It doesn’t really matter if you are resigning, retiring or transferring to a new location. Colleagues are often people we end up looking out for, breaking bread with, and in some cases people you may not cross paths with ever again, in spite of having spent a lot of time together. That’s just the way of the world. That’s why touching farewell letters to colleagues are a great way to leave things at a workplace, regardless of the circumstances.
It is also the polite thing do, and a great way to relive cherished moments and challenging experiences you have shared, and wish them well for the future.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing farewell emails to colleagues on last working day:
Timing – When do you hit send?
The best time is usually once you have wrapped up every thing you need to do & handed over all things that needed handing over. Why? Because once you send it, your colleagues may drop by your seat to wish you the best. This way you’ll have some time to celebrate your farewell with them and maybe even make plans to meet up in the future.
When What Where Why & How?
Ensure you answer the above questions in a relevant manner. It’s the best way to get and give everyone who worked with you closure.
Brevity is your best friend
Although you’re sending the letter to your colleagues, chances are that it will be filed by HR, as well. So keep it brief, and very respectful.
However, that is not an excuse to make it boring. Do throw in an anecdote or two.
But, leave out any sarcasm. Use it in the exit interview if you really need an outlet, but never put anything in written communication so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.
Make the subject line interesting
Try and steer clear of dreary subject lines like
Last day of work
Transferring to xxxxx
Instead, write something happy like,
You will be missed!
Farewell my favorite people.
…basically something that goes with your personality and that connects with the company.
Apologize if needed
We all have moments where we’ve been hard on a fellow worker or been difficult and perhaps even had a tiff or two. Farewells, are a great time to bury the hatchet and move on.
Let’s face it. It’s a small world. You never know when you might have to hit up on an old colleague for a favor, and at that point you’d have wished you’d done this.
Looking for the right words? I suggest you start with setting the context of the incident. Then apologize. Here’s an example to get you started,
“Please understand that I meant no malice. Thank you very much for all the wonderful years I had with the institution and working with you.”
Honesty is the best policy
While you may not want to give the full details of why you’re leaving and where you’re going next, a simple short explanation can help keep the rumor mill from going into overdrive and affecting your reputation later.
Put in a compliment or two
Like they say, you catch more flies with honey.
Although I’ve never understood why we’d want to catch flies in the first place, here’s an example of how you could work one in,
“It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to _________. My hope is that you will continue to live by the company values and mission.”
By the way, this is inspired by Jim Comey’s (Former FBI director) letter to his colleagues after he was fired by then President Trump. It was a short, succinct yet heartwarming letter and you can read here.
His conclusion was pretty touching too.
“Working with you has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.”
No broadcasts – Send it only to the people you actually worked with
If possible, even mention them by name, this will make them feel special and cherish the time and thought you’ve put into writing your farewell letter. Why would you write a touching farewell letter to colleagues you never worked with?
Tell your colleagues how they can stay in touch
Be it a new phone no, you’re new home address or your Instagram and twitter handles, do share them, so your colleagues can stay in touch.
Concluding the farewell note:
Make a grand hearty exit. Something kind and happy that makes everyone feel positive. For e.g.
“I wish you all the best of luck and good health. If you need any assistance of any kind, let me know, and I will be there to the best of my ability.
To one and all, once again I say thank you very much and au revoir!”
Mark a copy to your personal ID
In case your colleagues respond to your email, this will help ensure that you receive it even after you’ve left the company
Link up on LinkedIn
Farewells are a great time to get colleagues to write you testimonials. Use the opportunity to connect with the on LinkedIn and send them requests for testimonials. This can help beef up your profile and come in handy at a later date.
Proofread again & again
Any letter falls flat if it’s got typos or is grammatically incorrect. It just takes away from the sentiment you’re trying to convey. So try and make sure you run the content through a word processor and perhaps even have a friend look it over before you hit send.
It’s the best way to ensure that your touching farewell letter to your colleagues doesn’t become a memorable for a whole other reason.
Writing a farewell email might seem like a waste of effort at the time, but it goes a long way in establishing what colleagues and bosses will say about you if or when called for a reference.
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I’ve tried to cover tips that can apply to writing touching farewell letters to colleagues, both individual emails, as well as group emails. But if you have a specific question, feel free to leave it in the comments section below.