The Goodbye Card Conundrum: Why must I sign?

Anyone who knows me personally or via work will know that I have a long held policy of not signing those large novelty cards that are sent around every time someone leaves the employ of an employer.

To say that, at times, I have copped some serious stick for this stance would be an understatement. Indeed, on one occasion at a previous employer, my views on the “farewell” card led to a fireside chat with the CEO.

My objection though is pretty simple and, in my view, entirely uncontroversial: I do not wish to celebrate the leaving of a work colleague and thus will not sign a document that does so.

Of course there are different types of departures of a work place but that central principle holds true in all of those cases in my view. If the person is leaving to work for a competitor then what is there to celebrate about? If the person is leaving to do something different why would I want them to leave? If the person is leaving in bad terms then why would I wish them luck? AND if I have never spoken more than 3 words to the person isn’t it all a bit disingenuous?

What is it about us socially that makes it a requirement of working life to lionise the departure of a work colleague and, indeed, put in for a collection and gift when they do so? In no other social construct does one get a card when they leave: think about your last relationship break up or the last time you changed sporting teams as examples. Does the person “leaving” get a card and a present then? I think not.

I have been told that taking the position I do is unfriendly but I reject that because if I am the persons friend I will still see them out of work.

I just don’t get, I guess, how it became an unwritten law of the workplace jungle that one receives a card and a present when they leave and probably I will never get it.

One last thought for the bosses out there: assume that you have a work force of 100 staff and it takes 10 minutes per person to read the card, compose a message and put money in the envelope for the collection. By my count, excluding the time of the person it is who organises the card, the effort of getting a departure card signed accounts for some 16 hours of lost productivity. That is an interesting stat isn’t it?

I have no doubt that many of you will think I am just being a cranky old bastard with this but I am genuinely interested in your views on this so please feel free to leave your comments.

PostScript: Before someone jumps on me about this I concede that I have made an exception to this rule on the odd occasion but those exceptions were made in very specific circumstances.

4 responses

  1. To me, it’s nothing at all to do with why they are leaving or where they are going. It’s simply a personal message from you to them, wishing them the best and (if you are close to them) saying you’ll miss them.

    I keep all of mine, coz I’ve had many an amusing comment put in my cards. It reminds me of the great people i worked with.

    Take the corporation out of it, and it’s simply a longlasting personal message of goodwill.

    So I have to respectfully disagree with you here B-Bear.

    • I take your point but to me, if you wish to give the person leaving a personal message, you should do so by way of a personal note rather than a giant public novelty card. I have done so recently where I wrote a letter to a staff member who was leaving.

      I do concede though that the keepsake value is there.

      • I love a good keepsake.

        I tend to do a coffee catch up and sign the card for people. Great thought provoker topic

  2. I think if you are consistent in this and you says personal goodbye to those who matter, I don’t see a problem. Personally I like to sign the cards and leave a personal note, but each to their own.

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