Knowing that someone you’ve worked with is retiring sometimes brings mixed feelings. Especially if that person was once your mentor or you worked with them for many years.
When the team is remote, it’s even more difficult, as everyone can’t celebrate in person in one place. So why not have a virtual party to celebrate this event?
- Retirement parties are held in honour of the person who has spent his or her professional life working for or managing a company.
- A virtual retirement party is a great way to celebrate a manager or colleague’s time at the company and their accomplishments.
- It complements the relationship and bond they have formed with co-workers, managers and senior partners.
Virtual Retirement Party Ideas
Considering that retirement is more permanent than resignation or a layoff, the chances of you coming back to work with the departing employee are slimmer.
This is why remote companies should make an employee’s last day of work special. That’s why we’ve compiled some ideas to make your retirement party a success.
Take a screenshot of everyone attending your party. Ask them to strike a funny or normal pose. You can also tell them to send selfies and compile them into a collage to send to the retiring colleague – they’ll definitely love having something to remember!
Some other researchers (Hornstein and Wapner, 1985; Hanson and Wapner, 1994; Gee and Baillie) have proposed four different ways to experience the transition to retirement.
|Think of it as a relief after years of hard work.||Think about it as a new beginning full of opportunities and freedom.||There are people who reflect on this transition as a loss of activities and highly valued roles.||There will also be those who see retirement as a period of continuity, without attributing any special negative or positive value to it.|
In this case, these dimensions are proposed not as phases of an adjustment process, but rather as alternative ways of experiencing retirement that differentiate some individuals from others (1).
Having pointed this out, you never know how the retiree will be feeling unless you are very close to him or her. So we recommend that whatever transition the retiree is going through, an excellent idea is to use a template, card or digital canvas to create a memory book. This can contain heartfelt notes from everyone in the office and gives them a chance to share how they feel about their colleague’s departure.
One for the road
From Capetillo and Flores’ 1990 study, it is clear that retiring means much more than just stopping a particular job. It also means a loss of a source of gratification of great importance for the life of man, since work has numerous meanings for the person (2).
That is why this is a very good occasion when you can justify drinking on the job. Pull out the happy hour cocktail kit and grab one for the road – raise your glass and toast to his retirement!
Send a gift basket
Even if you hold the retirement party online, you should consider sending a physical gift to your colleague. Online coupons and credits, may not have the same meaning as opening a physical gift.
Involve the teams in this packaging preparation. Create a gift basket with a variety of goodies for the retiree to enjoy. It can be a basket of food and beverages, or one of household and bath essentials, electronics or books – or all of them if your budget allows!
Send a cake
Contact a local bakery and customize a holiday cake for your retiree. You can also arrange to send cupcakes to everyone, taking into account the number of years the employee has worked for the company. For example, if they have worked for 25 years, you can alternate the letters on the cupcakes between 2 and 5 and have different frostings and flavours.
Create a to-do list after work
Your soon-to-be retiree will soon have a lot of free time and may not know how to spend it. You and the team can offer suggestions by forming an online bucket list. To generate your list, you should create a file that the entire team can access, such as a Google document or Pinterest board.
Leisure plays an important role in the lives of older people because it helps them to face the new social situation with optimism. Having time and being able to experience leisure are conditions that define the “good life.” But the problem with leisure is that few people have cultivated the skills that allow them to use leisure time successfully (3).
Ask teammates to contribute tips, interesting articles, instructional videos or entertainment recommendations to occupy the retiree’s time. In addition, new designs, communication systems, computers, robotics, etc. make it possible for many older people to enjoy a much more independent life (4).
When people stop working, they need to fill and organize all the free time they have left. For this reason, it highlights the importance of leisure activities as a way of facilitating the retirement process, as long as basic survival needs are adequately covered (5).
Steps to follow
Specify the day and time
The key to planning well is to plan ahead. Be sure to get everyone’s confirmation of their availability to establish a meeting time and day that works for both the retiree and the rest of the team.
