I’ve recently handed in my resignation.

The reasons were varied, and mostly related to myself and my personal preferences, as well as another job offering that was much better than my current job. With time I’ve gotten a better grasp on what I want to do with my life, and part of it was changing jobs.

As the news of my departure spread, people have confided in me with a whole slew of problems, as well as disclosing some of their plans for the future.

I’d like to somehow warn my employer that there are some common grievances among my colleagues that he’d best address. However, I’ve already had my exit interview and I don’t want to breach the trust of my colleagues.

How could I go about this without breaching my colleagues’ trust?

The annoyances included

  • longer commutes than originally promised (the company is a consultancy firm which sends people offsite; the assignments have been steadily moving towards the country’s capital, which is a 100km commute for some, whereas they used to be local: people are complaining that our employer is taking more lucrative, further away assignments, and not compensating the people who have to give up more of their time as the commutes increased),
  • assignments that people don’t enjoy,
  • people disagreeing with the home-working policy.

It mostly came down to people complaining that they’re having to put in a lot more time than they anticipated, and aren’t compensated for it.

I shared some of these grievances, but they weren’t the primary reason for my leaving and I didn’t elaborate on them much during my exit interview. However, many of my colleagues seem to have a harder time with these issues, and I'd like to make my employer more thoroughly aware of this.


At the recommendation of people here, I have not gone to management, however I did feel like I had to do something to help. So I advised people who confided in me to step to management themselves.

Management has reviewed their home-working policies giving people with long commutes a day tele-work, and given some raises to people who are looking at longer commutes than they had anticipated.
Apparently all it needed was a few more voices to convince our boss that the problems were farther along than they thought, and at least one person who was on the verge of leaving is now going to stay (knowing you're being listened to will work wonders).

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    @KentAnderson The company sends people offsite. It's a consultancy firm. The reason for this complaint is that the assignments have been steadily moving towards our countries capital, which is a 100km commute for some. Where the assignments used to be local. A large part of this is that people are complaining that our employer is taking more lucrative further away assignments, and not compensating the people who have to give up more of their time as the commutes increased. I'm sorry if that was unclear, and if I seem silly.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:50
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    Specifically on this point of commutes, does the company have a policy on how far they can send you before your travel time is compensated as work time? 100km? 200km? Other side of the world? Mountain-ledge accessible only by a goat track and a 500m ice climb? If management isn't following its own rules, or doesn't have any rules and just sends you wherever, then that's sometime you could raise with your own boss, as a "before I go, this is something I really didn't like", without involving HR directly and without needing to mention that anyone else thinks the same way. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:25
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    @SteveJessop No rules of the sort. There wasn't originally any intention of long commutes, and they've since been rationalized away as "part of the consultancy job package". Despite peoples commutes literally quadrupling for some.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:29
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    @Reaces: mmm, management is cruising for at least a few people to leave. They took the job because it was a good gig. Move the gig to another city, you might have just changed whether or not it's a good gig. People have lives to lead and kids to pick up. But at the point where they're offering an official "that's the job, take it or leave it" rationalisation, they probably know this and have decided the risk is worth the benefit to them, in which case hearing from you on the subject won't affect that assessment. They might just be clueless, though, and knowing would help. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:33
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    @Reaces: sorry, yes, I thought the same thing and realised my "probably" should be leavened with the second-most likely option. People who overwork themselves don't always see it as a bad thing, or that it harms other people to overwork them too. If they're completely oblivious and assume nobody really minds very much because nobody has anything better to do with their time then they're just ignorant :-) Or they could be somewhere in between, "it's a sacrifice in the interests of the business, we hope you'll be willing to make it". Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:38

5 Answers 5


Your colleagues don't necessarily want you to do anything.

Many times it simply feels good to share gripes with someone who is sympathetic and in these situations the listener is not expected to actually do anything about it.

You might feel you're doing them a favor by bringing their concerns to management, but really that's what your co-workers should be doing. If you try to raise these grievances with management you may be doing your colleagues a disservice as it is often easy to discern who has which complaints based on context and details.

It is their problem, they just want your ear. They're adults and they can communicate their grievances to their management themselves if they want to. Don't try to do it for them.

If, instead, this is all about your loyalty to management, it still is not good to share what you've been told in confidence. They're likely already aware of at least some of these issues and the word of someone going out the door is never taken seriously anyway. "Exit interviews" have nothing to do with actual improvement of the organization, they're typically HR-created busy-work intended to ferret out potential legal problems and whether or not you're a candidate for re-hire in the future.

In an exit interview you're wasting your time if it consists of anything other than a breezy "moving on to other opportunities" blurb and a "best wishes to everyone".

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    Is an exit interview really such a cynical thing? I hadn't really imagined it as such.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:03
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    Yes, this. If the issues are such that they need sorting, those who need them sorted will deal with it when they are ready :)
    – Jane S
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:04
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    @Reaces, in large organizations, yes, definitely. If the question is strictly about small orgs, things might be more friendly. In general, it is safest to start with the assumption that the exit interview is merely a trite formality.
    – teego1967
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:07
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    @Reaces Opinions vary hugely on whether exit interviews are useful and whether you should be candid in them or not, there's even a separate tag for it. The employee who's leaving is usually best placed to judge whether his company really wants feedback (and will act on it if possible) or is just going through the motions. However, airing other employee's concerns isn't what they're for.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:40
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    My experience is that if a company is interested in growing and improving then they're soliciting feedback much much more frequently than exit interviews. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 21:28

Don't say anything to the company.What your colleagues told you was confidential and you don't want to breach that confidentiality.

