(Exactly) What to Say When Someone Retires

For many people, retiring is a huge milestone and having retirement parties or signing retirement cards for someone in your office is commonplace.

Particularly if they’ve worked in the same place for many years, or even from the beginning of their career, retirement parties can include the whole office and be a huge thing.

Figuring out what to say when someone retires or when someone leaves a job is something you’ll probably have to do at some point or another.

It can range from a basic greeting to wishing them best with what’s next in their life, but making sure your message is supportive is key.

Here is a full guide of what to say when someone retires so you’ll have your thoughts ready for the next time someone at your company retires.

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1. A Basic Well Wishes on Their Retirement

If you don’t know the person retiring well, a basic well wishes on your retirement will be just fine.

You don’t need to get poetic or in-depth, just acknowledge that you know they are retiring and you wish them all the best with some words meant to encourage people – they’ll take this as a nice supportive gesture and be grateful.

Not everything has to be super wordy or specific, particularly if it’s not appropriate due to your lack of a personal relationship with them.

2. Tell Them To Enjoy Their Retirement

In many cases, retirement gives people more time to pursue their hobbies and to “enjoy” the later years of their life by traveling more or seeing family more and not having to do the 9 to 5 and commute.

If you know that the person retiring is doing so out of choice and will get to enjoy these things, it’s appropriate to say that you hope they enjoy their retirement and use these retirement quotes.

On the other hand, some people are forced to retire due to medical issues or other reasons that mean they can no longer work, and in that case you wouldn’t want to tell them to enjoy their retirement as that could come across as insensitive.

3. Mention Specifically What They’re Doing in Retirement

If you know what the person will be doing with their retirement, like they’ve told you about the European trip they’re going to take or the fact that they’ll have more time for woodworking, you can mention specifically what they’re doing in retirement to show that listen to them and are excited for them to get to do these things specifically.

You could say something like, “Hope you enjoy all of the golfing!” or “Wishing you a great time on your travels. I’ve never been to Italy, but I’ve heard it’s beautiful!”

It’s always nice to be as specific as possible as it makes someone feel valued and like people take an interest in them.

4. Tell Them How Great They Were to Work With

If you worked closely with this coworker, it’s always nice to tell them how much you enjoyed working with them.

“You were awesome to work with all these years and are a true team player” is a nice phrase, or something else specifically about their good traits and how enjoyable you found working alongside them.

5. Mention The Little Ways in Which You’ll Miss Them

If you have a personal connection with them, mentioning the little ways you’ll miss them is a good idea.

Saying something like, “I don’t know who I’ll bond with about grilled cheese day anymore!” or “I’ll miss your smile in the meetings every morning – you always cheered me up!” or “I don’t know who is going to step in to make awkward jokes at client dinners, but they won’t be able to fill your shoes.”

Reference past work memories you have with them and the daily ways in which you interacted.

6. Express Your Gratitude for Their Contributions

Particularly if you are the boss of someone who is retiring, expressing your gratitude for their service and contributions is a great way to make someone feel valued and like their time at a company is ending on a positive note.

Thank them for all that they brought to the team, and specifically mention the major projects they helped push forward or the traits that really improved the team’s skill or morale.

Thanking someone who is retiring can also work well if you’re looking for what to say to someone who’s retiring if they were a mentor to you.

Thank them for all that they taught you and specifically mention lessons that they taught you or things that stick out in your mind that you remember.

Knowing that you’ve had an impact on someone else is a really good feeling and will send someone in retirement feeling like they contributed.

7. Tell Them to Keep in Touch with the Team

If someone is retiring on a good note and you know that they really valued their time at the company, it can be a good idea to remind them that you hope they keep in touch and will always be an honorary member on the team.

For someone who has really created their identity around their job, leaving it, even if they feel it’s time, can cause feelings of loss and not belonging.

Reiterating that you’d love for them to stop by or that you hope they’re going to come to this summer’s chili cookoff can help remind them that they still have a network of people who value them and want to hear from them and this can help in their transition to post-retirement life.

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