What is retirement?
Retirement is the time in a working person’s life when they voluntarily leave the workforce.. In the United States, the traditional retirement age is 65, and often there’s a pension or retirement plan to support the retiree once they’re no longer working.
While retirement used to be a short period of rest following a long life of hard work, today many people are retiring younger — or simply living longer — so they can enjoy their post-work years by traveling, taking up new hobbies or spending time with loved ones.
How to celebrate an employee’s retirement
There are plenty of ways you can make an employee’s retirement a memorable occasion, and one of the most popular ways is with a retirement party. This is a company-sanctioned event that traditionally mixes the retiree’s colleagues with their family members to celebrate their achievements and hard work over the years. A nice touch is to invite past colleagues and former bosses so the retiree can truly take a walk down memory lane and enjoy the nostalgia of all they contributed to your business.
The easiest and most environmentally friendly way to get all of these people to the same place at the same time is to send out email invites a month or two ahead of time with all the pertinent details for everyone to mark in their calendars.
What to do at a retirement party
Retirement parties are unique events in that they focus on an employee’s work life and home life — two topics intertwined in the same room for what could be the first time. While it’s important to keep the event work-appropriate, retirement gatherings are typically more heartfelt events than any other company party because, while they’re a celebration, they’re also a goodbye.
It’s traditional to have some members of the company give speeches honoring the retiree and looking back at some of their accomplishments throughout their career. This is often an emotional experience for the individual. Try to include a slideshow of past company events.
Choose people who know the retiree well to deliver these addresses, such as a current boss, former boss or close colleague. Often, they may poke a little bit of fun at the employee for humor, but be careful that nobody verges on disrespect. Offer a guest book for everyone to sign. The retiree can take it with them at the end of the day to remember the event and keep in touch with everyone by asking people to leave an email address or phone number.
A retirement party isn’t complete without a toast, and who you choose to give this salutation is important as well. The toast will be a moment the employee remembers for a long time, so ask someone with a positive relationship with the retiree to deliver this heartfelt honor.
Often, the retiring employee might want a chance to speak as well. Don’t force them if they aren’t comfortable; you want this night to be a wonderful last experience at the company for them. But if they’re interested, clear a time in the itinerary for the retiree to address their colleagues one last time and say their piece about what working there has meant to them and their hopes for the future.
Should you buy gifts?
There’s no official policy around gift-giving for retirement in the workplace unless your company has its own rules. Typically, the entire department comes together to purchase a single gift for the individual so that they receive something meaningful without everyone committing a large sum of money. As a boss, you may want to give a personalized gift of your own that shows your appreciation for the individual’s hard work.
Consider something classy like a bottle of wine and a cheese board to celebrate the occasion, or perhaps the employee’s favorite coffee and a mug that reflects one of their interests. If you have a great relationship with this employee and they’ve added a lot of value to the company, you may want to present them with a more significant gift, like a watch or a gift card to a store or restaurant you know they’d enjoy.
Steer clear of gifts that set an expectation for the employee’s retirement if you don’t know much about their personal life. For example, giving someone a suitcase for future travels is not appropriate because you don’t know if the individual has the financial means or the health to travel.
Happy retirement messages
The most important aspect of sending positive retirement wishes to one of your employees is to acknowledge their work and the value they’ve added to the company. Then, you should ensure that you wish them well for the future as a positive send-off into their next chapter.
Here are a few ideas of appropriate happy retirement messages to get you started:
- Wishing you a long and satisfying retirement.
- It’s been a joy working with you. Wishing you all the best in this exciting new chapter!
- Congratulations, you’ve been promoted — to retirement!
- You will be missed as a valued member of our team. Wishing you all the best in the next phase of your life!
- You are an esteemed member of our company, and we wish you joy, health and happiness in your retirement.
Keep it simple, and don’t include anything too personal in the card or message that could be misconstrued. Professional gratitude and well wishes are the perfect way to send a valued employee into the next chapter of their life.