12 key steps to kindly tell coworkers you're leaving

Updated on August 23, 2023
7 simple steps to kindly tell coworkers you’re leaving

Most people form friendships at work that last a lifetime, and it can be hard to say goodbye to your coworkers when it is time to leave your job.

Also, deciding between being loyal to a company with fellow coworkers and taking on a big opportunity can involve a certain amount of guilt that you are not ready for.

Well, the reality is that you can tell your coworkers that you are leaving without fear that they will feel betrayed. If you are friends with some of them, they would understand.

Just be honest but don't brag if you are switching to a better-paid job. Also, make sure to inform your direct manager first.

Let's try to waive that heavy weight off your shoulders! Here I will tell you all about how to make your departure as smooth and painless as possible for you and your coworkers.

Is it OK to tell coworkers you're leaving?

Is it OK to tell coworkers you're leaving

It's perfectly OK to tell your coworkers you're leaving. However, make sure that your direct manager has given you the green light to do so.

Talk to them first and ask when you can make the announcement to your colleagues.

But how to tell your coworkers you're leaving when it feels like you are betraying them?

Well, it may not even come as big news to some of your coworkers – if you are close, they might know how you feel about your current job and that you are checking other opportunities.

When to tell coworkers you're leaving

It is best to tell your coworkers that you will be leaving about 1 or 2 weeks before your final work day.

However, it's best to make the announcement after you have discussed the matter with your boss or manager.

How do you announce to the team that you are leaving?

To announce to your coworkers that you will be leaving, there are 3 appropriate options.

  • Use the opportunity during your routine weekly team meeting.
  • Ask for everyone’s attention at the end of a workday and announce it.
  • Send an email to all your coworkers explaining that you've decided to leave.

Perhaps it would not be appropriate to make the announcement during your lunch break or during a serious work meeting.

How to tell coworkers you're leaving

How do you announce to the team you are leaving

Here are all the steps that you can take to handle your leaving announcement smoothly.

1. Tell your team manager first

It's best to tell your direct manager that you wish to resign before you tell anybody else.

This way they will be able to think about who will take over your duties – another team member or a new recruit.

Arrange a meeting in person, if the circumstances allow it. A call is another option if you are working remotely.

They will be able to tell you when you will be able to announce your decision to the rest of the team.

Now that your boss knows, they could help you with a plan on how to announce it the best way. Don't be shy to ask for their advice or share your intentions.

2. Don't feel guilty

Even if you have made friends at work, you are not a traitor for leaving your job. And telling your colleagues about your departure on time can make all the difference.

This will only benefit both sides: on their end to plan what to do about the vacancy sooner, on yours – to have a clear conscience.

3. Wait for the right moment

Normally you should tell your colleagues one to two weeks before your last day at work. As per your manager's instructions, wait for the appropriate time.

It would be best to make the announcement when all (or at least most) team members are present. This can be during your weekly team meeting or a conference call.

4. Say the right things

You are still not sure how to do it? Well, it makes a huge difference if you take the time to show gratitude and remind them of the good times you had.

Always part on good terms but be sure to keep it sweet and short.

If it so happens that you were in a leading role in the team – they surely will have millions of questions for you, so take the time to answer them as transparently as possible.

5. Return to “business as usual”

The best way to reassure your colleagues is to remain professional till your last day – keep up with your performance and remain productive.

I understand how tempting it could be to start slacking but do your best for the sake of your coworkers.

Nothing becomes evident faster than a lack of motivation. And it spreads way quicker than you think.

6. Send a goodbye email

On your last workday, follow up with a neat goodbye email to your entire department. Again, use this opportunity to thank your coworkers and show gratitude.

Make sure to leave your contact details and reassure them you'll be in touch. Use the chance to exchange your LinkedIn contacts and even ask for recommendation letters, they are always needed!

7. Avoid any bad-mouthing

Maybe you did not have the best coworker relationship with some of the people but this is now all behind you. Don’t be tempted to say the things that are on the back of your mind.

Besides, your coworkers could feel nervous that you are leaving, so any unneeded bad comments might leave them with the feeling there's trouble in the company they don't know about.

8. Be careful about the details that you are sharing

Workplace friendships can get complicated when an element of competitiveness is introduced.

