Celebratory end to your career

Despite the restrictions of homeworking, there are fun, original, and surprising ideas for special ways you can say goodbye to colleagues. And that’s good too because it’s really important to say goodbye properly.

The secretariat is often closely involved in organizing a colleague’s departure. Marja Lensink, management board secretary at TNO in The Hague talked to us about her experiences and what they come up with to say goodbye to colleagues.

‘If you look at what’s important for colleagues, it’s being able to say goodbye in a thoughtful, friendly, celebratory, and pleasant way’, explained Marja. That’s become a challenge with so much homeworking and you need to be creative. And each lockdown was different; with measures ranging from strict to not so strict.

So sometimes, we could do that bit extra, but not always. ‘In stricter times, we organized a really small farewell involving a few close colleagues with cakes and a bouquet in the garden. When more was permitted, we arranged a dinner with the retiree, their partner, and the team in a nice restaurant. Despite the fun things we arranged, you do feel the distance. Everyone prefers personal contact and warm words. It’s something people really miss.’

‘Everyone prefers personal contact and warm words.’

‘The pension newspaper was a huge success for us.’

Hugely successful new ideas ‘The pension newspaper was a huge success for us. It was the manager’s idea to produce a celebratory newspaper for the family. Because what do you do for a colleague who is retiring? If someone’s worked here for forty years you really need to celebrate that properly, which is how the pension newspaper idea came about.’

Marja requested items and photos from colleagues and another colleague produced the newspaper in Word. One person submitted a recipe, another a puzzle, and memories and anecdotes were shared in various ways. This created a really nice mix, explained Marja. ‘And no items were submitted twice. Each colleague had different experiences with that person. Although it took quite some time and effort, it’s a really amazing gift. The newspaper was offered in paper and digital form, and was a huge success.’

Looking for even more ideas?

Ask around other departments to see what they do. Share your ideas and inspire each other, because it’s so nice to say goodbye properly; not only for the person leaving but also for all their former colleagues. A few additional suggestions are given below that will also be really fun when we start working partly at the office again.

A tin filled with nice messages

Ask all colleagues to write a personal message on a postcard and collect all the cards in a tin. Tie a nice ribbon around it and have this delivered by a colleague with a nice bunch of flowers.

Massive waving card

Make a personal card with a collage of photos. If you get everyone to send a photo of themselves waving and place them next to each other, it becomes a real celebration. Have the card printed in XL format and send it to the retiree.

Celebrating birthdays

It’s also nice to show that you’re thinking of someone on their birthday. A small gesture goes a long way, such as a personal message for the birthday boy or girl. Or surprise a colleague with a bunch of flowers when they reach a milestone. And what to do when a colleague reaches fifty? Have breakfast in bed delivered!

Speech in Teams and then...

And what about a speech in Teams and then during the speech a colleague rings the doorbell with a present, a bunch of flowers, and an impressive card with all kinds of wishes. That’s also a nice surprise.