How to draft a leaving message for work colleagues

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A woman bidding farewell to his work colleagues working virtually

Bidding farewell to work colleagues you have been interacting with almost daily is challenging. Regardless of the circumstances behind their departure, our guide on leaving messages for work colleagues will offer you actionable advice on how to handle these situations. 

In this article, we will cover

  • What a leaving message is, and why it’s important
  • Ways to bid farewell to work colleagues
  • Occasions necessary to draft a leaving message for the workplace
  • Leaving messages for colleagues who work remotely

 What is a leaving message, and why is it important for the workplace?

A leaving message is an acknowledgement of a parting of ways with a company or an organisation, either temporarily or permanently. The leaving message can be for temporary occasions, such as going on maternity or paternity leave, or for a more permanent departure, such as resignation or retirement. The message can be sent either by the colleague parting ways with the organisation or the colleagues being left behind.

It is often seen as an unwritten rule in professional etiquette that leaving messages helps show appreciation to colleagues for their hard work and time spent at an organisation. The appreciation can foster professional relationships and networks beyond the office or a singular organisation or team. As sales and leadership coach and New York Times Best seller Tim Sanders said:.

‘Your networks are your net worth.’

With most workplaces banking on collaboration between employees to get the work done, a leaving message also helps prepare your colleagues to cope at work without your valuable input, either temporarily or permanently. It can also act as a parting mechanism in preparation for the next stage of your career and life. 

Ways to bid farewell to work colleagues who are leaving

Business people raising beer bottles and wineglasses during a farewell party of a colleague at work.

A departing colleague can often mean a lot more to staff than no longer having their input in shared work projects. There are memories shared with colleagues, whether it’s team wins, team setbacks, light-hearted moments shared over lunch, a team-building activity or cute moments like a team member’s pet or toddler hijacking a  video conferencing call. With all of this in mind,  it’s nice to give leaving employees a memorable send-off.

Ways to give employees a memorable farewell include:

  1. Surprising them with a sendoff gift during their last day of work.
  2. Giving them a card with personalised farewell messages. 
  3. Leaving drinks or throwing them a small farewell party.

Occasions necessary to draft a leaving message for the workplace

Businessman smiling while carrying belongings on staircase with coworker. They are moving up to a new office.

There are different occasions when a leaving message is professionally warranted. 

Retirement 

As you will be parting with your colleagues for good or parting with a retiring employee for good, a farewell or congratulations message is very much needed in this situation. 

Resignation

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, job resignations in the United Kingdom have been growing and stood at a record 40% more than pre-2020 figures. Just like in the case of retirement or a retiring employee, you will be parting ways with your colleagues or parting ways with a resigning colleague.

Moving to a different office 

When you or a colleague moves offices and changes teams and job roles through a process of office restructuring, a leaving message may be appropriate. This could be a result of deployment to a different workstation, department or perhaps your colleague may now be working from home permanently. While the parting, in this case, is minimal compared to retirement and resignation, it may still be deeply appreciated by your departing colleagues as leaving a physical workplace can be a challenging experience.

Parental leave 

According to guidance from the UK government, maternity leave can last up to 52 weeks on average. This means that you or the colleague going on maternity leave will be away for up to a year and leaving a message is very much necessary in this situation. However, regardless of the time spent away from work, it is still important for colleagues and organisations to acknowledge, celebrate and support new parents. 

Sabbatical leave

This is when you or a colleague takes an extended leave of absence beyond their normal leave days for professional development, voluntary work, research or travel. 

Tips when drafting a farewell message for colleagues

A senior man carrying a box of possessions after retiring

Your line manager may have already communicated to colleagues that you are leaving permanently through a team huddle and you would want to convey your leaving message with ultimate composure and professionalism but also may want to throw in some light banter depending on how well you know the colleagues you are leaving behind or the colleague you are leaving.

When drafting a farewell message to colleagues you are leaving behind, you can thank them for their support, take accountability for the tasks you were working on and state their progress, you could state how your productivity has improved, and how your professional life has grown as a result of working for the organisation. State how difficult it is to bid farewell to your colleagues. Finally, finish off the message by wishing your colleagues well.

When writing a leaving message to a colleague who is leaving:

Start the message by thanking them for work tasks or projects you worked on together or for the assistance they provided you with at work. State how much work will never be the same without their input. Thank them and wish them well in their future endeavours if they are leaving permanently.

