UPDATED BY
Matthew Urwin | Sep 12, 2022

Leaving your job can be a difficult thing to do, but writing a farewell message to coworkers can help make sure your transition ends on a positive note. 

A farewell email provides a chance for someone to thank their colleagues, offer their contact info to stay in touch and express their gratitude for their time at the company. It can also go a long way in helping maintain relationships with managers and coworkers, many of whom you’ll want to network with throughout your career.

Why a Farewell Message to Coworkers Is Important

A farewell email is an opportunity for someone to thank their colleagues, reflect on how they’ve grown at their company and provide a way to stay in touch. A farewell message can also nourish positive feelings surrounding a departure, ensuring no bridges are burned in the process.

Sara Ortins knows well the importance of a farewell message. Back in 2018, Ortins was working for a company that was acquired, and while her team went to the new company after the acquisition, she did not. “It felt like a departure,” Ortins said, and after the bustle of the acquisition was over, she felt “a bit unsettled” about the situation.

To calm that unsettled feeling, Ortins wrote a farewell note of thanks to her team and copied the new director. “I was really saying, ‘please take care of these good people,’” said Ortins, now chief of staff at edtech company NimblyWise. “We all want a bit of closure when we have transitions,” she said. “The note was a way to move on in a way that felt meaningful.”

Taking the time to write a few lines of gratitude may seem like a small gesture, but it can have a big impact and help ensure a graceful departure.

 

How to Write a Farewell Email

It’s no surprise that writing a farewell email can be a daunting task. Leaving a job may bring up lots of emotions and memories. Besides choosing which details to include, you may also end up sending multiple farewell notes and need to decide how to tailor your tone and content to each recipient.

To make sure you leave on the right foot, you’ll want to follow common best practices for farewell messages.  

8 Tips for Writing a Farewell Message to Coworkers

  1. Express gratitude.
  2. Be positive.
  3. Be authentic.
  4. Keep it short — three paragraphs max.
  5. Send a logistics email (who to contact after you leave) a few days before your last day.
  6. Send a more personal note the day before or of your departure.
  7. Consider separate notes for mentors, your boss and other key people.
  8. Have a trusted person review your note if you’re having doubts about its content.

 

Goodbye Email to Coworkers When You Quit Your Job. | Video: Jennifer Brick

What Should I Include in a Farewell Message?

When composing your farewell note, it’s essential to keep your voice positive and authentic.  

Start by beginning your goodbye email with a thank you. Acknowledge your time at the company and express gratitude for the opportunity, what you learned and the people you’ve met. Because the focus will be on you leaving, people will appreciate even more that you’re willing to put the spotlight on them. 

You can also highlight specific instances where someone was instrumental in your growth or went above and beyond to help you develop as a professional. 

You can end your goodbye email by providing ways to stay in touch, such as including your personal email, social handles and cell number for texts.

And most importantly, keep your farewell message brief. Three paragraphs is all you should need.

Further ReadingMore Than Money: Your Guide to Severance Pay

 

Who Should Get a Farewell Message?

Kyle Elliott, a career coach, suggested that professionals higher on the management ladder consider two goodbye notes. The first, sent a few weeks before departure, details logistics and information on your job transition — who will handle which of your responsibilities and how to reach those people. The second note, more personal in nature, can be delivered a day or two before your last day. 

If you’re leaving voluntarily, definitely send a farewell note to your peers, expressing thanks for your time together and including a way to contact you in the future. Give them your personal email or phone number, not your future work email. “You don’t want to present a conflict of interest or make it seem as if you’re going to poach people,” said Elliott.

Consider an assortment of farewell messages, perhaps one for your boss, one for your team and one for external colleagues. If you do decide to write different notes to different people, personalize them. 

Elliott and Ortins suggest email as the best way to send a thank you note. Handwritten notes, while lovely, “aren’t the way people communicate in the workplace,” Ortins said. That said, a handwritten note to a mentor or otherwise meaningful person could demonstrate a higher level of gratitude (not to mention style).

 

What Should a Farewell Message Not Say?

The worst farewell emails seethe with rancor or snark or passive-aggressively try to settle a score. 

“I’ve had people say, ‘well, I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to let them know how much work I did or how I was overlooked,’” said Ortins, who at the behest of colleagues has reviewed many farewell notes. “It is absolutely 100 percent never the place to do that,” she said.

“People forget you only get one chance to make a final impression,” Elliott said. “It’s important that you control the message.”

Resist the urge to depart on a negative farewell note, even if the job was a nightmare. Resist the urge to be nasty, even if it’s (in your opinion) subtle or cloaked in humor. Your soon-to-be former coworkers can and will read between the lines and draw their own conclusions. 

