should I email my complaints to my team when I resign?

A reader writes:

Would it be career suicide to send an email to everyone at my current job explaining why I’m leaving it?

My boss turned out to be a two-faced liar who viciously targeted and drove out several coworkers (while quite a few more left because they couldn’t stomach how others were being treated). I’m still angry at what was done to so many people. She was eventually forced to leave, but still, HR and upper management sat on these problems for over a year! I’m also upset that to many she’s seen as an angel and they think that I’m leaving to show support of her. Should I send a letter to my whole team outlining all of this?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How can I reconcile my view of management with my boss’s?
  • Company won’t reimburse business trip airplane ticket after I resigned
  • Is this employee getting two lunch breaks?
  • Can I tell an employer I really want a higher level position than the one I’m interviewing for?

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. voyager1*

    Do not send the email. Do not say any of that in the exit interview. Don’t assume that the just “sat on” the complaints.

    1. Platypus Enthusiast*

      If OP were thinking about bringing this up in the exit interview, what would be professional phrasing? If this had happened to me, I would have said something like “It felt like employee concerns weren’t being heard/addressed”, but I’m not sure that phrasing is right. I’d never send an email out, but would it be best to just not bring it up during the exit process at all?

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        I think the “never put it in email, don’t say it in exit interviews, don’t say anything” folks are being too risk-averse. Yes, there are risks to being honest about why you’re leaving. But you can express even very negative things very professionally, and there’s tremendous value to doing so (I can’t count the number of problems I’ve seen at organizations where leadership sits on issues because they are either out-of-touch enough to not even realize there’s a problem, or the lack of complaints gives them cover to pretend like they’re minor problems that don’t need solving).

        It’s a calculation everyone needs to make for themselves, as far as how much they’re willing to risk burning a bridge. But if you say nothing, you’re providing cover for those bad practices to continue.

        1. Mr. X*

          The issue with exit interviews is that the vast, vast majority of people just say everything is fine to get the interview over with. People who tell the truth in situations like this nearly always get labeled as being an outlier rather than an actual statistical sample of how things actually are. Nothing changes and that person has damaged their professional reputation, sometimes without even realizing it. To me the best strategy is just not do an exit interview at all. What are they going to do, fire you?

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            I had a boss get demoted and then fired based on my exit interview. But he had broken a series of major rules before I gave in and quit (discrimination, violating safety policies, blocking staff from filing CPS reports) and I had good documentation.

          2. Leela*

            I also think that a lot of people give up on the exit interview because most of them have brought forth the issues and saw no traction on them when they were an employee, so why risk the damage to your reputation/references? It’s really unfortunate but it’s on the company if they show that they don’t take feedback seriously. And I do mean SHOW, a lot of places won’t tell anyone that their concerns are being address (and to be fair, sometimes you can’t…you can’t just say “we put your boss on a PIP” for example), but even if you’re doing things in the background, all people have to go on is what they see. And if they see that nothing is being done, they’re not going to try and fix it on their way out the door!

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Yeah, usually you leave because you can see they don’t act on feedback or take it seriously. If that’s the reason you’re leaving, telling them that as you leave doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly listen to your feedback as an ex-employee.

          3. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

            Yeah…my theory is that complaints against managers and company leadership should be regarded in a similar way to sexual assult/harassment accusations – any complaints you hear are likely just the tip of the iceberg, rather than isolated experiences in themselves, and warrant further investigation. I feel like some people assume that just because a handful of people said it, they are the only ones who experience it. But really, they are the only ones who were brave enough to say anything because there are significant downsides to doing so.

        2. Czhorat*

          It’s not only risk-aversion, it’s risk-to-reward ratio.

          The risk includes hurting your professional reputation, losing out on a potential reference, or issues if one of the recipients of your parting shot ends up in a position of power over you – either as a boss, an important client, or some other role.

          The reward is almost nothing; perhaps a fleeting feeling of satisfaction, but you can’t eat feelings of satisfaction.

          1. noahwynn*

            Yup! This is what I was going to say too. There is zero reward for me to speak up in an exit interview. I made complaints while I was an employee about the environment and now I’ve found a new job. Also, the turnover rate was ridiculous with the entire management team leaving in less than six months. Leadership should be able to figure out what is wrong from that.

        3. pleaset*

          I want to add that whether in mass emails or in-person, speaking the truth in a way that is like a harsh/blunt executive memo can work well. Point out the company not living up to its strategy and values. Point out that the company is facing huge risk and you’re not satisfied at the pace of change or the resources allocated to solve it.

          Rants that “X is a dick” look bad. Rants that “the company says Y but just can’t do it” look more thoughtful and less personal. They make the writer look like someone who cares about results in the world and is pissed she can’t achieve them.

        4. Junior Assistant Peon*

          As long as you phrase everything professionally, you should have nothing to worry about unless you’re dealing with someone really petty and vindictive.

        5. Imakesigns*

          Agree! I was in a situation where I was moving to a different division of a company and was leaving a very toxic manager (the latest in around 40% of her team that had left in the last year or so). I requested an exit interview where I was very (professionally) candid with my feedback to HR. They were actually very receptive to the conversation, and referenced how they saw a pattern with the exit interviews from others that had left my group and were going to do some further digging. Fast forward a few months and toxic manager no longer had any employees and was an individual contributor (which was for a number of reasons I’m sure). I continued to work within my new division (with somewhat close ties to the old one) and didn’t receive any blow back. It all depends on the organization and how it is handled by both parties (HR and employee) in my opinion.

