my company throws A List and B List parties for employees

This post was originally published on March 29, 2010.

A reader writes:

I am a “peak period employee” of a large company. Although I have worked 1000+ hours per year for them every year for the last decade, employees of my status are not invited to the annual holiday party. This is reserved for full-time permanent employees, and is usually a very splashy affair: evening dress, wine, dancing, etc.

In 2009 the human resources department inaugurated a B-list party (my term, not their term). Employees not invited to the A-list party were invited to go to a local $9.99 buffet that features plastic bibs emblazoned with the slogan “Put on a Bib! Oink! Oink! Pig out on Ribs! Oink! Oink!” Several tepid speeches were given, and paper awards handed out to all.

I will not be attending this party next year, if it is given. Non-attendees of the 2009 B-list party were gently chastised for not showing up to claim their holiday thank-you certificate (not quite all A-list people got year-end cash bonuses, but most did. No B-listers ever get them, even when vastly outperforming A-listers at the same job in far fewer hours).

I find it difficult to believe that my company does not understand that having two separate but unequal parties is just rubbing salt in the wound. I will say something in our end-of-season job satisfaction survey about this, but are they really going to pay attention to an anonymous survey response? If I approach HR about this will I merely sound trite and whiny? How seriously would you take this as a manager?

Yeah, this is a weird (and rude) practice. It’s hard to imagine how someone thought this wouldn’t produce resentment, irritation, and mockery.

That said … I wouldn’t make a big deal of it, because there are bigger things to care about. Things like: Do you have a fair and effective manager? Are you given clear goals and expectations? Do you receive recognition for good work, and feedback about ways you can do better? Do you have the resources to do your job? How’s the pay? Do you like the people you work with?

Now, if these dual parties are representative of other poor treatment from the company, then that’s an issue … but in that case, you should be focusing on those bigger issues anyway. If they’re not, and it’s just some weird and misguided decision on their part, I’d let it go. Enjoy it for the piece of ridiculousness it is and don’t dwell on it too much beyond that.

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