We spend many years planning for our retirement with budgeting and saving. But when the time comes we haven’t given much thought about all the aspects, considerations and the best way of Announcing Your Early Retirement.
At times of frustration we have all fantasized. “I can’t wait to retire without notice and tell them where to shove this job”. But the reality can be a little more complicated.
In the not so distant past it was easier. Folks worked until they hit pension eligibility at 30 years of service. There was little surprise when a retirement shortly followed. Now that situation isn’t as common. There are now things to consider about making the big Early Retirement Announcement.
The 2 things you must first put some thought to:
- What is a proper amount of notice to give your employer?
- What is the best way to exit and word your announcement while not burning any bridges? You do want to leave open future opportunities so you will have the option to live the retire early and often lifestyle.
Announcing Your Early Retirement – How Much Notice (Time) To Give
In a world where employers have adopted a policy of terminating employees with little or no notice, it seems funny that we should have to give this any thought. If you are at a point in your career or position where you could care less about your employer then maybe you won’t. There’s no law that says you have to give notice. But depending on employment benefit processes, there may be business time frame requirements that come into play and you will have to wait to receive any retirement benefits you’ve earned.
Aside from that, the other problem with a no notice retirement is you are probably part of a team and you most likely like most of your team-mates. Your sudden departure will just mean they pay the price. Not the company or the management you may have a problem with.
Another consideration is that retiring early means there has most likely been a career full of good and dedicated work. For many that means they have a workplace legacy representing their career and don’t want to do anything to tarnish it.
When Announcing Your Early Retirement the amount of time you should give depends on the level of importance your job or position is.
- If you are a lower-level titled employee you can give the standard resignation 2-weeks-notice. That should be acceptable.
- If you are higher up the company food chain, then you should consider how long it will take to find a suitable replacement for you. This could be months of notice.
- If your job is project oriented, then consider key deliverable timelines and the possibility of being assigned a new long-term project, one you know you can’t or don’t want to stay until completion.
The idea is to leave knowing you did what was necessary to facilitate a smooth transition.
Warning! Whenever giving a long retirement notice you may find your remaining work experience negatively affected
Having the best of intentions and giving a long notice may cause regrets. Your employer and team might start treating you like a lame duck. You may be left out of critical planning and forward working projects that you care deeply about. If that is something that would bother you, then there is one thing you can try.
- Tell your boss that you are tentatively thinking about retiring on “date” . Say you are not 100% certain yet but want to give a heads-up now of your retirement plans. Also explain that you would like to reserve the right to change your mind. Ask to keep things quiet for now. Also ask if they have a date they would like to have or need to have your final decision by.
Depending on the employer they may or may not accept this announcement strategy but it’s worth trying. Then you may be viewed as you always have been viewed until just before go-time. If your manager didn’t offer you a final “decision-by” date then be sure to set a drop dead “I am definitely leaving” announcement date of your own. Your manager will certainly be wondering what is going on as you approach the tentative retirement date you mentioned.
Finally, those retiring from a toxic work environment need to be very cautious about how much notice they give. It can be easy to allow emotional urges let things fly when you are getting close to your planned milestone. If things are bad, then it could get worse. I’ve heard stories where people were fired once they announced their retirement intentions. If you are in a toxic environment then don’t say or do anything that will jeopardize your chances of reaching your planned retirement date and goals. Sadly there is little to stop an employer from firing you. If it’s done in a way that screws you out of retirement benefits then you will be spending the first part of your retirement searching for a good attorney.
Announcing Your Early Retirement – The Best Way to let Them Know
Schedule an in-person private meeting with your manager. When I retired the first time my manager was someone in a different State so I scheduled a conference call. This can be a formal or informal meeting. It Depends on how high up the corporate food chain you are and/or your relationship with your manager. I believe for most people this will be an informal conversational discussion. You should figure out what to expect based on your unique employment situation and then act accordingly.
For my first early retirement I was a Lead Engineer and had an informal conference call. I gave a one month notice. This allowed enough time for work-transition and their planning.
You should always let your manager know first about your retirement plans. If you start telling your co-workers it will get around. Once you schedule this meeting with your manager it may be awkward if they have already heard through the office grapevine of your plans to retire.
At some point management will most likely release an official retirement announcement. You should personally tell your close co-workers or team yourself before that happens.