Yes, you're part of an unhappy trend for your employer but your employer will eventually figure out that trend on their own as more and more people vote with their feet and leave. If your employer doesn't figure it out, then they are clueless and their cluelessness is really no one's problem but theirs.

You have your own mix of reasons for leaving and as you stated, your colleagues' mix of reasons are uniquely their own. You already spoke for yourself. Let each of your colleague speak for themselves without you intervening in any way. You may have a general idea of what's going on but you don't speak for them and they never explicitly asked you to speak for them. Your colleagues are their own best advocates, they know best what makes each of them happy and they each have their own idea as to what they want from management. Let them resolve or not resolve their issues on their own. You are not adding anything helpful by intervening.In fact, you can't add anything helpful because you lack knowledge of the specifics for each individual. Exchange enough contact info with your colleagues to keep in touch and just exit.


I think any of the following would be sensible:

  • Do nothing. You were told in confidence, end of.

  • Offer to take up the issues with management if the person speaking to you wants you to, but only with their permission. They probably won't be offended by the offer, you aren't proposing to do anything they won't agree to, and they can easily say "good grief no!" and that's the end of it.

  • Say, "others have said similar things to me: would you like me to let them know you feel the same way?". Then, if the only problem is that everyone thinks they're suffering alone in silence, then employees can compare notes and decide on what they want to say to management about it (if anything). Again, you're not proposing to do anything they don't want.

I think that the following are not sensible:

  • "Trying to help" when you aren't sure of the consequences and won't be around to see them anyway.

  • Trying to represent the grievances of someone else who has given you no mandate to do so

  • Informing management that their employees are complaining (there's dissent in the ranks! Increase the frequency of beatings!)

  • Telling your employer anyone's plans for the future -- this could seriously impact their prospects at this firm. I mean, maybe you feel that although you're about to leave, you haven't left yet, and that you have a strong responsibility to report disloyal workers to the proper authorities. In which case this is the only thing to do, but I don't think that's where you are at all ;-)

  • Gosh I never intended for the beatings to increase! At any rate, judging by yours and other answers you're probably right that trying to help won't actually help. I very much disagree though that I won't be around for the consequences. I would like to keep a good relationship with my employer and former colleagues, anything I do now might jeopardize that, I do however concede that the consequences for them could be worse. And I'd never disclose their plans for the future, that would be horrible! :P
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:18
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    @Reaces: what I mean by "not around for the consequences", is that even if by good luck or good judgement you get some change in motion, you won't be there to follow it through, your involvement will end shortly. So, no matter how sympathetic you are or what the benefits are of hearing several people's stories, you're not the right person to drive this. It'd be hit and hope. Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:20
  • Fair enough, I hadn't considered it in that kind of context!
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 14:20
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    "You were told in confidence, end of." Really? So if someone told you they were defrauding the company, you'd keep their confidence? I suggest, as others have, to weigh up whether telling management would help or hinder their colleagues - and whether or not the information can be truly anonymised...
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 14:18
  • @Mikaveli: I didn't say that. I said keeping this confidential, and that being the end of the matter, would be one of several sensible routes in this case. I disagree with your suggestion: I don't think the questioner is in a position to weigh up whether telling management would help their colleagues, which is why I say it's not sensible to represent someone else's grievance without a mandate. Let the colleagues decide what's in their interest. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 14:56

Why can't you ask your colleagues if they want you to bring it up? Some people are shy or scared to be the messenger that gets killed.

There's no reason to name names. It can be a general suggestion that you forgot to mention during your exit interview.

This is really going to depend on the nature of the complaint. You don't want the company to think they have some sort of mutiny or just a pack of complainers. Also, I would consider whether or not anyone has a solution. They company could make things worse if they're not careful.


What your colleagues do makes perfect sense: they want you to communicate their issues because you have absolutely nothing to lose. Additionally the management can only listen and not try to persuade you since you are leaving anyway.

My suggestion would be to do nothing but listen and try to offer advice or your opinion. If a company is interested in improving or changing things then it should have feedback loops or a formal structure from which issues can be raised, discussed, and actioned or not. Most companies prefer to stay AS-IS until everybody leaves or competition kills them doing patches in between.

You should concentrate on leaving with good terms in case you need them in the future for references or something like that and not try to assist them. It's their problem now.

  • The company I'm leaving is quite small, and family run. Which partly explains the lack of a formal structure. It seems somewhat paradoxical to put leaving in good terms and it's their problem now in one sentence.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:01
  • Leaving in good terms: without causing any issues that might hurt or damage your relationship with them further. Their problem: how their company works, not yours. Small, family run: Although having processes for everything is not desired in small sized companies, the fact that they are small means that they can encourage open discussions instead... Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:13
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    The colleagues, it appears, have not specifically told the OP to communicate these concerns. The way it is described, they're just chatting.
    – teego1967
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:19
  • @teego1967 Good point: this means that the things they are talking about might be for them annoyances or small, no dealbreakers Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:34
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    @dimitrismistriotis They are dealbreakers for quite a few of them, which I tried to hint at by saying that they also shared plans for the future, but maybe I should just convey that part straight up.
    – Reaces
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 12:38

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