Goodbye e-mails

Just finished reading an article in the Wall Street Journal written by an intern who is contemplating what he will write in his goodbye e-mail to his coworkers at the paper. His main point is to remind readers who might be contemplating writing their own goodbye e-mails that these little bits of electronic communication will be permanent. (my favorite quote from the article "Everyone except our legislators realizes that the Internet is forever")

While I understand why an employee would want to write a goodbye e-mail to colleagues, it seems like a practice that would be barred by HR. Sure, some people will write nice messages. Some people won't want to ruffle any feathers on the way out because they hope to keep you as a reference. But some won't. Some employees would use the opportunity to say terrible things about coworkers, supervisors, and the company in general (using your own e-mail system, no less).

Do you have any experience with goodbye e-mails? Do you have a policy regulating them?



  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Only once in the past ten years has an employee sent out a negative goodbye e-mail to my staff. I used it as an opportunity to respond to the other employees with a message along the lines of "I was very disappointed to learn that __________'s experience with us was not a positive one. This was certainly something we would have rather known about during the two years she was employed, not just on her last day. We are committed to making this the best workplace it can be, and welcome any suggestions our employees have."

    Now, I knew she wasn't the happiest employee in the world, but she wasn't the happiest person in the world period. Her worklife probably mirrored her homelife to a great extent. But after she sent her e-mail, it became the elephant in the room. The response to my reply was overwhelmingly supportive (and public, via "reply all"), and I think it ended up galvanizing the group and isolating anyone who felt the same way.
  • Generally, most good-bye e-mails sent by our employees are very positive & pleasant, but we did have one negative one some years ago that was sent out not only to every employee, but also to the board of directors. The person was fired at the end of the day and the supervisor didn't watch to make sure she just collected her personal belongings and left the building, nor had they gotten around to having IT turn off her computer access, and she gave everybody quite an "earful" on what she thought the problems were with her supervisor and the department but also said that she would miss everybody else! I was horrified when I came in and read it the next morning, but luckily most people just dismissed her as kind of a nut and went on with their lives.
  • I have one that may actually be helpful. Employee sent e-mail saying she was resigning and enjoyed working at the company. Employee later filed for UEI. Claim was denied, employee appealed. I'll let you know how much the e-mail helps during the appeal. I think it will pretty hard to overturn the original ruling. Will let you know how it comes out.
  • While I'm not a huge fan of the practice, we have had a few employees do company-wide goodbye emails. Generally, however, they only send the goodbye email to just a few coworkers.

    I can't prove that it's related, but I think the fact that we give them ample room to kvetch in the exit interview form helps mitigate a nasty email full of venting on their last day.
  • Just read an article on the Washington Post about Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. Seems she was fired today by phone. Her response? An email to the entire company telling them exactly what happened. I guess they underestimated her in at least one respect.

    This made me start thinking about termination procedures. What is the standard procedure for your company when a termination is pending? Do you let IT know in advance so a scenario like the one described above can be avoided? What else do you do to smooth the transition?


    To read the article click here.
  • Interesting article Sharon. It brings up so many questions. What e-mail system does Yahoo use? Are employees using Yahoo e-mail or do they pay someone else/use different software? What sort of e-mail policy does this media giant -- whose e-mail system is a cornerstone of the business -- have? How out of touch is this chairman of the board?

    And the irony! At least the CEO was aware of the power of e-mail. Good to know when you work at Yahoo.
  • I can't help wondering how much this email will hurt her in finding another job. The email is straightforward, and mostly just tells the employees goodbye. But will a new board worry about what she might say to their employees?
  • Her post-termination interview with Fortune will hurt her a lot more than the e-mail. In fact, it's already been cited as a possible violation of her "non-disparagement" clause and could cost her $10 mil.
  • [quote=ACU Frank;722933]Her post-termination interview with Fortune will hurt her a lot more than the e-mail. In fact, it's already been cited as a possible violation of her "non-disparagement" clause and could cost her $10 mil.[/quote]

    Double OUCH!!
  • Interesting post. I have never had an employee send or ask to send a "goodbye e-mail". I've assumed they say their goodbyes in person.

    We did have an employee who left us years ago around the end of the year stand up at the staff Christmas party and encourage others to leave if they felt stuck here. I thought that was tacky. Its one thing to be excited for a new opportunity and its another to be insulting.

    That same employee just contacted me asking for a reference....
Sign In or Register to comment.