I wanted my team to all hear it at the same time. I made m retirement announcement during one of our staff meetings very shortly after my meeting with my boss.
You most likely won’t be able to quickly notify everyone in your work circles and word will spread quickly. Therefore you may want to draft personalized retirement announcement emails in advance. That way you can immediately send it to your selected group of professional colleagues and co-workers.
Announcing Your Early Retirement – Write a Formal Retirement Letter
Most company Human Resource (HR) departments will need a formal letter of your intentions to retire. This is so they can put it in your file. Make sure you include specific dates so that they can figure out any unpaid sick pay or vacation days you have coming to you. Also key is including your contact and mailing information. Especially if you plan on moving once retired. This way you will be sure to get your W2s, any checks, and other important career and work related documents that you will need after retirement.
With my first retirement there was still a diminished pension benefit left. I just had to go through the company process to request that. My wife’s company had her use their standard resignation form. These were very formal processes and had the necessary contact, address and date of retirement info. It took the place of writing a formal retirement letter.
Your company may have a similar process in place. Check with your manager, union, or HR group. If you need to write up and send something formal it can be as simple as this sample retirement letter:
Notification of Intent to Retire
Address (Home Address for any post-retirement mail or last payroll check)
City, State, Zip Code
Date (Date of the letter)
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
I am writing this letter to tell you that I will be retiring effective (the date [month/day/year]).
It has been a pleasure working for (your company name). I appreciate all the support that was provided to me during my time here as part of (your company name).
Although I am happily looking forward to my retirement, I will genuinely miss being part of our team and the company.
If there is anything that I may be of any assistance either before my retirement or after, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am happy to give any help that I can to ensure a smooth transition.
Your Name (Signature if writing a hard copy letter)
(Note: This sample retirement letter is for guidance and informational purposes only. Please edit any retirement letters or other correspondence to meet or fit your company’s requirements and your own personal situation. Never vent or say anything negative. Keeping your letter positive about your retirement intentions may become useful if needed in a legal situation.)
For some, officially announcing or sending a letter of intent to retire will trigger a request to schedule a time for one last chance to pick your brain before leaving. There’s a right way and wrong way to handle your retirement exit interview, so be prepared.
The flip side to that is you trigger your boss asking you to delay your retirement. That too requires considerations before accepting an offer to stay longer.
After Announcing Your Early Retirement – The Non Business Side of Things
Once the Cat is out of the bag prepare for the emotional roller coaster thrill ride.
If we are lucky we get to experience voluntary retirement at least once in our lives. It does come with emotions and feelings that swing in different directions.
First you need to be ready for people treating you differently. You may be excluded from things and you should not expect to be asked to help find your perfect replacement. Your company may wait until after you leave to look for your replacement. If you are leaving a job you cared dearly about you may feel a bit let down by this. Get over it.
If a list of candidates is floating around and you have an opinion on who you think is best, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF unless asked.
Concentrate on what you are retiring to. Make yourself available to help out and if asked to aid then do so. If your replacement is brought on before you leave, don’t try to offer a bunch of suggestions if you are not asked for any. Keep things to the detail level. Let them do what they need to do.
Prepare yourself to answer a lot of non-business questions
- What will you do next?
- What does your spouse think about this?
- Are you sure this is the right thing to do?
- Don’t you think you are just a bit crazy to retire this early?
I certainly was asked these questions many times and I would answer that it’s never early enough to retire. I explained my plans where I am open to starting an encore career at some time down the road and I believe retiring early and often is the best way to live. The world is full of opportunity. Those answers usually worked.
You are walking away from what was a big part of your life. You shouldn’t think too much about how others react. Most people may try to avoid you because saying goodbye is difficult.
Make sure you talk to those you really want to talk to or personally thank the day before or early on your last day.
When the time comes for your last walk out of the building with your small box of personal items don’t be surprised if nobody walks out with you for a last chat.
Both of my retirements ended with me turning in my laptop and badge at 4PM and going to my desk to grab my effects. A few folks I passed gave me a little wave or nod and I walked out to my car by myself. Perhaps that is as it should be.
In Closing: Congratulations, you have successfully escaped the rat race.
Time to refocus on you, your plans, and your future. You did everything right to get to this place of financial independence and Announcing Your Early Retirement. Now it’s time for the prize. The rest of YOUR LIFE on YOUR TERMS.