Saying goodbye is never easy, but the task is as inevitable as the movements that happen in an organisation. Next time you feel overwhelmed by someone's departure, put your thoughts and emotions into writing. Grab a pen and draft the most fitting farewell message for a colleague. It might just be your last chance to make them feel valued and appreciated for all their hard work – and for the good times you shared in between.
But do you know what to write on a farewell letter? How long should it be? Do you still send a message to a colleague leaving for another team but staying in the same company? Is it appropriate to say: “You will be missed!”? Learn the answers to these questions and find the best examples of goodbye messages to colleagues in this guide.
A farewell message is a parting communication between two entities directed towards one party making a professional move. They could be leaving to join another company, relocating for a new role, retiring after years of service, or transferring to a different team. Some unfortunate reasons may be a colleague not passing their probationary period, getting laid off, or being made redundant. The correspondence aims to reflect your feelings about the movement.
An American Psychological Association Journal article states: “Ending a phase in a well-rounded way causally promotes positive affect and a constructive transition.” Thus, offering farewell wishes for a colleague can ease them into their new role, company, or location.
The research concluded: “Apparently, the one-sentence reminder of ending the conversation in a well-rounding way was enough to increase the performance on a task in the subsequent phase.”
How do you feel when a friend sends you a message after visiting their house? Often, you feel cherished and delighted, making you value your relationship more. The same goes for wishing a colleague farewell. It fortifies whatever you have at present and allows for future collaboration. In short, you don't burn any bridges.
Even if you weren't close, you still want to send a farewell note to a coworker or teammate for courtesy. Remember: last impressions also last. You want to portray an image of positivity and utmost professionalism until the end – especially when the chances of encountering each other in the future are high.
When writing a farewell message for a colleague, your ultimate goal is to express your truth. Take note of the following tips to get into the proper mindset when starting your draft:
Your intentions should translate into your writing. The task may sound simple, but choosing the right words and constructing a well-meaning sentence can get complicated for some. Follow these tips when you're crafting your coworker's farewell message.
When you listen to a song, you can easily pick up the emotions the singer or composer wants to express. They successfully do this by selecting specific manners of conveying their message. The same goes for writing your farewell. You need to pick a tone (the how) that aligns with the meat of your message (the what).
You can shift between two or three tones in your message, but you must write from a place of sincerity and honesty. You don't want exaggerations, fabrications, or fluff. Don't make the mistake of shining the spotlight on yourself – or you risk making your farewell less palatable.
A simple, straight-from-the-heart “Thank you!” trumps any combination of words and phrases. Gratitude should be at the heart of your farewell message. Take this chance to acknowledge all the work achieved in the past, the state of your relationship at present, and the opportunities the future will present. Terima kasih!
“There's always a rainbow after the rain!” “This is only the beginning of your journey!” “I'm just a text message away!” No one wants to hear these tired (and tacky!) farewell quotes and clichés anymore.
Keep your “goodbye and good luck” as original as possible. You can inject creativity into your piece, but you shouldn't let that mask your truth. Go ahead and speak in your native language! You can even use special terms and inside jokes only you and your colleague will understand.
Now, it's time to put theory into practice (that's another cliché you might want to avoid in your farewell card message). The first thing you need to do is let the words flow. Write what's in your mind, coupled with everything in your heart. From there, you can move to arrange the structure, edit your flow, and add flair. Don't sweat it!
When writing a farewell message to colleagues, the shorter, the better! Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Will you have enough energy to read a farewell novel while navigating uncharted territory?
In this case, the brief, concise, and succinct will beat the verbose. Simpler messages are more memorable! Keep your farewell within one paragraph – or at most two if you built a strong relationship at work. Three straight-to-the-point sentences might do the trick.
Like in an essay, you can divide your farewell message into three parts: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. These have equal weight, so you should give as much attention to each component.
Make it catchy enough to pique your colleague's interest. You can use any of the following:
This part should offer more meat and justify why you're writing the message. You can write about these:
Your ending should be striking and personal. It has to make your colleague feel good and hopeful for the future. Try these options:
Optionally, you can include your contact details to keep in touch outside the professional setting. You can add your mobile number, personal email address, and social media pages. If you're extra close, share your home address!
Do you want your message to stand out in the pile? Capitalise on these reminders when finalising your draft.
Your message should highlight your relationship with your colleague. Bring out the shared experiences exclusive to you. Mention secrets or inside jokes that you share with your colleague. Assure them that you'll continue to keep those secrets safe.
Anecdotes will make your farewell more meaningful. Maybe you went on a work-related trip together or worked sleepless nights on a pitch. Or how about that one night out you spent celebrating a promotion? It's like saying: “I'll never forget these… I'll never forget you!”
Don't be shy to call them by their nickname, especially if you've reached that kind of relationship. Cut the formalities at this point! And don't forget to use their preferred pronouns. It's another way of proving how much you know about them.
If your shared experience involves criticising managers or insulting teammates you don't like (hopefully not!), skip this in your draft. You don't want any negativity to influence your farewell. No bullying, no snide remarks, no sarcasm!
Breeze through the process of writing a farewell message to your colleague with these examples. Take your pick from these work scenarios and choose the most appropriate goodbye text for your context.
This situation is one of the more common reasons you'll need to draft a farewell message. In this scenario, you want to congratulate your colleague and make them know how excited you are for their future.
