We’ve all seen the parting e-mails from employees who leave the company for one reason or another. Some are short and sweet, some are longer. But are these notes a risk?


Over the span of my career, I’ve read many goodbye e-mails. These are the (usually) globally-addressed e-mails that exiting employees send out as they’re leaving the company. I find them pretty interesting. First of all, with all the hypersensitivity that HR has to exercise, I wonder why more companies haven’t put the kibosh on these e-mails.

It seems like, in the wrong hands, they could be deadly: “It’s been nice working with all of you. By the way Donna, you’re making $20,000 less than Tom, who’s doing the same job you are.” Or maybe: “Most everyone has been genuinely great to work with. Except for Dexter.” And even: “Good luck to everyone here. I’ll be shocked if this sorry excuse for a company lasts through the year.”

Most of the time, though, goodbye e-mails are pretty classy, with folks expressing gratitude for the learning opportunities the job gave them. Some, however, remind me of Academy Award speeches with tear-inducing recognition to all the little people who made that person’s job success possible: “I will hold the memory of you all in my heart, and the light of that will guide me through any obstacles that life places in my path.” I received one goodbye e-mail along those lines that was almost 200 words long. And it wasn’t from a CIO or anyone near that stature.

Then there are the globally addressed e-mails that make you want to ask, “Who are you?”

So what do you think? Do you think goodbye e-mails are a good idea? Are they harmless or a hotbed for trouble?