That's why it would be best to withhold some details about the future of your career such as salary, benefits, and any other perks.

9. Stay away from potential gossip

Talks about salary and workload complaints are a big no-no. Oversharing could involve you in unpleasant gossip at work.

And this can lead to workplace jealousy and conflicts. Burning bridges is never a good thing. Life can take turns you never expected and you may meet the same people on the way up or down.

How to say goodbye to coworkers when leaving a job

How to say goodbye to coworkers when leaving a job

When leaving a job, the best way to say goodbye to your coworkers is in person. During your last workdays, you will have plenty of opportunities to talk to your coworkers.

You can say goodbye to each person that you feel connected to, be it professionally or on a semi-personal level.

1. Remember to express gratitude

So what do you say to coworkers when you leave? Whenever you talk to somebody or a group of people, if the conversation shifts towards your departure, you can use the opportunity to thank your coworker(s) for the time you worked together – especially if you learned something from them.

2. Say you'd love to stay in touch

Nowadays, staying in touch with people is easier than ever. Be it through LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media, there are all kinds of ways to retain the meaningful relationships that you have formed with previous coworkers.

3. Consider throwing a small gathering

If you are close with some of your coworkers, then you can arrange a small after-hours gathering. If there is a bar or a restaurant near your office, that would be perfect.

It is a great way to lift up the spirits, especially if some colleagues are a bit sad about your departure.

What to tell coworkers when you quit

So, what do you say to coworkers when you leave? If you have a hard time finding the right words, then here are a few examples of appropriate statements to share with your coworkers when you're quitting.

"I wanted to let you all know that I've decided to resign from my position here. I've been offered an exciting opportunity at another company that aligns with my career goals, and I've decided to pursue it."

"I have some news to share with you all. I've accepted a new position at a different organization, and I'll be leaving our team in a couple of weeks. It's been a pleasure working with you, and I appreciate all the support and camaraderie we've shared."

"I've made the difficult decision to move on from my role here and explore new opportunities in my career. I wanted you to hear it from me first, as our time working together has been invaluable to my personal and professional growth."

"After careful consideration, I've decided to take on a new challenge outside of this company. I want you to know how much I've enjoyed working with each of you and how much I've learned from our collaboration."

"I wanted to personally share the news that I'll be leaving the company in a few weeks to pursue a new opportunity. It's been an amazing experience working with all of you, and I'll cherish the memories and friendships we've built during my time here."

How to write a goodbye email to coworkers

A last-day email to coworkers is a common courtesy. When the time comes to write it, remind yourself why you are doing it – this is good professional etiquette, good for networking, and it can help you to share a transition plan and clear up potential confusion about you leaving. Here's how to do it:

1. Give it a simple subject line

There's no need to explain why that could be the most important feature of an email. Be short and on point – “Farewell message” or “Goodbye letter” are simple and effective options.

2. Add a short intro

Here's your chance to mention that this is your last day in the company and the position you had, it's safe to add the years you spent in that position or in the company as a whole.

You can choose to mention your future plans but be vague.

3. Show appreciation and gratitude

Mention the successes you had as a team, and remind them of the good times you`ve had and the challenges you've overcome together.

Now is the time for special thanks - show gratitude to the people who helped you in a special way, and explain why.

4. Include any other important details

If you are aware of who will inherit your responsibilities, and it's not classified, now is the chance to redirect the communication to them. Be brief - no extra details are needed.

5. Share some contact details

You can leave your LinkedIn and/or personal email address, so anyone who wants to stay in touch can reach you. Skip the phone number for security reasons.

6. Wish your coworkers well

Wish everyone success in their endeavors and say goodbye in an honest way. It's time to say farewell. There is a finality in actually typing the words and pressing the send button.

Goodbye message to colleagues on your last working day – example email draft

Subject: Goodbye letter

Dear colleagues,

My last day in [Company name] is approaching, I'll be here until [date]. It's been
[a number of years] since I've started working here and it's now time for me to take on the next challenge!

As much as I'm excited for the adventure that awaits me, I have to say I'm sad to say goodbye to you. The best part of my experience in the company is the great colleagues here and the friends I've made!

You have always been there for me when I needed support and no success would have had a meaning if I hadn't shared it with you! Without your friendship, mentoring and collaboration I would not have achieved so much as a professional. [Add any awards, special achievements].

