Saying goodbye is an interesting moment when any relationship comes to an end.
Whether a colleague is departing, or you are the one that is leaving, saying goodbye in a professional (and sometimes personal) manner is a way to acknowledge what has been and wish people well for the future.
There are various ways of saying goodbye (spoken and written), but in my view most goodbye messages should contain a personal and professional element. These people will have made a difference to you in one way or another, so it is appropriate to let them know that you are grateful. It also might be appreciated if you make a nod to the circumstances of their departure – they will appreciate you thinking of them.
In this article, we explore some specific goodbye messages (from both viewpoints) alongside more general messages. You might wish to pick and mix depending on the circumstances. We’ll look at:
- Why is it important to say goodbye to colleagues?
- 20 specific ways to say goodbye when someone is leaving
- 10 general goodbye messages when someone departs
- 20 specific messages when you are leaving
- Four ways to say farewell
The messages in this article are general examples. The more specific and personal that you can make your message, the better. Don’t write or say too much, though. It is an emotional time, and you don’t want to overdo it. A couple of sentences (at most) will suffice.
Why should you avoid being brutally honest in your goodbye message? You may be tempted to write a low-key unpleasant message to someone you have not got on with but it’s important to be the bigger person. Pettiness won’t achieve anything, so just be glad to see the back of them.
Why is it important to say goodbye to colleagues?
It is a small world out there, so you should try to be pleasant and polite to colleagues right up until their last day. Your leaving message will be their last memory of you, so don’t undo all your good work together by writing a lazy “good luck” or “I wish you all the best.” Put a bit more thought into it.
If they are being given a large card or farewell book it is likely that your colleagues and superiors will read what you wrote. This can tell them much about you as a person.
If we are being cynical about it, you have nothing to lose by writing a warm and positive goodbye message. If the message is somewhat uninspiring, they may wonder why (and in the worst-case scenario take it personally). Make it meaningful. They will appreciate it.
What do you write in a colleague’s leaving card? Leaving cards are slightly different to emails. There is often less space, so limit the goodbye messages to 3-7 word phrases wishing them luck and expressing gratitude for having worked together.
20 specific ways to say goodbye when someone is leaving
Departing colleagues will get countless leaving messages, cards and emails. If you want to make an extra effort with your message, you could choose to mention their reasons for departure in your message. Your note will stand out amongst the crowd, and they will likely be grateful that you were thoughtful enough to consider the circumstances.
You might wish to write a longer message with a few more personal thoughts but including these sentences will certainly show that you understand why they are moving on. Some of them may be more suited to a personal message as opposed to a public one:
Voluntary redundancy. “You have been a supportive colleague over this difficult period, and I fully understand your difficult decision. I am sure that amazing opportunities lie in wait.”
Family reasons. “I wish you and your family all the best for the future and very much admire your choice to put them first. I would do the same.”
Resigned. No options. “I was surprised to hear that you had resigned, but I understand the circumstances and hope that you find a fantastic new role soon.”
Fired. “I was sorry to hear about your situation. It has been a pleasure working together over the years. You will be missed by many.”
More senior role. “Well, what can I say, onwards and upwards. You fully deserve this step up in your career and I have no doubt that you will enjoy ongoing success.”
Education. “I have long been tempted to go back into education, so I fully understand why you feel that it would be beneficial for your career. Go and broaden those horizons.”
Illness. “I was sorry to hear about your illness and wish you a swift recovery and return to employment. If there is anything that I can do to help, please let me know.”
Parental leave. “If there is ever a great reason to leave a job, this is it. I have everything crossed for the birth and hope that you enjoy those first few magical days and weeks.”
Career change. “I know that you have long pondered a change, so I wanted to congratulate you for having the courage. I know you will be nervous, but you will settle in quickly.”
Market leader. “Anyone would want to work for your new company. I would definitely swap places with you. Well done for securing a fantastic opportunity.”
Change in work style. “Swapping to a freelance career will be an exciting journey and I know that your networking skills and marketing prowess will stand you in good stead.”
Relocation. “It is a shame that you have to leave to follow your partner, but I admire your supportive stance and am sure that there will be many companies that will need your skills.”
Mental health. “I am sorry to hear about your recent struggles. Speaking from experience, your mental health comes first. Your career isn’t going anywhere. Look after yourself.”
Merger. “The writing has been on the wall for a while, and it seems likely that I will be following you out the door soon. I am sure that better things await both of us.”
New industry. “I heard that you were leaving, which is sad, but at least you are not going to a competitor. Best of luck in your new industry. They are lucky to have you.”
Work from home. “I know how much working from home would transform your life, so I sincerely hope that you can ignore the morning television and biscuit tin.”
Better compensation. “Between us, I fully understand why you may have been tempted to move. I know what a difference the salary increase will make to your life.”
No promotion. “I didn’t understand why you didn’t get the job. You were the standout candidate in my view. I am sure that your next employer will appreciate you more.”
Retirement. “You’ve fully earned your retirement and thank you for everything that you have done for my career. All the best for the next stage in your life.”
Move within the company. “We will miss you in so many ways, but I am delighted that we will still be able to see each other around. Another department is not another world.”
What is the best farewell message? The best farewell message is one in which the recipient feels that you cared about them. The words are less important than the sentiment. It is nice to feel that you made an impact on others and that you will be missed.
10 general goodbye messages
Sometimes you are just not that close to someone, but as not sending a farewell message may give off an unfriendly vibe, you might decide to keep the message brief and more general. There is nothing wrong with this – it is the thought that counts, after all.
“I am sorry to see you go. I will miss our chats in the kitchen over hot chocolate.”