        6. G*

          I agree. I respect those who don’t want to run the risk, but that’s not how I go about things. I believe we all need to do what we can to make this world better for each other, and that includes speaking up when there is a perceived issue. I certainly won’t martyr myself, but I’ve been extremely honest in all of my exit interviews, even in regards to hot button issues. It’s actually served me well, not only have I had the benefit of watching the (no matter how small) impact my words had on creating change for my colleagues who were staying – but over the years it’s led to opportunities. I gained a reputation for not being afraid to tackle bigger issues, and for putting the betterment of the team ahead of myself as one individual. That is the sole reason I got the opportunity to switch to a career where I actually get paid to identify, and resolve, overarching work environment stressers/negatives.

          1. Imakesigns*

            Great point about trying to make things better for colleagues who are staying. That was one of my main motivators in being honest in the exit interview I mentioned above – that the team I was leaving behind deserved better. Also agree that addressing issues professionally and candidly can improve your reputation because a lot of people are not willing to do that, and good leaders will respect you for it if it’s done the right way.

      2. RC Rascal*

        I would say, “ the delay is handling the issues related to Jane, coupled with how Bob & Sally were treated , changed how I feel about the company. I chose to explore other opportunities and found a position where I will be able to grow my career and grow my skills.” Statement is professional but goes straight to the underlying morale issue. It also corrals the negative sentiment by framing with your personal choices & goals.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          This is a really good way to phrase it. Instead of focusing on assumptions of what HR was doing or not doing, it focuses on the way staff felt during the time between the complaint and the action.

        2. Platypus Enthusiast*

          This is really helpful! I knew that the phrasing I suggested was too vague, but if I was in this situation, I would want to bring up valid criticisms without sounding petty or accusatory.

          1. voyager1*

            Change the word “delay” to “timeframe.”

            The word delay will imply that there was a deliberate reason for why annoying lady wasn’t fired. Timeframe doesn’t have that implied baggage in its meaning.

            But I am still not a fan of saying anything.

      3. Annie Porter*

        I’d maybe take the risk of clarifying why I’m leaving, even if it’s just a generic “better opportunity/couldn’t turn down this opportunity” — the LW said they think she’s leaving specifically because Bad Manager left. I would want to correct this point.

    2. ErinFromAccounting*

      I think it’s fine to explain why you’re leaving in an exit interview, just not in such an inflammatory way. Something about how you weren’t satisfied with how long it took for employee concerns to be addressed, not “My boss was a two-faced liar and upper management didn’t do anything about it for a year.”

      I definitely agree that a bitter email is only going to make the sender look bad.

    3. Triplestep*

      I was given an exit interview “form” to fill out and I did not end up submitting it. I tried to come up with something to describe why my petty, vindictive, scorekeeping, habitual liar of a boss should not be managing people. I felt I owed it to the people who came after me since I was the third person to leave in two years. And had not met the other two – I left in just over a year. Her staff is only two people! But I could not come up with something that didn’t make me sound as petty as she is. I realized I’d be shooting myself in the foot.

      They kept sending me that form months after I’d left which I fantasized was their way of trying to coax me into saying something, but I could never come up with something that wasn’t paragraphs and paragraphs long.

      1. JayNay*

        I so feel you on this. I’ve worked on a five-person team where after three years, not a single one of the original team members remained.
        But you know what – that company has a team that keeps losing people, and that alone should be a big red flag to check what’s going on there. If a one page survey (not even an in-person conversation!) is all they can come up with, that doesn’t make it look like they’re taking this seriously anyway. So unfortunately, I don’t think anything you could’ve written or expressed would have changed very much at all.

        1. Leela*

          It’s true, I’ve worked in HR. Unfortunately a lot of the time the company just wants to check “made HR do the exit interview” off of their to-dos so they can say they did it, and they don’t empower the people who could change the underlying issues to do so.

      2. TardyTardis*

        I had a boss who kept having the number of employees reduced, and that one rotating about every year and a half, when both her and the employee realized that the employee was unable to read her mind (but she got one who could about a year before she retired, go figure).

    4. Door Guy*

      I was specifically instructed by my manager to be as brutally honest as possible in my exit interviews. There was a slight difference in that situation as upper management was specifically trying to figure out why people were leaving practically en-mass from multiple locations, and not just regular employees, but supervisor/managers. My paired offices lost 3 including myself in under 3 months, 2 of us in 1 week, and the neighboring office lost 1, the other office in our state lost 1, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

      I was as honest as I was able and only brought up the BIG points, not the little things, while talking to the VP of the company and the Regional Manager for the Midwest, but it felt like it was going in one ear and out the other – that I was just complaining. At one point they asked me why I didn’t just [do thing that we were specifically told not to do AND wasn’t feasible due to load capacity]? Made me realize how out of touch they were with what was going on and the issues that were coming up.

      I kept in touch with a few of my old coworkers and it doesn’t sound like they took anything we said in those interviews to heart. They got a couple of suckers to sign up and take our spots, paid them less money than they were paying us (I spoke with one of them, he bragged about negotiating his salary up, and he was below where my counterpart who also left started at just 6 months prior) and from everything I’ve heard they are running them just as ragged with no support.

      1. Veronica*

        One thing a person could do in this situation, if you don’t mind the risk, is when they are clearly out of touch:

        Managers: Why didn’t you do this thing that you were told not to do and would have caused huge problems?
        Employee: I was instructed not to do that and it would have caused these specific problems.

        Then see if they realize how out of touch they are. If not, say “See this is one of the things happening. Management being out of touch is very discouraging to employees.”

        Something like that…

        1. Door Guy*

          I did tell them that we were told not to, got brushed off. We were a rural office where you could be 2 hours from your closest coworker, both of these men came from big city offices where you were never more than 15 minutes away from another tech.

