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Published 15 August 2012 15:35, Updated 16 August 2012 06:56
Sometimes there’s a bit of a queue to get out the door, so what do you write on the 15th leaving card? Photo: Graham Tidy, Canberra Times
What do you do when your office has reached farewell fatigue? When so many people have left that you can no longer be bothered to pull a note out of your wallet and compose a message for the card that appears heartfelt without being trite.
It was bad enough when there was a hiring boom and jobs aplenty but all too often now, people are leaving with redundancy cheques in their hand and an uncertain future.
Many of the people walking out the door were young pups when they started. Some of them are now getting job-seeking advice from their own grown-up children.
It is an emotional time for them and you are probably sad to see them go – but there are so many of them.
If you were to go out for after work drinks with all of them, you’d never get out of the pub to get home to your own family. You may be handing out so much money for presents that it is beginning to challenge childcare fees for the bite it takes out of your weekly wage.
Where once you used to mourn the loss of another friendly face at work, it gets to the point that you become numb.
The ultimate riposte comes in the form of “Who?” penned in to the middle of a farewell card, says human resources manager at Global Construction Services, Sandra Thorp.
It was a funny comment “though not for the person who was leaving”, she says.
HR Manager at Toro, Russell Foote sympathises: “Reminds me of a ‘sad’ farewell occasion [in a past job] when the hat that passed around for a departing colleague collected less than half the amount raised at the same time for the resident cat to be desexed after too many unwanted litters.”
People do notice when the arrangements made for their leaving “do” don’t match up to others.
“Seriously, there can be a real dilemma when perceived value of the farewell arrangements and gift fails to match precedent of other farewells – not necessarily an intention of the actions/message,” Foote says.
Sometimes a poor response is just a matter of timing. The person who organises such things (often the executive assistant) may be away that week. Here’s an attempt to steer you through some of the most common farewell etiquette puzzles:
1. What if you are the reason they are leaving? On the day, go on a management training course. Or take the day off. They don’t want you there and they will only be bitching about you anyway. Why stick around for it?
2. Don’t know what to write in the card?Borrow something from a Google search or keep note of good contributions from others that you can use next time the card comes around (Just make sure you use them first).
3. How much do you donate? It depends on how well you know the departing person and how much you get paid. A good guide is a gold coin or two to someone you hardly know to $20 for someone you have worked closely with – but more if you are senior in the organisation and can afford it. Silver is not on.
4. Do you hug or kiss when they leave? Probably not if you haven’t done it before now.
5. What do you say? A heartfelt “keep in touch” and “let me know how you are getting on” can do well. Also ask if they are on LinkedIn, which saves all that messy stuff about swapping phone numbers you know will never be used.
6. What if you are the one who is leaving and your nemesis is organising your farewell? Hope they are good at fundraising for your present.