“Best of luck with your next role. I am sure that you will settle in quickly.”
“Thanks for all your hard work in the team, meetings will be a lot quieter without you.”
“I am sure that you will thrive in your new position. They are lucky to have you.”
“The next role sounds like a challenge. We will all be rooting for you.”
“I hope that everything works out for the best. You deserve every success.”
“I was surprised to hear that you are leaving. You will be missed more than you know.”
“I have learned a lot from you over the years. I hope that we can keep in touch.”
“Warmest congratulations on the fantastic new opportunity. I am excited for you.”
“I have always admired your decision making. I hope this proves to be a good one.”
How do you say goodbye professionally? The message should not mention any personal details – keep it professional. If you have anything more personal to share, then leave it until they have left and drop an instant message or contact them on social media.
20 ways to say goodbye when you are leaving
Goodbye messages work two ways. While you will likely exchange multiple instant messages with your closest colleagues, there is still value in sending a general message out to the wider team. People will want to understand (from you) why you are leaving.
You never know how every individual may feel, so giving some background may soften the blow somewhat for those who are negatively impacted by your departure. Leaving out of the blue without sharing a reason can bring about all sorts of unhelpful rumors, so it is best to be as clear as possible. Give the reasons an “edge” – you don’t want to seem happy to leave.
You could share another sentence or two in terms of more personal sentiments, but these twenty examples offer that clarity that some colleagues may seek:
Voluntary redundancy. “I am sorry to be leaving, but given my personal circumstances taking voluntary redundancy was the right thing to do. I will miss working with you all.”
Family reasons. “I need to take time out to help my family through a difficult period, but I will treasure everything that we managed to achieve together.”
Resigned. No options. “I felt that the time had come to hand in my resignation, but I am sure that you will all continue to smash it after my departure.”
Fired. “Sadly, I have been asked to leave the role, effective immediately. Leaving you all was not my choice, but I hope to be in contact with many of you in the future.”
More senior role. “I am approaching the point in my career where it is time for a challenge, so when this opportunity appeared it was something that I couldn’t turn down.”
Education. “I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me to make the move back into education. I know that this will give me a renewed impetus in my career.”
Illness. “I am sad to inform everyone that I have been forced to leave the role due to continued poor health. I hope to return at some point when I am able to do so.”
Parental leave. “I promised my wife a long time ago that I would help out in the first few months after the birth, but I have now decided that I would prefer a longer break.”
Career change. “I am leaving to start out on a new career journey, and I am incredibly grateful for everyone’s support and encouragement. I wish you all well for the future.”
Market leader. “I hope that you don’t feel that I am abandoning you, but when this opportunity came along, I couldn’t refuse. I look forward to seeing many of you around.”
Change in work style. “I have long been keen on an opportunity to move into consulting as it is a good fit for new personal circumstances. I have enjoyed working with you all.”
Relocation. “Having decided to make a long-term move to Canada, an opportunity has recently presented itself, so it is with regret that I have to say my goodbyes.”
Mental health. “As many of you know, I have struggled with my mental health over the past year, so I feel that changing roles is the best thing for me in the long run.”
Merger. “Given the recent merger, my position has been deemed surplus to requirements, so I wish you all the best during this turbulent time.”
New industry. “After seven enjoyable years in construction, a move to a new industry will now broaden my experience. I will miss working with you all very much.”
Work from home. “I have made a decision to leave my position soon and start a freelance career working from home. I hope to chat with you all on a Zoom call soon.”
Better compensation. “I have loved working together. I know that we have long moaned about remuneration, and I have finally decided to do something about it.”
No promotion. “You are a rising star within the company, and you fully deserved the promotion. I too am moving on up in my next job, so I will see you at the top one day.”
Retirement. “As I look forward to a new chapter of retirement, I have to say that I will miss this place. I have fond memories of our time working together.”
Move within the company. “I am writing to say that I will be moving jobs, but I am not leaving the company. I look forward to maintaining our regular lunch dates.”
What do you say to a colleague who is leaving when you see them in person? When you have a chance to say goodbye in person, you might wish to use the phrases listed in this article and maybe drop in one last anecdote about the good times. Don’t monopolize their time at a leaving do – there will be many others who will wish to share their best wishes.
Four ways to say farewell
Saying goodbye to someone can sometimes seem like a somewhat drawn-out process when there is a long notice period. There may be a mix of the following ways to say farewell:
Sign a card. The most common way to say goodbye is to sign a leaving card. You might choose to write a brief message here and leave the longer one to a private email. Humor is acceptable on a leaving card that everyone will read but keep it clean.
Send an email. The farewell email is a staple of modern office life. If you are close to someone, send it to their private email address as they obviously won’t be able to access their work account when they leave.
Contribute to a gift. Chipping in to contribute towards a leaving gift will be noticed by the wider team and it is a nice way of feeling that you are doing your bit. Giving them a personal leaving present when others are around is a little awkward. Leave it for a private lunch.
Attend a party. Leaving parties are normal for senior employees who have been at the company for a long time, but make sure that everything you say (to them and others) is positive and uplifting. Don’t be sucked into the “glad to see the back of them” crowd.
Is it important to express gratitude to a departing colleague? Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions. Many of us wish to feel that we have contributed in our careers, so when someone expresses gratitude for our impact, this validates our purpose.
- Whether you are saying goodbye to a colleague or saying your own goodbyes, hitting the right tone is important to maintaining a relationship.
- When you have invested so much into a person, cutting the ties as smoothly and amicably as possible may pay off in the future.
- Goodbye is not always forever. Make it a good one.