          The specific situation for this was I was telling them that one of the reasons I was leaving was having to drive 3 hours 1 way to help mount a TV on a wall and they asked why didn’t we just have one of the closer techs do it instead. They weren’t supposed to because they (the closer techs) weren’t certified by that specific client to do any work for them, we were told not to send 2 techs but always 1 tech and 1 supervisor on team lift jobs so they didn’t have to split the already pitiful wage between 2 techs (supervisors were salary, job only paid $27), and finally, the biggest reason, a 65″ TV doesn’t fit in our techs trucks, I had to bring out a van we had removed the racks from so that we could even deliver the dang TV in the first place.

          These guys didn’t care. The month prior they had told us they didn’t care if the tech had to drive 4 hours in a blizzard they were putting the job in.

    5. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      The exit interview wouldn’t be an inappropriate time to say it, though it would likely be ineffective and piss them off.

    6. Rosebud*

      Agreed. Someone left my team left recently – they were not getting promoted as fast as they wanted. Everyone else on the team understood exactly why (they were not very good at the work they were doing, so why go higher?)

      After they left, they sent a whole-office email that started normal and then went on specifically to thank the people in the office who had made this person’s like harder, as it taught them resilience and perseverance. It continued in that vein for another whole paragraph.

      Needless to say, that was the only thing that got talked about for at least a week. Even now, if someone fears that they are behaving in a way that is a little entitled or unnecessarily dramatic, they mention that they don’t want to act like the second coming of that person.

  2. Zap R.*

    Okay, I have been the target of one of these emails and it sucks because A) if the person who wrote it had just talked to me, everything would have been fine and B) the writer had made a bunch of assumptions about the internal workings of the business that were not true.

    I know this is an archived letter but OP, wherever you are, I really hope you didn’t do this.

      1. Zap R.*

        My boss and grandboss called to say they believed me and that this employee was way out of line but it was enough to make me leave management forever.

        1. Milli*

          This happened recently to a colleague of mine and it’s a really crappy situation. Management is standing behind her, but she seems quite disillusioned by the whole thing. I don’t know how much the employee communicated with her before it went down, but I wish there had been a way to resolve it differently

  3. Dagny*

    Do not send the email.

    If you like the members of your team, offer to keep in touch and, if you have direct reports, be a reference for them “in any future job searching.”

    If it comes to your attention that people (who are these people?) think you are leaving to show support for Evil Boss, just say something like, “I am upset by how (forced out employees) were treated.”

  4. Buttons*

    #2 I often find when people have that attitude/view it is because they don’t have the big picture. Their view, at their level, is preventing them from seeing something their leader or the higher leaders know or see. That could be caused from a combination of things- may be the leaders aren’t doing a good job at connecting that for the team, or maybe the person is unable to think bigger.
    My recommendation is to ask for that connection. “Boss, can you explain to me how this decision was made?” “Can you tell me if these things were considered?” “Can you help me formulate a change management process for getting the team on board with these new policies?”
    You may not get the level of detail you want about why or how these decisions were made, but maybe your boss will be able to help get some buy-in and acceptance.

    1. Lora*

      The real problem for OP is when she is tasked with somehow making the natural sequelae of a bad policy not happen. If senior management has a new policy that all employees must take a 50% pay cut, they don’t get to also punish the junior managers when people quit in droves, or charge OP with the task of “make people enjoy working far below market rate”.

      You’re definitely right about the bigger picture though. Sometimes the goal IS to get people to quit, or make them exceptionally miserable. Have seen companies relocate offices and entire facilities, cut bonus programs, cut benefits packages, implement draconian monitoring programs and force employees to use broken software with no support, all in an effort to get people to quit so they wouldn’t have to do yet another reportable layoff with severance payouts.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*


        And yet another way in which bad employers can be like bad romantic partners. “I don’t want to break up with you, so I’ll just be a jerk until you break up with me.”

        1. Door Guy*

          We speculated on this a lot at last job – not specifically with our bosses/company, but with our primary contract. They were bought out and the new company changed things A LOT in a little over 1 year – cut the rates they were paying us, forced us to stop collecting payment for additional expenses incurred, forced a system designed for a different product with wildly different parameters that would completely lock up and could actually BREAK a customer’s account to the point that the only option they gave us was cancel the account and sign them up for a new one, and inventory issues, oh the inventory issues. We were no longer able to order equipment, we just got randomly shipped things. Instead of “We get our delivery on Monday between 9 and 12” it turned into “We get trucks literally any time between 7am and 4pm, Monday through Friday with no notice, and they will have anything and nothing on them.”

          On a more upper level, they adjusted all the metrics we were supposed to meet upwards, while redefining what exactly qualified as “breach of contract”. We had to jump through so many insane hoops and do so many customer un-friendly things just to keep metrics out of the red. When I first started, it was seen as a failure of the office if you had to reschedule any customers. When I left, they were sending lists of them off to dispatch to be rescheduled twice a day because we just couldn’t cover everything. The worst was “false availability” – we had to show a certain level of availability (by region) and one worker taking vacation, or one bad storm, or even just a few too many customers calling in service calls would wreck it. We had to leave people who were on vacation open to build work – work that they obviously weren’t going to cover since vacation – and then try and find room in the schedule. We also did that with our other contracts – the tech running on them was building work in the primary system even though they were going to be running on other contract work that day. The worst was what were referred to as “dummy techs” – people on the schedule board who didn’t even work for us. People who had left employment used to get removed, now they were left on the schedule to “show availability” and you’d have to go through and try and reassign all the work off of them.

