In the months and years leading up to retirement, it can be easy to assume saying goodbye to coworkers will be so easy. But then that day comes, and often the actual act of bidding farewell to the workplace, peers, and even bosses can be much harder than anticipated! While writing a retirement letter is still customary, the time it takes to compose a letter that contains exactly the right words can be unexpectedly time-consuming. Here, it often helps to have some guidance from others who have gone through the process - and even to have a sample letter such as the one below to use as a customizable go-by.
As with all business communications, it is ideal to strive to be as concise and to-the-point as makes good sense. While there is a little more leeway here to add some personal touches - perhaps even a detail or two about post-retirement plans - ultimately a gracious and simple farewell is the goal of this letter. It is up to each retiree to decide whether to provide post-employment contact information in a general letter of this sort. However, it is certainly very gracious and helpful to provide the name of the replacement person in that position (if any) and details on how to contact that person.
Writing One General Letter Versus Many Personalized Letters
Making the decision about whether to send a general company-wide or department-wide letter or to write personalized letters to each person is a very personal decision. In general, business etiquette suggests it is appropriate to personally address a letter to one's direct supervisor and (if time allows) one's close coworkers or team members. It is also perfectly appropriate to distribute a more general letter to coworkers who may be affected by a change in personnel due to retirement, but who are not in the close work circle. Ultimately, each retiree must make this decision based on their own personal best judgment.
Email Versus Interoffice Snail Mail
In today's business culture, it is considered perfectly acceptable to distribute a more general retirement email to co-workers via the company email system. Alternately, it can be a nice touch to print off and personally sign copies of the letter for closer coworkers, and place those letters in the interoffice mail system for hand delivery. For direct supervisors, a written and signed hand delivered letter is considered ideal if at all possible.
Retiring Under Less Ideal Circumstances
From time to time, and especially in today's struggling economy, there may be circumstances surrounding retirement that are less than ideal. However, the retirement letter offers an ideal vehicle to take the high road during departure, leaving with graciousness, gratitude, and generosity towards those remaining at the company. While burning bridges can feel tempting (sometimes very tempting if the circumstances are particularly difficult!) the best approach is always to cross that bridge with one's head held high rather than to burn it down (and the truth is, no one knows when paths may surprisingly cross again in the future!).
Here is a sample letter that offers plenty of room to edit details and customize a specific message to coworkers. For a more personalized letter, there is also room to include additional details, personal remembrances, and best wishes in the body text.
Sample Retirement Letter
City, State, Zip
Country [if applicable]
Dear [wonderful colleagues, valued coworkers, other greeting],
After [number of] enjoyable years at [company name], I will be retiring on [date]. Before my departure, I want to share my heartfelt thanks to each of you for helping to create the good memories I will take with me into my retired years.
Prior to my retirement, please feel welcome to reach out with any questions or concerns and I will be happy to help with the transition in any way I can.
[Name of replacement] has been training to take over my position and will formally assume my responsibilities on [date]. Here is [his/her] contact phone number [insert number here] and email address [insert email here]. He/she is looking forward to working with each of you in the near future!
Post-retirement, I/we plan to [insert small blurb about an upcoming trip, seeing grand-kids, moving, etc.]. As you can imagine, I am/we are looking forward to this very much!
[If desired] It is my hope that our paths may cross again in the future. You can reach me at [insert phone number here] and/or [insert email address here].
With gratitude and appreciation,
[Your printed name]
By Andre Bradley