Have you ever had to say goodbye to a valuable team member? There are usually mixed emotions for all parties involved — this includes the person leaving and the team hearing about the departure. Just as someone should resign in a professional manner, a company and especially leadership should handle the resignation professionally. Let this be a time that you extend your philosophies and culture even further as you support your departing employee.

I forge bonds with each of our team members, and it can be challenging for me when someone leaves the firm. Luckily, with low turnover and high tenure rates, I don’t have to deal with it that often. When it is time to move on, I return to our core principles of gratitude. When I focus on having gratitude for their time spent with us, it shifts the energy of the loss into a positive revitalized feeling.
Below are some ideas on how to wish departing team members well as they begin their new chapter.

  1. Send a handwritten letter of gratitude and be specific in why you are grateful for their service. In one such letter, I cited a project I had worked on with the person leaving. I stated how much I appreciated the careful nurturing attitude he shared while working with a sensitive client.
  2. Send a gift of gratitude. When my long-term internal team member left, I sent a package filled with elements that represented some of her favorite things. The beach, horses, and shopping were all included.
  3. Offer to give a positive reference. This shows the person that you appreciate their hard work and that you are willing to share your experience with future employers.
  4. Host a going away lunch, dinner, or happy hour. Taking time out of our busy schedules to honor their time and celebrate their upcoming adventure is very meaningful. Bringing the team together keeps things transparent and supports current and future connections.
  5. Compile a list of gratitude from other team members. Whether a card or a poster board, having multiple messages of appreciation from co-workers will leave a lasting impact.

Think about the person leaving and tailor the way you honor them to meet what would best suit them. By taking an elevated approach, the transition will be one filled with kindness. We never know when we can cross paths again, so focusing on gratitude and honoring employee departures is always a win scenario.

To find out how you can reduce your turnover rates and create a thriving culture, contact me at [email protected]


  • Kerry Wekelo

    COO, Actualize Consulting

    KERRY WEKELO, MBA, is the Chief Operating Officer at Actualize Consulting, a financial services firm. Her book and program, Culture Infusion: 9 Principles for Creating and Maintaining a Thriving Organizational Culture and latest book Gratitude Infusion, are the impetus behind Actualize Consulting being named Top Company Culture by Entrepreneur Magazine, a Top Workplace by The Washington Post, FORTUNE Best Small & Medium Workplaces™, and Best and Brightest ELITE National Winner in Communication and Shared Vision category. In her leadership, Kerry blends her experiences as a consultant, executive coach, award-winning author, mindfulness expert, and entrepreneur. Kerry has been featured on ABC, NBC, NPR, The New York Times, Thrive Global, SHRM, Inc., and Forbes.