          I am 100% positive that they were trying to force us to either breach the contract, or use our poor numbers to negotiate an even worse contract (for us) next time.

  5. Jedi Squirrel*

    OP#1: Take a long weekend. Write it all out on paper. Then have a campfire and throw the paper in it. You will feel better.

    OP#4: I get where you are coming from. I often run company errands on my one-hour lunch, and I feel like I should get an extra long lunch to make up for it, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’ve eaten an entire lunch in five minutes or skipped eating entirely so I could be back before my 60 minutes are up.

    That said, as long as their productivity isn’t suffering, and they’re not holding others’ work up, just let it go. If the work is getting done, they’re fine.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Hold up…if you are running the company’s errands that is work time not lunch time and should be paid.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yeah, I know it mentally. But emotionally, I’m fairly old school about being on time. It’s a weird glitch within myself.

        That said, I shouldn’t let that glitch affect how I view others’ behavior. If OP has the same glitch, they need to let it go.

        1. ArtK*

          There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be on time. What’s wrong is that you’re running company errands on your time. Take your 60 minutes for lunch and then run the company’s errands. The assumption that you need to do the company’s work during the 60 minutes you’re not in the office is what is out of whack here.

          1. Antilles*

            Especially given the level of effort here. If you’re already out and swinging by the post office dropbox because it’s 2 minutes out of your way, fine, whatever. But doing so much company-related that you’re “skipping lunch entirely” or “eating an entire lunch in 5 minutes”? 100% not okay.
            If you want to view it as being on time, then the answer is “60 minutes of lunch time is 60 minutes of lunch time”. Whether or not you spend 30 minutes running company-related errands afterwards does not affect whether your lunch break is 30 minutes.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I have similar hangups. I generally tell people in the office when I’m leaving for lunch, just so there’s at least someone here who knows I’m out of the building in case someone comes looking for me. But in the last few months, I’ve started saying “I have to go pick up the supplies for the X program and then I’m going to have lunch. I’ll be back around (time).” It helps me to remember that coming back to work an hour after I finish the errand actually IS on time.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          People aren’t commenting about your timeliness. They’re commenting about how you’re giving your labor to your employer for free. Please don’t do that! Maybe you can make a *separate trip* to run company errands? Would that feel better to you? (Also: if you’re using your car, are you getting expenses for that?)

          1. Andream*

            Or like one of the other commenters said, Run the errands and THEN go on lunch. So if it takes 30 minutes to run errands leave at 11:30 and be back at 1. 11:30 -12 COMPANY TIME (Errands) 12-1 LUNCHTIME. Unless, of course, you are salaried, because I think as long as work is done it doesn’t matter what time you do stuff.

      2. Sparrow*

        Very much agreed. You SHOULD get a lunch (or at least enough time to eat at a reasonable pace) when you return if you’re actually doing work errands during that hour.

        1. Jamie*

          Absolutely. Lunch is for more than wolfing down food, it’s a break you’re entitled to. If I have to have meetings over lunch time and we’re providing the food I always insist attendees take their lunch break once it’s over.

          This was not something they were used to and it inadvertently garnered me some good will when I was new.

      3. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. If I run over to Staples and it just happens to be at my lunch hour I might combine both to save me the gas, but the time it takes to handle the transaction at Staples is work time.

        Similarly sometimes I need to run to the bank or post office or take a call of a personal nature and I’ll do that in my car but bring back take out for lunch. Then I’ll spend that time checking emails or dialing into a call, which makes it productive but “don’t have to talk to anyone” time.

        FWIW, we are required to provide lunch if we have a meeting or training that crosses into a standard lunch hour. Lunchtime meetings are also discouraged, so they are infrequent.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Ha, I had a boss who took her lunch early, and constantly assigned me work that *had* to be done on my lunch hour Because Emergency, and I got busted if I took a late lunch. One reason I am no longer working for her.

  6. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    A former colleague, who I’ll call Fergus, actually did send an email like OP#1 describes right as he was leaving on his last day . It basically went something like “It’s been great working with all of you. As you may know, I am a very experienced professional with a lot of degrees and certifications, and I am leaving because I was disrespected by Wakeen.” While what he said wasn’t false (though definitely open to interpretation), he probably thought he was going to get our grandboss fired, and instead it just made everyone at my job think he was a bitter nutcase. Fergus even texted me a few months later asking me why no one stayed in touch with him, and he was surprised his email backfired so spectacularly. The best part is that he stayed in the same field, so I occasionally see him in our building for meetings, and he always looks pretty uncomfortable.

    1. pleaset*

      I think the only instance where sending a nasty message works with when many people inside and outside the company know that company is terrible, and there might be benefit to being known as someone who spoke up to a bully.

      My wife did that, not in email, but in talking, when she walked out of a job. HR and management was being petty and vindictive, and she had a new job lined up, so she just launched a little rant that everyone else wanted to say but were unable too. Many people there jumped ship over the next few year and remain in her network and viewed her as a bit of a badass (in a good way). Doing it in email is a bit riskier in that it can be quoted out of context, etc.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        Definitely. Another part of the reason people didn’t take Fergus seriously is that in the few years he worked here, he would describe himself as a rockstar, and he definitely met his deliverables, but a lot of people felt disrespected by him. Some examples include:

        1. We had only one employee, Lucinda, who knew how to do a certain task on a project with a deadline. Lucinda’s father passed away and she was out for 2 weeks on bereavement leave. When Lucinda came back to work, the first thing Fergus asked her was when she would finish her task, and he didn’t even ask her how she and her family were doing.
        2. He disliked my manager, Jane, and while talking with another employee, Sally, he told Sally that he was sick of Jane catering to minorities. Sally is a black woman.
        3. We had a new employee, Alice, assigned to one of Fergus’s projects. She wasn’t very technically savvy and took a while to catch on to things, so Fergus would yell at her about how incompetent she was until she burst into tears. This happened daily until she went back to her old job.