“People forget you only get one chance to make a final impression,” Elliott said. “It’s important that you control the message.”

 

When Is a Farewell Message Not the Best Option?

Let’s say the job was a nightmare and you’d really rather not write a farewell note. Write it anyway, and while doing so seize the opportunity for a little self-reflection

“Is it that you didn’t enjoy the work, or that you didn’t develop strong relationships?” Ortin said. “Make sure that when you move into your next role, it’s something that is meaningful work that you feel passionate about, and it matches your skills.”

“I think it’s a sign when people have a hard time writing a note that something in the position wasn’t quite right for them,” she added.

That’s if you’ve left voluntarily. Laid-off or fired employees might have fewer options for saying goodbye, one practical reason being that their access to company email might be shut off in those circumstances.

Terminated employees who can’t send a note to colleagues might consider conveying the news via a professional social media platform to say goodbye.

Further ReadingHow to Give Your Two-Week Notice The Right Way

 

Farewell Email Samples

You may want to write farewell letters to different individuals and groups of people. A single goodbye email may not be the right way to properly address a certain colleague or mentor with whom you’ve developed a close relationship. To address a range of audiences, you’ll want to write different farewell emails and adjust your content accordingly.

Farewell letter to coworkers. | Video: Self Made Millenial

 

General Farewell Message to Coworkers 

While there are different ways to write a goodbye email, Ann Marie Sabath, president of At Ease, a corporate etiquette training firm, suggests a brief note that follows this template:

“During the past five years, I have had the pleasure of being part of the XYZ organization. During this time, I have interacted with many wonderful individuals like you. Effective tomorrow, my colleague, Mary Smith, will be assuming my responsibilities. I hope you will enjoy working with her as much as I have. If you would like to stay in touch on a personal basis, my email is....”

This farewell email is professional and gets to the point quickly, without coming across as cold.

 

Farewell Message to Team

On the other hand, you may feel comfortable being vulnerable with your team and coworkers. If so, here is another approach you can take: 

“It’s with mixed feelings that I inform you that my last day at XYZ will be December 31, 202X. I’m leaving to accept a job at ABC company, which will fulfill my lifelong dream of moving to the Bay Area. That said, during my nine years at XYZ, I’ve learned so much, met so many great colleagues, and will be forever grateful for the opportunity. Please do keep in touch; you can reach me at [email] or [cell phone]. I wish you only the very best in the future.”

This is a good template to use when you want to include more personal reasons for the decision. 

 

Informal Farewell Message

If you enjoy close relationships with your team and coworkers, don’t be afraid to invite them to stay in touch in a more informal manner:

“I want to let everyone know that I’ve accepted a new job and will leave XYZ on December 31. Ever since starting here five years ago, I’ve been wowed by this team and the work we’ve done. The atmosphere here is special — no other way to say it. My next post will be CTO at ABC company, and I’m moving to Austin, Texas. I’ll share updates on social media, and if you have any cool recos for the Austin area, please share. I’ll miss you all.”

As long as you don’t feel like this is crossing your boundaries, people will appreciate you opening up and allowing them to remain a part of your life. 

 

Farewell Message to Close Coworkers

You can also send a goodbye email to a coworker you’ve grown close to during your time working together. The body of the email can go something like this:

“As you know, I’ll be leaving my role as [position] on [date]. I wanted to take a moment to express how meaningful you’ve made my time here at [company]. I’ll miss our daily coffee conversations, as well as your sincerity and kindness. While I’m closing out this current chapter in my career and moving on to another opportunity, I hope we’ll remain close. Please know I’m always just a text or phone call away. Looking forward to many more great conversations to come!” 

If you want to remain in touch with an individual above you, such as your manager, you may want to take a slightly different angle with your farewell message: 

“As you know, my last day will be on [date]. While I’m excited for this next step in my career, I’ll always look back on my time at [company] with fondness. Because of your advice and encouragement, I’ve grown so much and will be forever grateful for the support you’ve given me. You’ve instilled in me the confidence to take on a new position with more responsibilities, so I realize how lucky I’ve been to have you as my manager and can’t thank you enough. I do hope we can remain in touch. You can reach me at [email]. Please don’t be a stranger, and I wish you and the team all the best moving forward.”

While this email is similar to a farewell message to a coworker, it also reflects the recipient’s managerial position by taking on a more polite tone rather than an intimate one. Every workplace is different, but you’ll generally want to refrain from being too casual or personal when sending a goodbye email to your manager or another higher-ranking employee.

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