Center for a Secure Retirement
How to Write a Retirement Letter

How to Write a Retirement Letter

As you plan for retirement, making a plan for how and when you will leave your workplace sets a strong foundation for the transition.

A retirement letter can help to manage your employer's expectations for your exit and ensure that you leave a strong legacy. Here's what to consider about putting a thoughtful and professional message down on the page.

What Is a Retirement Letter?

Whenever you leave a job, it's considered professional and polite to write a resignation letter to inform your employers. This kind of documentation gives your workplace formal notice of when you intend to leave. The retirement letter differs in that you are not letting your employer know that you will be moving on to a new workplace but exiting the workforce entirely.

Beyond specifying your last day of work, you will also want to graciously thank your employer, provide any details that they will need to know about your projects, and offer information that will help to assist them with the transition. Many of these elements are common to a typical resignation letter — however, leaving your job because you are retiring means this letter has its own unique considerations.

How to Write Your Retirement Letter

Though you will need to write a letter, this document should not be the first indicator your employer has of your retirement. Discuss your plans in person with your direct supervisor well before you submit a letter. Of course, your level of openness about your retirement plans may depend on your workplace, so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your company's retirement policies before you start discussions with your boss or write your letter.

There are several elements you should include in your letter:

  • Write a physical letter. This is a situation that may require more than an email, since your letter will be a formal notice of your plans and will likely be filed with your Human Resources department.
  • Provide ample notice. While you don't want to inform your employer of your exit too many months prior to your departure date, you do want to give them enough time to find your replacement. The standard notice of two weeks is likely too short for someone who is retiring, as you may be asked to help train a new hire who will take over your role.
  • Express your gratitude. Even if you are excited to leave, your letter should focus on the positives of the experience. Share your appreciation of all you have gained and learned from working there.
  • Describe your achievements. Make sure you also remind your workplace of all that you have done for them. Not only does this help you end on a positive note, but it can also leave the door open for you to take on consulting work in retirement if you so choose.
  • Describe your future plans. Whether you hope to spend your days on the golf course or would like to stay on as a part-time consultant with your employer, letting them know what you are planning for retirement can help set their expectations.
  • Offer your assistance. If you are comfortable helping to find and train your replacement, offer your services to your employer. Your insight could be invaluable, and it will signal to your employer that you want to help.
  • Let them know how to reach you. Include your future contact information. The transition period after you retire may be a bit difficult at your workplace, so having a way to reach you in case of questions is a polite thing to offer if you're willing to share.

Put Your Pen to Planning for Retirement

Even if you have written resignation letters before, crafting a retirement letter is unique. To end your time with your employer on a high note, make sure you provide a formal letter that states your intentions as well as highlights your positive impact in the workplace. In addition to informal conversations with your supervisor, this letter can help ensure a smooth transition for both you and your workplace when you retire.

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