        So naturally, when Fergus complained about someone else disrespecting him, no one really felt sorry for him.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          Yeah, I’m thinking the reason no-one stayed in touch with Fergus after he left was because he was a jerkass, not because he sent a scathing exit email!

      2. Antilles*

        To be honest, even in that case I’m still not sure it’s particularly worthwhile.
        If they’re really known to be horrific demons, it won’t hurt you to call it out…but it’s also not likely to really help anyone either – you’ll just get a lot of sad head shakes of “sigh, typical EvilCorp, that sounds right in line with everything else I’ve heard about those scumbags”.

        1. pleaset*

          I think being known as brave is a good thing. People thinking “I wish I had the stuff to say that” about your is cool.

      3. HM MM*

        Yeah – I would definitely NOT recommend putting anything in writing. However, I did tell a select few (very gossipy) co-workers about the extremely manipulative and unethical things my manager did, that resulted in my essential firing.

        Even that was a bit risky because everyone thought that manager was the sweetest, kindest person and I’m sure some people didn’t believe the story or thought I was just bitter/angry/crazy. I thought it was important to spread the word though so that when the manager behaved similarly with future reports maybe they would be believed since it wouldn’t be the first time hearing that kind of story.

        The next two people in the role lasted less than a year, then the manager was demoted to a non-managerial role, so I like to think I was vindicated in the end.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I once had a former coworker email blast the entire 10,000+ person company her goodbye email. She sent it at noon when she knew most of the higher ups and IT people were at lunch so enough copies were read that everyone eventually read it.
      She essentially called the founder of the company a wonderful visionary, the son (and current chairman) a pompous prick who valued patents over people, the grandson a halfway decent guy who needs to get his head out of his ass to save the company, and then went in on her management team and how a lot of long-term employees with pensions about to hit 100% vesting were suddenly shown the door within days of that mark saving the company millions of dollars.

      1. it's me*

        I had a similar situation — my first job out of college, the president of the company was a nutter, and people who weren’t pushovers eventually left (for our department, it seemed naive or timid people were sought out — lesson learned), including a woman in my department who quit but not before sending an email out to the entire company eloquently and accurately describing what a nut the president was. IT ran around frantically trying to delete the email from everyone’s inboxes, but a lot of us had already printed it out :D

        Yada yada yada some time later I was fired for insubordination.

      2. Aquawoman*

        Pensions vest in 7 years or less (and if it’s >5, there has to be graduated vesting, so right before you’re 100% vested, you’re 80% vested).

        1. fposte*

          Maybe it wasn’t vesting but the service date eligibility? So they got the matched lump sum back but the company didn’t have to pay out the actual pension, which is overall much more expensive.

          1. doreen*

            Nope, with a defined benefit plan vesting means you are eligible for a pension at some future date. I became fully vested in my pension with 5 years of service ( it was cliff vesting, which means at 4 yrs 11 months I would have just gotten my contributions back). If I left with 5 years of service at age 25, I would have received a pension payment when I turned 65 – that’s why you will sometimes hear about people with tiny pensions. In my system, 5 years of service with the $25K salary I had at age 25 salary would have gotten me $2200 a year at 65.
            Either the CupcakeCounter’s coworker considered long-term employees to be those with 5-7 years of service ,or it was a long time ago , when it could take longer than 7 years to fully vest. This lawsuit was eventually settled for $415 million.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        That last sentence takes this from a petty exit email to an actually important whistle-blowing that I would be glad she sent out if it’s true!! That is sketchy and should definitely be talked about!

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed, the goodbye email that torch’s things on your way out the door is never a good look. If you just have to send a goodbye email keep it light and positive.

      1. Mama Bear*

        IMO, you never know who you will need to lean on later. A decade after I left a job because of a bad manager, I am working with some of the same people. SO GLAD I just said good bye and not “good riddance” on my last day.

        1. A Reader*

          Agreed! I read once (and I think it was here) that people have a habit of popping up where you least expect them to in your career. It’s so true.

    4. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      OP1, I worked with someone who once sent out one of those scorched earth emails when she was leaving. It was after her manager had let her take a planned 1-week vacation in the last month of her employment as part of her package too (this was negotiated by the line manager as a favor, the company itself otherwise would have said you can leave and stop collecting a paycheck after this week and lose 2 further weeks’ working pay, and we’ll pay out your unused vacation tomorrow.). Any valid complaints she may have had got totally cancelled out by the fact that she bulk emailed all of HR, high up managers in multiple locations, and some peers. It came off as unhinged and bad judgment, even to people who the day before would have thought she was competent or at least fine-ish to work with most of the time. An email like this is the best way to ensure no one ever addresses anything you mention.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve got an acquaintance who did something similar. He worked in a big company with branches all over the US, but the branch where he worked was seriously dysfunctional. As his “goodbye” email on his last day, he sent out a page long rant about all the things that were wrong with the branch. He wasn’t wrong, but management did not take it well. A few years later he moved to a different state and had trouble finding a job, so he applied with that state’s branch of his former company, only to find out he had been put on the Do Not Rehire list after he sent that resignation email. The bridge wasn’t just burned, it was well and truly exploded.

      If you can find reasonable ways to bring up workplace difficulties in an exit interview, that’s not a bad idea. But sending out an email full of complaints to your coworkers, who presumably are already aware of those difficulties, is just going to burn a bridge that you can’t be sure you might not need again someday.

