If a co-worker, friend, or former colleague is retiring, consider sending them a note of congratulations. Even though retirement is a positive move, saying goodbye to a long-time job, and leaving colleagues that likely have become friends, is a big step, and one worthy of acknowledgment.
Why Write a Retirement Congratulations Letter
If you're unsure if you should send a note, think about it this way. Just like getting a new job or promotion, graduating, getting married, having a child, or any other major life shift that warrants congratulations, retirement is a major life shift and merits congratulations.
Hopefully, the retiree is full of excitement for their next step in life, but there may also be ambivalence about embarking on a new phase in one's life. Retirement is unchartered territory, and receiving a thoughtful and appreciative note can be very meaningful to the person who receives it.
Retirement does not mean that a person cannot still be a valuable connection — a retiree can provide mentorship to you and will likely maintain relationships with other contacts. Who knows, you may have an opportunity to reach out to the retired colleague in the future to ask for an introduction, favor, or advice.
What to Include in Your Letter
In your letter of congratulations, you can express gratitude for the work the person has done, and wish them all the best in the years ahead. If you're sending a note to a retiring co-worker, or someone you manage, your congratulations note is an opportunity to express appreciation for the employee's help and contributions to the company.
It's common in retirement notes to mention the number of years the retiree worked at the company.
Your letter of congratulations is also an opportunity to pass along all your contact information so that the two of you can continue to keep in touch.
Here are some more tips for writing a retirement congratulations letter:
- Be timely: It's easy to put this kind of task on your to-do list, and then have it drop off. After weeks pass, it'll be harder to write - and once months go by, it may no longer feel relevant. Skip the procrastination and write it shortly after you hear the news. This is probably the easiest time to write it since your emotions about the person's retirement will be fresh in your mind.
- Be clear and concise: Start off your letter by saying why you're writing (to express congratulations). You can then share some personal memories and note how much the retiree has done. If it's appropriate, mention things you'll miss about the retiree, from grabbing coffee together to their help reviewing contracts. No need to be too effusive; be sincere in your appreciation. Aim to make your letter no longer than a page in length.
- Do some research: If you are a manager, and sending a formal letter on behalf of the company, it can be helpful to reach out to the retiree's colleagues, customers, and clients for more insight. Then, in your letter, you can use that knowledge. You might say, "I was touched by how profoundly you'd touched clients — many of them spoke fondly of your hands-on commitment to ensuring the product worked for them." Or, "So many of your colleagues mentioned your understated mentorship — you were always available to read through another draft of an email to make sure it was perfect, even when it wasn't a project you were directly involved in." These details make your letter more personal and sincere.
- Include your contact info: This will make it easy to stay in touch.
- Let your relationship dictate the format: If you're writing on behalf of the company, a business letter format makes sense. But if you're a close colleague, a handwritten card or letter may make more sense. And for co-workers that you are not very close with, a short email expressing congratulations and your good wishes may make the most sense.
Here are two sample congratulations notes you can use for inspiration. The first is appropriate for someone you are close to, and the second is a more formal email note, acknowledging the hard work and efforts of a colleague. Make adjustments to fit your particular situation and relationship.
Informal Retirement Congratulations Letter Example
Congratulations on your retirement! You have been a dedicated and appreciated employee of the Media Rich Public Relations Company for 25 years and your collegial good spirit will certainly be missed. That said, as a colleague who has become a friend, I'm happy you'll now have more time to spend with your family.
Enjoy your retirement and I can't wait to hear what's next for you!
Formal Retirement Congratulations Email Example
Subject: Retirement Congratulations
Congratulations on your retirement from Helpful House Settlement Group. You have made such a difference in the lives of so many children when they needed someone the most. You proved that it doesn't take much to make a big impact in someone's life.
It's wonderful that you will continue helping others through your volunteer work and I applaud you for your efforts to give back.
We will all miss your smiling face and hope that you'll drop by to visit us when you have the time.