What do I write in a retirement farewell card

Coffee cup with the caption 'go get em' on table

What do I write in a retirement farewell card?

Coming up with retirement messages to put in a card when a colleague leaves can be a tricky one to get right. Especially if you’re not nearing retirement yourself. How do you say something sincere without sounding patronising or like a twenty/thirty-something who’s just been handed a random card over the kettle? Tricky business!

The words you write are one thing, but the message you’re sending is something else entirely. And, arguably, much more important. 

So we’ve compiled four types of messages that will help you strike the right note. 

You’ve put in a great stint

These are congratulatory messages. As we all know, reaching retirement age at work – unless you’re the heiress of a fortune or incredibly entrepreneurial from age 16 – is a long old road. So let your colleague know in the card that they’ve achieved something massive! 

Caveat: not in a patronising way. Don’t go OTT – OMG you made it! – to avoid making your colleague sound like they’ve been working for 100+ years, or that you’re surprised they lasted!

If you’re not confident in your abilities as a wordsmith, don’t worry. Here are some examples of how to say congrats on your retirement, without risking cancellation. 

You’ve escaped!

Let’s be real, not all workplaces are rosy. 

Is your retiring colleague frankly blessed to be escaping the madness? Making a joke of their escape can be a fun angle to take in a retirement farewell card. And even if your workplace isn’t awful and it’s a fun and thriving place to be, humour is a great way to differentiate from all the Good luck for your next step! messages that make up the majority of leaving cards.

… and don’t pretend you’ve not written this before. Cookie cutter good luck messages are surely the most common way of saying I have no idea what to write but I’ve been told I have to write something.

Here are some examples of escape-based leaving messages:

You’ll be so missed

Are you genuinely gutted to be losing this person from the office? Then this is the message for you. Being sentimental in a leaving card is actually pretty lovely when you really mean it. So don’t hold back if the person leaving is a massive legend!

Here are a few examples of how you can say to someone that you’re going to miss them dearly:

Thanks a bunch

Has the colleague that’s retiring been a mentor for you? Have you looked up to them since you’ve worked there? A great way to send someone off is to recognise the impact they’ve had on your experience and, of course, to thank them for all they’ve done.

This is especially good if the person leaving was on your team and/or more senior than you. Everyone wants to know they’ve done a good job, right? So this is an opportunity to say all the things that felt too cheesy to say over the water cooler:

OK, now what about the retirement gift?

Check out our blog on what to buy someone as a retirement present for some 10/10 ideas. Or, alternatively, what about removing the risk altogether and setting up a Collection Pot instead? There’s surely no better way to send someone off than getting them something they actually want. 

Just send a link around to the team to collect their cash, then once the Pot is closed, the receiver can just take the money and run as far away from your workplace as they can! 

We’re joking – but transferring the cash to their bank account is one of the options. If the receiver prefers to choose something for themselves, they can do that too! Their Pot can be exchanged for vouchers at up to 60 high street stores. 

It’s a win-win, really.