      1. G*

        Ruh rohhhh. Ya I don’t see how that could end well. I have always been extremely honest in my exit interviews, including the negatives and driving factors for leaving (and especially if it’s something impacting ppl that aren’t leaving) – but I always do so with constructive input. Either a recommended solution, or additional context. It’s served me well, and I have yet to burn a bridge as a result.

    6. HollyWeird*

      At my org, we had an employee send out a three page single spaced memo calling out people for various wrongdoings including things that happened years ago that were previously unmentioned. A lot of speculation was in there about other people’s workloads versus her own, but also some things were rather petty such as someone not saying greeting her in the morning two years ago. Anyways, while I’m sure it felt good for her to write it at the time it really damaged her image and hurt the feelings of those who were named in the memo more than it created any sort of change.

  7. hbc*

    OP5: As someone who has often moved people up in title, responsibility and pay very quickly, I still would be leery of hiring someone who made any indication that they were already trying to move up. 1) There have to be the right set of circumstances to do it, some of which are beyond my control. So I can’t go into it knowing you’ve already set a ticking clock. 2) There is a high correlation between the clock-setters and underwhelming performance. They always claim it’s because they’re bored, and maybe that’s true, but I can’t exactly justify a promotion based on mediocrity.

    You can ask about opportunities for growth within that position, maybe what a typical career path looks like in the company, but nothing that indicates impatience.

    1. sofar*

      Yep, the “ticking clock” thing is so apt. Like, am I going to half to spend half my time managing this employee’s expectations? It also can suggest you are gunning for your nw manager’s job. I recently interviewed a candidate with barely two years of experience who said she wanted to move “quickly as possible” into MY current role (which she already knew I’d just been promoted into and that there was only one such position on the team).

      She was a great applicant on all other counts, but nope.

  8. Cookie Monster*

    Oh, I hope LW3 got that money back. Because really, they should have been paying for her flights AND all her other travel expenses. They got a pretty sweet deal only paying for flights – it’s a deal LW should have never agreed to (maybe this was a non-profit with a small budget or something, but still).

    1. CmdrShepard4ever*

      My reading was that it was OP who needed/wanted to go remote. OP was with the company for 2 1/2 years, but only remote for the last 6 months. So in order to agree to let OP work remote the company agreed that she would have to foot the bill of all other expenses when traveling back to the office. I don’t think that is an unreasonable deal. The company hired OP locally to work locally, when OP wanted to work remote they made the calculation that OP was worth the cost of flights, but not an entire expense trip (lodging, meals, etc…) so they were prepared to let OP go and hire someone locally again so that the company didn’t have to pay any travel costs.

      The company agreed to pay for flights, and they should do so.

      1. G*

        Ya, this is not that uncommon of an arrangement. Not ideal, but it’s a compromise. Not all companies can afford, or are willing to fund, remote positions they could otherwise fill in house – and ultimately everyone is replaceable. I’d venture to guess that most ppl looking to make a in house position 100% remote, would prefer to compromise over not having the option at all.

      2. Lauren*

        It sounds more like this flight went over the minimum for them to pay for it outright, so because it was special and needed further approval – they had OP purchase it to be reimbursed later. This is bizarre, but at least OP likely can still get it changed by talking to the airline on twitter. They will likely convert it to be a credit though to be used within 1 year. Tweet vs. call – social team has higher leeway than the call centers do to make customers happy.

  9. Reality Check*

    #4, I eat at my desk and use my lunch hour for brisk walking. I am MORE productive this way. The lunchtime walking gets my blood pumping, and I am far more alert and clear-headed in the afternoon. No more 2 O’Clock drowsiness!

    1. Bree*

      Doing something else on your lunch break and then eating at your desk while working has been incredibly common at every (office, salaried) job I’ve ever worked. I was so confused to even see the question!

      1. A Reader*

        I was confused, too! The only way I could see it’s an issue is if the employees are ONLY eating their lunch at their desks and not working at all, so the hour-long lunch becomes an hour and 20 minutes+. But if they’re typing with one hand and holding a sandwich with the other, then what’s the problem?

      1. M*

        Seriously! This person sounds like a nitpicky busibody. OP#4: spend less time policing other people’s time, lest we read a letter about the weird, rigid co-worker who is obsessed with someone’s daily routines.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      Me too! I got a membership at a gym near the office and go do my strength training and speed work on my lunch breaks. I’ve gotten so used to it that this week, which I am taking off to recover from a half marathon, I’ve been at a complete loss of how to spend my lunch hour. You can only go grocery shopping so many times.

      1. My Brain Is Exploding*

        Perfect for framing: ” Lunch is not about food. Lunch is about freedom and self-determination.”

  10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Yeah…do not email that. Talk to your work friends after you’ve exited the place so you have a more clear head than the heat you’re feeling rising in your body at this very turbulent time!

    I got together with my crew after my exit from Toxic Job wrapped up. They had even more dirt to spill but they felt a million times better that they were now talking to someone who had escaped. I was able to help them also craft their exit plans, since they could now open up to me. Don’t take advantage of people just being your soundboard, it’s much better to do this kind of stuff one on one if you want to go that route! It’s unfair to bomb someone’s email account with your feelings, even if it’s justified and you’re trying to warn them. They deserve better. Think of it that way!

  11. Jamie*

    For anyone thinking of micromanaging lunches like in the letter I can tell you it’s a really good way to get high performers to nickel and dime their time right back and become disenchanted enough to look elsewhere.

