A reader writes:
I have to send the “farewell” mass internal e-mail to my co-workers. You recently wrote about what should be in a resignation letter. I am curious what you would say about the mass internal e-mail bidding goodbye. What do you think is appropriate/inappropriate? What’s the best way to wrap things up?
Ugh, the mass internal goodbye email. I prefer short and sweet — “wanted to let you know that I’m leaving on X date, moving on to do Y, enjoyed my time here, see Z with questions about logistics until my replacement starts.”
But I’ve also worked places that elevated the mass internal goodbye email to an art form — people routinely sent multi-paragraph treatises reflecting on their time there, what they learned, who helped them along the way, their bittersweet emotions at leaving, etc.
Handle it in accordance with what feels comfortable to you, with some consideration to what the norms are in your workplace. Obviously, if the long-form goodbye email is the norm in your office and you send a curt one-line “My last day will be March 10,” expect people to read all kinds of things into it. But that doesn’t mean you have to compose an epic ode to your coworkers; it just means you throw in an additional line or two to soften it.
And if you’re wondering if you should cite your reason for leaving, go for it — if those reasons are about moving, taking a new job, or leaving the workforce (to retire, take care of family members, etc.). You should not cite reasons for leaving if they’re about hating your job, your manager, or your coworkers.
(The most amusing goodbye email I’ve ever seen was from a guy who spent paragraphs thanking numerous people who no longer worked there themselves, some of whom had been gone for years.It clearly read as an F-you to his present coworkers.)
Really, the main rule is to stay professional, don’t say anything inflammatory (either directly or implied), and ask yourself what your next employer would say if they read it.