Also, acknowledge their contributions to your workplace, whether big or small. Mentioning this bit will boost their confidence in this new step in their career. Finally, you want to wish them well in their future endeavours. Tell them you're also manifesting their success!
Here are sample messages when someone is leaving for a new job:
Retirement is an inevitable stage in every career. The hard truth: you'll eventually get there. But before that happens, take every chance to thank your colleagues who have reached that stage of their professional lives.
Your message should recognise the hard work and dedication they poured into their role. Also, express appreciation for their priceless contributions to the workplace. Of course, you wish them a happy retirement filled with joyous moments with family and friends.
Try incorporating the following in your draft:
A colleague moving to another location isn't always something to be sad about. Sometimes, it's even a reason to rejoice. For others, it could be a point of envy. In any case, you should express how you truly feel about their departure.
Remember to acknowledge the impact they have had on the workplace. Consider also the reason for their movement. If it's something to celebrate, raise a glass with them. Wishing them well in their new location shouldn't be so challenging!
Make writing a farewell message more manageable with these examples:
Sometimes, a colleague departs due to a more serious concern outside their control. In these cases, you should express utmost empathy and support. Make them feel supported in every way possible.
As their exit may be sudden, ensure that they should no longer worry about their responsibilities. Wish them a speedy recovery and give them a sense of hope by saying how excited you are for their return.
Bid them farewell with these sample messages:
Maybe they want to spend more time with loved ones. Or they're taking time to evolve and upgrade their skills? Or do they need time to plan their wedding? Whatever their reason, you should support your colleague's decision to depart from the organisation for now.
Express empathy and understanding for their undertaking. You want to avoid being the reason for their delay! And, of course, acknowledge all their successes at work. Lastly, wish them well in their journey.
Check out these goodbye message examples:
Whenever a boss leaves the organisation, it always feels like a cloud of gloom hovers over the office. Tell them how you feel; they'll appreciate it more than you think. You'd also want to express gratitude for their leadership. Do it with concrete examples, so they'll find it easier to remember.
Wish them well in their future endeavours with these messages:
This scenario is the most depressing of the lot. It's never easy to see a colleague go because of business decisions. As such, you need to express empathy and support from the get-go.
You might want to start by talking to the person directly. Assure them that they remain valuable and that many other companies will appreciate their skills. Acknowledge their contributions to the workplace, and say that no one can take that away. Your message should be encouraging – wish them well in their future job search.
Make the transition easier for them with these sympathetic messages:
No effort is too small in an organisation. As such, you must express gratitude and appreciation for interns who make work easier in your team or company.
Like with other employees, you should appreciate their contributions and highlight the value they added to the team. Wish them well in their future studies and career! Lastly, invite them to stay in touch, especially if you think they're a perfect fit for the company.
Choose from these messages an inspiration for your draft:
Internal movements also happen frequently within the company. While it may be dismaying to find a member departing the team, consider this a chance for them to grow.
Congratulate them on the new role, but also express your sadness about their move. Don't forget to highlight their contributions to the team and wish them well in their next endeavour.
Work with these sample messages to make a team member feel appreciated:
In this situation, you must find new ways to say: “You're leaving big shoes to fill.” Your message should align with your team member's context. Remember: you don't want to make them feel guilty.
Instead, express gratitude for all their contributions to the team and the company. Enumerate the projects won and challenges reduced because of their hard work. Take on a graceful tone and wish them well for their future.
Start with these ideas:
After drafting your message, it's time to pick its delivery method. You've numerous options, but you should choose depending on the situation. If you're close, saying goodbye in person and handing a physical card is the best option. If you've a more professional relationship, go for an email, social media message, or text message.
The best method to choose is the fastest. Sometimes, HR will send a notification about the departure. You can send your message directly to this email as a reply. Alternatively, you can message your colleague directly on Teams or Slack.
Another option is to initiate a farewell activity within your team. If you're the closest coworker of the person departing, you can source a big card and let others write on it. Or, you can start an online board where team members can say their goodbyes.
Consider also your colleague's situation. Do they really want to receive messages? Some prefer not to make a big deal about their departure, so the farewells might even annoy them.
Before sealing your letter or hitting send, take note of these additional tips for maximum impact.
You should send your message closer to your colleague's day of departure. Sharing it too early, like when you find out about the news, might come off displeasing. They might think that you're too excited for them to leave!
You should hand over your letter a day before their last day. In a more professional context, give it after their exit interview. If the team planned an event for them, share your message at the end of the occasion.
Again, it depends on the situation and your relationship with the person leaving. If you're close, the message should come from you alone. But besides your personal message, you can also start another coming from the team.
If you're their manager, you can assign the task of collecting messages to another team member. Or you can do it yourself! But don't force everyone to write something for quantity. The quality of farewells matters more!
Writing a farewell message for a colleague isn't an exact science. You can personalise it any way you prefer. But that's one of the most important factors to remember: keep it personal. Write from the heart and express your emotions without barriers.
Showcase your truth, so your colleague won't end up second-guessing how you feel. They wouldn't want to leave without unresolved issues, so you should take the initiative to iron things out. And, again, do not burn bridges!
Always match your tone with the situation and your colleague's context. Your intention should always be pure; keep your body sincere and honest. Your introduction should be striking enough to catch their attention, and your conclusion should be hopeful.
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