    I usually eat at my desk working through lunch. On occasion I run an errand at lunch and eat when I get back. Even if I did that every day I’d resent it so much if my boss was monitoring what and when I ate at my desk. Getting up to get coffee a couple of times would be more or less the equivalent of heating up lunch…is that going to be monitored, too? What about the bagel I brought in in the morning to eat while I checked email and workflow?

    If productivity is an issue then address that.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I couldn’t agree more. The productivity is the thing OP needs to be concerned about, not how adults are managing their time at work.

    2. Blueberry*

      Yes, this.

      I wonder if it seems “wrong” because the lunch is not being eaten during the Designated Lunch Time? But the thing about rules is that they’re for making things better/more organized for people; people don’t exist to follow rules. I wonder if reframing the lunch break as a Break more than as a Lunch would be helpful in figuring out whether or not there’s an actual productivity issue.

    3. mf*

      Yes, this. Employees are human beings. Sometimes they need to eat while they work. Sometimes they need to use the restroom, get a cup of coffee, get up and stretch their legs for a bit. Those normal, every day needs are hardly any different than eating a sandwich at your desk.

      Besides, if an employee is not productive, the cause is probably not that they are eating at their desk. There are probably larger issues with the employee’s skills, knowledge, or motivation. Focus on that instead.

    4. TurquoiseCow*

      I’ve worked with a bunch of people who ate at their desk and used their lunch time to go for a walk or run errands or whatever, and while some of them certainly seemed to extend their lunch and be less productive while eating, most of them were fine, and it’s such a common practice that it would be really odd and out of touch for management to have a problem with it.

  12. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    At one of my first professional jobs, in my 20’s, I quit a job that had 2 toxic horrible miserable co-bosses. I liked the actual job duties but couldn’t stand those bosses, no one could. They made life miserable for all of us there. On my last day, right after leaving my office, I went upstairs to the office of my bosses’ boss, and gave him a handwritten tell-all scathing letter about the 2 toxic bosses (both of whom he oversaw) and all of their miserable deeds and horrible character traits. I didn’t wait for him to read it, just handed him the letter, turned around, and walked out. I knew I’d never work in that company again so I didn’t care how it looked, and I have no idea if anything came of it or if anything happened to the 2 toxic bosses. I was young and naive but man did it feel great. Still to date one of the most satisfying work experiences I’ve ever had.

    1. WellRed*

      That’s awesome. It’s something that’s a bit easier in your 20s, with less at stake and that strong sense of injustice that life eventually beats out of most of us. Thanks for sharing!

    2. juliebulie*

      At my exit interview, I was the third person to complain about our boss. Not long afterward, he was demoted.

      I just wish they hadn’t waited for three people to quit first. It would have been nice to continue working there.

  13. Amethystmoon*

    Regarding #4, it’s possible they’re attending a Toastmaster club that meets at lunchtime, or something along those lines (though such clubs usually encourage people to bring their lunches, but maybe they’re meeting someplace where food isn’t allowed). Policies depend on workplaces. Ours is nice enough that if you attend one of the on-site clubs, they count it as a work meeting and you don’t have to give up your lunch break. Not all companies are nice enough to do that, however. There are of course other reasons, but the employee may actually be trying to improve as a professional.

  14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    It’s not an extra lunch break if they’re working and are happily accepting interruptions while they’re munching away.

    If they were taking that extra time in the breakroom that would be two lunch breaks. Take “lunch” out of it and think of it as “lunch-time” break, so they are away without any duties for that hour. Then they simply multi-task when they are in the office.

    We all snack throughout the day, despite taking a designated lunch break. If you come at me for this, you will be looked at like you have three heads. I will also find another place to work if you’re the boss because that’s so unfortunate that you dwell on this kind of thing. It screams ‘I don’t trust my employees! Despite them doing their work and being productive, I’m thinking of all the little ways someone “might” “screw the company over” and all that nonsense. Just stop this line of thinking!

  15. it's me*

    My grandboss goes to the gym for his lunch hour and brings back lunch, which he eats at his desk. It’s never struck me as an issue.

  16. Rainbow Roses*

    #1 Like others said, don’t do it. This person is gone. Perhaps the company will become a wonderful place to work now that she’s gone and HR/management have learned from this experience. You never know if you may need to go back to your former job for any reason.

  17. Markus Oh Really?*

    At my job, recently there was an employee who quit after a rather short and tumultuous tenure. Upon leaving they sent not one but TWO different emails, one intended for all staff, and one for senior management. In both, he attempted to portray himself as a victim who was only trying to do the right thing, but instead came off as a condescending blow-hard who bailed when he didn’t get everything he wanted. It was a shame because in the letter were some very hard truths that needed to be said. Unfortunately all of that was lost under the complete lack of professionalism (not to mention sending it to all employees, many of whom had no idea who he was or what he was referencing.) I’d also add that once you quit, right or wrong, you lose much of the standing you had to say any of these things; complaints from active employees carry much more weight, as an employee who quit can easily be dismissed as disgruntled. Bottom line, there are so, so, so, so, so many ways this can backfire, and very few ways it can be helpful (either to you or the company) that it’s best to just avoid it altogether.

    1. G*

      Right? I think the advice should have ended at “if it’s not impacting overall output, let it go”. It shouldn’t even matter if they are slightly less productive while in the physical act of eating, so long as the overall outcome is the same. My first thought is what about people who snack throughout the day versus eating larger meals? Are they considered less productive because they technically type slower with a cracker in hand?

      People’s relationships with food and eating is private, and I’d be extremely wary of any employer that thinks they have the right to insert themselves in that part of my life (with exceptions of course, like no fish in microwave). What people do in their time ‘off the clock’ is also private, and the employer shouldn’t expect to be able to dictate how they use it.

