. Sort of.)

  25. TootsNYC*

    Whoever is in charge of your branch should have been notified that a certain category/rank of people would not be invited to the big company party, and that person should have been organizing a branch party for you–one that included that person, in fact.

    Even if it was just dinner out, or an extra fancy lunch, for the three or four of you.

    1. doreen*

      I think that may be part of the problem. It seems as though there isn’t a single person in charge of the OPs branch. There’s OP ( whose boss works in a different location), coworker 1 ( whose different boss works in the corporate office) and coworker 2 (who is rarely in the office, further up in the hierarchy and who attends the meetings before the Christmas party – his boss may be a yet another person working out of headquarters). Presumably, the OP and coworker’s respective bosses also manage other people in different locations and I could see how it would never occur to them ask about social events at this location- especially if it’s the only one this small and isolated.

      1. OP*

        You are correct in your summary of who works where. Coworker and I both communicate with our bosses/teams by phone and email, and we have no bosses at our location. Other coworker who is higher up occupies a higher level than we do, but he is not a boss or manager of anyone. And both of our bosses do have teams at the locations they are at.

  26. Huh*

    On this topic, I’d like to ask a question to fellow AAM readers. I’ve been volunteering for a year or so now at a charity organisation. They send volunteer rosters out every 3 months. I didn’t receive the roster which was due in October. I didn’t think much about this because the current volunteer term ended earlier due to xmas, maybe they didn’t need me on shift.

    I then found out (via their FB page) they hosted a volunteer morning tea. I heard nothing about this, and certainly wasn’t invited. Now I’m wondering – was I fired from my volunteer job without anybody telling me? I emailed the volunteer coordinator to ask if there was an oversight regarding the roster as I didn’t receive mine. Normally she replies within a day; this time she hasn’t replied at all.

    I know this is not paid employment but if they have decided to ‘let me go’ I wish they would at least communicate it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You probably fell off the email list some how.

      I’ve had that happen on boards, where you think a small group of people (6-8) everyone would remember to email all the board members, but NOPE. I look at the list of recipients and someone is missing AGAIN!

      A volunteer group I was in had a problem with dropping new members off the email list. This is really bad because how do you retain new members if you have a problem like this? ugh.

      The coordinator may be out of sync because of the holidays. Try one more time maybe after the holidays? Or if you have a friend in the group as your friend what is up.

  27. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I think Alison’s advice is tailored to helping you stay in place and keep working at your job.This stuff will eat you if you let it.

    Personally, I get what you are saying. And it’s little stuff like this that starts people really looking at their job and typically they can find other irritating things that are going on. Not a good road to start down, really.

    I think that a manager should have been assigned to cover your office while your boss is on mat leave. This person would be your connection in the corporate chain so that you guys would not be forgotten. Yes, an advocate but also someone who kept the communication flowing. For example, this temp manager could have told you that there are changes in the wind for this year’s party. The fact that you have no substitute manager worries me. I can just imagine what your boss will be coming back to and her stuff is just piling up. One thing I would do is ask for an acting manager to be assigned to the branch anytime the boss is away for more than a week. Lots of places do this, if the boss is gone for an extended time, even if it is just two weeks of training another manager checks on the place for the absent boss.

    To me it was odd that corporate indicated the problem was lack of space for everyone at the hotel and then suddenly there was space but you had to pay for it. It sounds like they are having their own full set of confusing things.

    And they were annoyed that you asked. Well, if you had an acting manager you could have asked that person.

    Then, you can go if you pay for lodging but you don’t make enough to pay for lodging. Nice, not. These folks could have a bit more awareness, but don’t expect it,that only becomes self-defeating. I remember one instance of a place not sanding an icy parking lot. The statement was made that the employees could buy boots to navigate the treacherous ice. hmmm. The employees did not make enough money to buy boots. Some people as they climb the ladder forget what it is like to live on the lower paying wages.

    I see your interest in the party and your interest in the other people there. Maybe you can get transferred to one of the bigger offices. Maybe you would be interested in openings at the HQ.
    Definitely use this story here as a push to look around and see if you can proactively make some changes of any type.

    1. OP*

      My team does have a lead person that is handling a lot of my boss’ work, but she works several states away, as does my boss. (I have never met my boss or members of my team in person, although we frequently have conference calls and emails). When I told the team lead about it, she was sympathetic but had no ideas or solutions. I don’t think she felt like she had the power to change anything. She and that team were invited to a different big branch party near them.

      I would have to move to work in one of the other offices and I like my hometown. It sucks that I feel forgotten but I wouldn’t want to move.

  28. Catalyst*

    Our company has locations all over the place, the way we do it is that every year a certain region gets invited to the head office Christmas party on a rotating basis. This not only saves on cost but we would have the issue of hotel availability as the head office in a relatively small area. That being said, everyone is aware of this so they are not offended when they aren’t invited each year and each region or location gets a small Christmas dinner or lunch if they are not coming to the main shindig. It is possible that this is what your company is doing but it was not communicated well.
    Also after reading that your boss is on mat leave and does not live there, I agree that it is likely your office not having it’s own little celebration was a case of it falling through the cracks.

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