Sample ‘leaving message’ for work colleagues when going on retirement 

After 20 years of working with the best team in my entire career, sadly it’s time to hang my boots. I truly do not take it for granted that all we achieved as a team was a result of everyone’s hard work and effort. You have made my last years of active employment truly memorable and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to work with. Goodbye, and I can’t wait to see you all progress in your respective careers and celebrate more team wins.’

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Sample ‘leaving message’ to a work colleague going on retirement 

‘Congratulations on a successful career and now it’s time for a well-deserved retirement. Thank you for your assistance on the XXXX project and I wish you well in your newest chapter of life’

Sample farewell message to the workplace when starting a new job

‘Sadly, it’s my last day working here. Although I am excited about my new job, it breaks my heart to leave such a wonderful team behind. Thank you for your constant support during my time here. I have grown in my profession and as a person and learnt a lot from each one of you. I will cherish the memories we shared away from work. Goodbye and best wishes to you all’

Sample ‘leaving message’ to a work colleague starting a new job

Congratulations on your new job. It’s sad to see you leave but am sure you will be a valuable asset and team member in your job. Stay in touch.’

Leaving message to colleagues when moving to a different department

‘ As communicated earlier, today is my last day working with the team. It has been a pleasure  working with you guys. It makes me sad to leave such a wonderful team but I am equally glad that I am just around the corner and a message or email away. This is not a goodbye but more of a see you from the other side. Feel free to contact me for help or clarification on tasks I worked on.’

Leaving message to a colleague moving to a different department 

It’s not easy to say goodbye to a valuable team member and colleague who has become a friend. I will miss working with you and best wishes to you in your new role and department’

Tips when writing a leaving message when going on temporary leave

These are messages written when going on temporary work breaks like parental leave, sabbatical leave or extended annual leave. The messages are accompanied by a handover email with accountability on tasks you were working on, contacts of the person who will be handling your workload while you are away and an out-of-office (OOO) message for anyone who might try to contact you while you are away.

Sample last day of work before going on maternity leave message

‘Dear all, I am excited to be commencing my maternity leave on (Insert date) in preparation to welcome the newest addition to my family.

For XXX project ( Give an update on the progress of all your work tasks)

XXX( Insert name and email) Will be taking over while I am away and please feel free to contact her for any updates. I am confident she will do an excellent job while I am away. I will be returning to the office on the ( Insert return date).

Thank you for your continued support.’ 

Sample out-of-office message for maternity leave

Thank you for your email. I am currently on maternity leave till (insert date) and might not respond to your message on time. For an urgent response please contact my colleague  ( Insert name and email address) 

Thank you.’

Sample message to a colleague going on parental leave 

Congratulations on the incoming member of your family. Motherhood is a beautiful journey and best wishes as you take time to bond with your baby’

Sample message to colleagues when going on sabbatical leave 

‘Dear team, 

I will be commencing my Sabbatical leave on ( Insert date). 

For project XXXX( Provide a handover update on projects you were working on.)

XXXX ( Provide a name and email)  will be taking over my work duties while I am away.

It has been an honour working with you all and I am excited about what lies ahead. I will miss working with every one of you while I am away. Can’t wait to pick up from where I left off when I return on ( Insert return date).’

Sample out-of-office message for sabbatical leave 

‘Hey there,

Thank you for contacting me. I am currently on Sabbatical leave( Insert reason)  until ( Insert return date). Therefore I am unable to respond to your message till I return.

For inquiries on projects I was working on, please contact ( Insert name and email) for an update.

For other inquiries please contact ( Insert name and email of the person in charge of specific inquiries).

Thank you and have a great day ahead.’

Sample farewell message for a work colleague going on sabbatical leave 

All the best in your undertakings during your period of leave. I can’t wait to hear all about it when you return. I will miss your output and assistance whenever I am stuck. See you soon’

How to bid farewell to colleagues who work remotely 

A woman bidding farewell to her colleagues virtually

A June 2022 survey by Gallup found that three out of 10 people were working fully remotely, with hybrid and remote working expected to shoot up to 81% in 2024. As such, bidding farewell to colleagues who work remotely can be challenging due to the lack of physical interaction. Some ideas around bidding farewell to colleagues who work remotely include: throwing a surprise virtual party, sending your leaving colleague a farewell tribute video with messages from other staff members and mailing a gift hamper to their address.

Get started with the RingCentral team messaging  and make it easier for teams to collaborate at work and in other activities, such as bidding farewell to a work colleague.

 

Originally published Mar 23, 2023

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