    2. ssnc*

      yep! there are certain things that I might do while eating, like check/sort emails, stay up to date with, industry news, or proofread things that may not be “productive” in the sense of output, but still need to get done. Might as well do it while I’m eating lunch.

  18. Tau*

    Another one for OP #1:

    So I recently quit my job and, during the last few weeks/months (lolsob our notice periods), had a bunch of one-on-one conversations with people who’d asked about it in which I explained why I was leaving. I talked about my concerns involving the company direction, the business model, and the way I wasn’t happy with how I and my team had been treated. Everyone took me seriously, and even those who didn’t express similar opinions said they could see where I was coming from. I didn’t experience any negative reactions and don’t believe I harmed my professional reputation.

    If I’d sent the same information in a group e-mail, I guarantee you most of my coworkers would think I was a crackpot.

    Seriously. Don’t do it.

  19. cmcinnyc*

    We’ve had a couple of blaze-of-glory emails go out company wide, and… don’t. It never lands the way you think it’s going to land.

  20. MistOrMister*

    I generally eat at my desk. Usually breakfast because i start early and if I eat breakfast at 6 before leaving home, I’m starving by 7:02. I might have a mid morning snack of something like fruit and nuts. I will then eat my lunch around noon or 1. And if I’m so inclined I will eat an afternoon snack. I usually work through lunch, but on days where I take a break but didn’t have time to eat, I will eat at my desk when I get back. If someone was to tell me I was no longer allowed to eat at my desk, I would quit!

    Unless employees are taking the time they’re spending eating to do non-work related activities, the eating itself is a red herring. If someone takes an hour break then comes back and surfs the internet for half an hour while eating, that’s a problem. Same as it would be if no eating was involved. If they’re working, what does it matter if they happen to have a sandwich in hand?

    1. Sleepless*

      I used to do that at my old job and never thought twice about it. The nature of my job means that there’s a bunch of things I have to do the moment I walk in, and then there is a lull before the main work of the day begins, so that’s when I’d eat breakfast.

      My current boss spoke to me about it because she just didn’t like the optics. Whatever. So now I have this elaborate routine where I pull into a parking lot near work, eat, and then drive the rest of the way to work.

  21. Pennalynn Lott*

    Letter #1 is timely for me because, if everything works out, I’ll get to leave my toxic job in January or February. The company as a whole is lovely. It’s just my department, under my specific VP. I liken it to a big tree. All of the branches are healthy and flush with leaves except one. One of the branches is withered and covered with fungus and insects and mold and just needs to be lopped off so a new branch can grow in its place.

    I want to have a professionally candid conversation with our [new] CXO when I leave, but I’m not sure how receptive he’d be to a staff-level person pointing out problems with top leadership. I mean, we’ve had ~20 people (out of 45) leave since this VP was brought on a year and a half ago, and we’ve still got 10 open positions because no one wants to work for the VP, so I’m hoping the CXO is noticing that something is up with this one department. But, still. I normally err on the side of bland exit interviews because, hell, I’ve already complained to my manager and their manager and so on, and no one seemed to care those times; why would they suddenly listen to me just because I’m quitting?

    1. pleaset*

      I think after some time you can lay out what you’ve said her in a calm and non-judgemental way.

      “We’ve had about 20 people out of 45 leave since the new VP joined, and have 10 open positions due the perception – which I believe is largely true – that this is a difficult environment to work in. I thought you would want to be be aware of this.”

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Yes. I didn’t want to specify which executive, to keep my comment as anonymous as possible.

  22. Sleepless*

    We had somebody send a rage-quit email to everybody (small company with 30 total employees). It was one of those solid blocks of text that was one giant run-on sentence.

    She was good at her job and really, underneath the rant were some valid concerns, or at least stuff that was understandable from her point of view. But the only thing anybody at the company remembers about her is that long, angry email. I suspect she’s a Do Not Rehire solely because of it.

  23. Batgirl*

    OP don’t do this!

    You seem to think that this person’s supporters simply need some telling it like it is – but people are far more likely to trust their own experiences over an email rant, however well respected the sender. Manipulators commonly groom supporters for months and years. You can’t overturn an “angel’s” reputation just like that. If you sense someone is reasonable and open to your message you can just SAY something discretely. It’s far too delicate for a batch email.

    You’re also going to look like someone who doesn’t appreciate the difference between when a matter is business and personal. Since there’s no business reason to send the email you’re going to look emotional and justice-hungry. While your feelings ARE just and valid, you don’t want people wondering if you’re going to solve future business problems with personal, shame-y and emotional methods.

    Save the venting for your friends and an old bottle of grape juice!

  24. Luna*

    I wouldn’t do it. As much as it would be nice to vent everything and point out the flaws, I think leaving is better. If you have the chance to tell HR why you are leaving (because they fail to do their job adequately, among other things), I don’t see much of a problem. I doubt you’d be using this place as a reference?

    Though my mom was in a similar situation. She made it clear to her job that she was planning on leaving because of many, many problems — short-staffing and refusing to hire new people (because SHE can do all that stuff~); HR having really dropped the ball on many occasions; and overall feeling taking advantage of — but she still gave them chances on improving things. But whenever they asked her if she was still thinking of leaving, they had just done more stuff that gave her all the more reason to leave. Sometimes, cut your losses, burn the bridge, whatever, just get away from the toxic places.

  25. BigRedGum*

    Don’t do it!

    Even if you are right, it just results in an awkward day where all your former coworkers are gossiping about how wild and out of line you are.

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