Goodbye Email

Cartoon Character of mail with hello pose

A mass email is no way to say goodbye

The best of times, the worst of times. Hirings and firings. People coming and people going.

Should you send a goodbye email to your coworkers on your last day at work?

That is a good question. You don’t want to seem rude and just disappear, and you don’t want to seem insincere, either.

If your colleagues really are also your friends, then you’ve told them already that you’re leaving, retiring or going to a new job elsewhere. A final email seems redundant.

If there is someone you want to remain in contact with, you’ve probably already taken them out to coffee or lunch, celebrated with them, or expressed an interest to keep in touch and exchanged contact information. If a colleague is a personal friend, your farewell has been personal; a mass email to everyone is far from personal.

So, is the final good bye via mass email really necessary?

No, it isn’t. In fact, it could be a very bad idea.

When someone sends a mass email saying they are leaving, they often haven’t thought things through. They are probably having an emotional reaction to what is likely a very emotional situation.

Haven’t we all (sadly) been in the situation where there was a large downsizing, and many notices were sent out, complete with packing boxes and one-hour’s notice?

In that situation, you don’t have time for a farewell lunch, or even to exchange contact information with anyone. To be sure, that kind of situation also tends to be highly emotional and likely quite tense, as well. It’s certainly not the time to send out an email that displays your bitterness or anger. A final angry email is a guaranteed way to burn a bridge that should not be burned—a bridge that you may need, later.

On the other hand, a flowery email praising the company, the boss and your coworkers will seem insincere. If the organization was so wonderful, why are you leaving? It will look very calculated, as if you’re leaving your options open in case the new job doesn’t work out. And, if you thank a few key people in your email, how will those you don’t mention feel?

Even if you’re able to write a final email that comes from a sincere place and is well intended, it doesn’t mean you should send it.

Sometimes not everyone is aware that you are leaving, and your email will come as a surprise. Where there is surprise, there is gossip. And gossip is not your friend. Ever.

If you are sending a mass email, people may not even know who you are, and therefore your email will have no relevance to them, short of being a minor irritant. Everyone hates getting mass emails, and if even one person uses “Reply All” to say they will miss you, you’ve annoyed every single person on that list, which is not the response you were going for.

If you really want to say goodbye, make it more personal. Send a select number of handwritten notes to people, thanking them for being great to work with. Or, tell them face-to-face. Sending out a mass email is not the way to seem sincere or genuine and it could burn bridges that you’d rather keep intact.

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4 thoughts on “Goodbye Email”

  1. When I was promoted last year and moved over to the agency corporate office, my co-workers took me to lunch and gave me a going away party; which was really unexpected but also much appreciated. I also had lunches and other one-on-one moments with those that I was closest to before I transitioned.

    I’ll be leaving the company to move out of state by the end of May and I will tell the few people who I’ve become friendly with here as well as those co-workers from my previous position; but other than that no one else really needs to know.

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    In regards to saying good-bye. Having a going away lunch or party for someone when they leave is great for those who are close and do this regularly with them and a group; but do we really know why someone is leaving? Do they hate their job? Are a poor performer? they’re leaving us, and we send them off with a party or drinks, that’s nice.

    My question is, what do you do when you have a NEW employee.
    I started a new job years ago and on my first day, they had a lunch for ME, I got to meet everyone, we got to chat and laugh and it was a nice welcome I think we should welcome when they’re hired, maybe that sets them up for a longer relationship with the company (in a small way). It’s just another thought.

  3. I agree. It’s very common in my group that colleagues who are leaving for whatever reason send a last note to everyone saying how wonderful it was to work with each of us, how we’ll be missed, and please stay in touch. Most of the time it’s a person I’ve never worked with on a project…someone I pass in the hall with a cordial greeting, but nothing more. Right or wrong, gracious or not, the old saying “Out of sight, out of mind” is often true. I love the idea of the personal touch, and leave it at that.

  4. I am retiring next year, and although I don’t want my farewell to be formal, I would like to have a drop in event to say goodbye. That will give me the opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to City staff who are in other Departments. I don’t deal with them every day, but we have worked co-operatively on matters. I prefer this to email because those who feel we have had a relationship can come, rather than me emailing everyone in the organization.

    Hopefully a retirement departure is less fraught with resentment, regret and vitriol.

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