I'm sure I'll see you all at work before I leave, but if I don’t – be sure that I have a lot to take with me and would like to stay in touch. You can reach me at [LinkedIn] and [email address]. [add plans for a farewell party]

Don't be a stranger and do share updates about your work, I'm sure many more successes await you! I will also be happy to help should you need anything or want to catch up.

Goodbye, and thank you for everything!

[Your name]

Of course, if your company has a specific structure required for goodbye letters, you should stick to it.

It's very important to be able to “read the audience” and decide whether it's appropriate to use inside jokes or humor whatsoever, or whether you should rather keep it on the formal side.

My experience telling coworkers I was leaving

Believe it or not, I have been working for the same international tech company for over 10 years now.

But before that, I was a novice at a small start-up company for a year or so. It was a small team of young, capable, and friendly professionals full of potential.

So let me tell you what it was like telling my coworkers that I was leaving.

It was the day I had been both dreading and anticipating for weeks. I knew I had to announce my resignation to my coworkers, and the mere thought of it filled my chest with a mix of excitement and anxiety.

I was leaving the small start-up where I had spent countless hours pouring my heart into my work to pursue my dream career in the tech industry.

The day began like any other, but as the hours passed, I felt the weight of effective communication with my colleagues becoming more and more essential.

My lovely coworkers had become like a second family to me, and maintaining professional relationships during my departure was crucial. Yet, I couldn't bear the thought of our bonds being severed by my leaving.

I took a deep breath, I gathered my thoughts, and considered the best way to leave on good terms with my coworkers.

As I pondered, I remembered the countless moments we had shared, the laughter echoing through the office, and the inside jokes that only we would understand. Sharing the news of my departure with my office mates would be no easy task.

As the day wore on, I knew it was time to express my gratitude and maintain connections with the people who had supported and encouraged me from the beginning. I called for a team meeting, my hands trembling and my voice quivering as I began to speak. I said something along the lines of:

"Dear friends, I have something important to share with you today." I paused, taking in the curious and concerned faces of my coworkers. "I've been offered a position as a project manager at [UNDISCLOSED COMPANY NAME]. It's an incredible opportunity, and I have decided to accept the offer."

I could see the shock and surprise on their faces, but I continued, determined to follow resignation announcement etiquette. Then I said:

"I want to thank each and every one of you for the incredible support and guidance you've provided me during my time here. You've all played a crucial role in my growth, and I will never forget the memories we've shared."

My voice cracked, and I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I saw the emotional reactions of my team. I continued, "I promise to stay in touch, and I hope we can continue to support one another on our respective journeys."

As the meeting came to an end, we shared heartfelt farewells and warm embraces. Strategies for breaking the news to my team had been swirling in my head all day, but now, as I looked around the room, I realized that nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming emotions that filled my heart.

As I walked out of the office for the last time, I knew that I was not just leaving a job, but also a part of my heart.

I could only hope that my journey as a project manager would be as fulfilling and enriching as the time I spent with my lovely coworkers at that small start-up.

And with that, I stepped into a new chapter of my life, carrying the memories of my time at the start-up with me wherever I went.

Frequently asked questions about telling coworkers that you are leaving

How can I handle coworkers' reactions to my departure?

It's natural for coworkers to have various reactions when you're leaving. Just be honest, understanding, and empathetic. Listen to their concerns or feelings and respond thoughtfully. Remember that your departure might be an emotional time for them too, so being sensitive to their reactions can help maintain goodwill and strong relationships.

Should I discuss my reasons for leaving with coworkers?

It's up to you how much detail you want to share about your reasons for leaving. It's generally good to provide some context, but avoid oversharing or divulging confidential information. Focus on the positive aspects of your new opportunity or the growth potential it offers, rather than any negative reasons for leaving your current job.

How can I maintain professional relationships after leaving?

To maintain professional relationships after your departure, make an effort to stay in touch. Connect with your former coworkers on social media platforms like LinkedIn, and occasionally check in with them to see how they're doing. You could also attend networking events where you might run into them or suggest meeting up for coffee or lunch. By keeping the lines of communication open, you'll continue to nurture those relationships and maintain a valuable professional network.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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