Decide on a theme
This is optional, but choosing a certain theme is in theme with the celebratory nature of the party. You can find out what the retiree’s favourite colour is and inform others to dress in it as a show of support. Or decorate your backdrop with cotillions, tapestries and balloons in that colour.
Design an appropriate invitation
Since the COVID era, some strategies for entertaining that were most used by seniors were: sharing messages with emotional content, offering free virtual services, participating in religious or spiritual events, etc (6). With that said, in general, older people are much more emotional than people in other age groups.
That is why when sending invitations, in addition to including the time and link of the meeting created in the invitation email, we recommend that these have a short and emotional text explaining the reason for the celebration. This is a detail that the retiree will appreciate.
Budget for gifts
It’s common for everyone to chip in for a gift when a favourite colleague or manager retires. If you have a budget for one, they can get the right gift. You will also need to consider shipping costs and delivery time. Alternatively, you can collect a set amount per person and pay for a gift certificate redeemable at any electronic retailer.
Set aside time for farewells
The size of the group will determine how long it will take the retiree to interact with everyone present. So, for larger groups, make sure there is enough time for everyone to talk to the person retiring. If someone wants to give a speech or tell anecdotes, have them write it up before the meeting so they can cut it down if it’s too long, and deliver it while still getting the sentiment across.
Virtual retirement party games!
You know those wacky hairstyles you see in the magazines at your local hair salon? Why not recreate your own hairstyles and make everyone die laughing? The funnier, the better! You can have your camera on, stream live and start doing your hair. If you don’t want to regret living on the wild side that day, just experiment with props and wigs.
I guarantee it’s fun to see even the CEOs, with grim faces, let their hair down for once!
Countdown quiz with an hourglass
This is one of the best ideas for a virtual retirement party to find out how well everyone knows the retiree! Communicate with the employee and prepare a series of questions about them, such as what their favourite food, colour, or store is. The questions can be a combination of personal and professional issues and include workplace facts, such as projects they’ve led or worked on, or people they’ve helped.
Then, take a small hourglass and place it in front of the camera where everyone can see it. Divide the attendees into teams, where they will play this countdown guessing game. Each team has time to think of the correct answer as the hourglass spins. If one team guesses wrong or runs out of time, the turn goes to the opposing players. Whoever gets the most correct answers wins this quiz!
Retiree can’t participate in this, for obvious reasons! They can simply sit back and watch their colleagues compete to prove which side knows them best!
Call a mystery guest
Leverage the help of your HR department for this virtual retirement party – you’ll need to have the contact number of their previous retirees and inquire if they would be willing to crash a virtual party! While the party is going on, hint that a mystery guest will be joining the call and keep the party participants guessing until they get clear audio and picture. This idea is beneficial for everyone; as it gives them a chance to reconnect with another former colleague and reminisce about the good times!
Who has the weirdest excuse for not going to work?
There’s a reason why excuses for being absent from work have become an internet meme – and that’s because some reasons are extremely unforgettable! Turn it into a game where everyone has to come up with the strangest excuse for not going to work – you can even send people into meeting rooms, where they have to string their individual excuses together to make the longest (and most unbelievable) excuse story!
Here are some suggestions to give you an idea:
- Person 1: I can’t come to work today because I slipped on a burrito and twisted my leg.
- Employee 2: I took him (or her) to the clinic, but on the way back we got a flat tire on the car and got stuck.
- Person 3: The police arrived at the same time as the tow truck and arrested the driver for violating his probation status.
You get the idea now, you can even have groups act out the excuse!
I would never ever…
Days away from retirement, your colleague can now reveal secrets. You can adapt your Me Never game as a proper goodbye to your work friend. Remember that to play I Never, each participant begins by holding up ten fingers. Players lower one finger for each action they took.
If you’re feeling brave enough to play Never Have I ever, here are some ideas for a virtual retirement party:
- I was working in an office without a computer
- I asked someone to show me how to copy and paste
- I reported to a younger manager
- I showed co-workers pictures of grandchildren
- I lost my glasses at work
- I said, “I will never retire.”
- I told a colleague, “When I was your age…”
- I ate another colleague’s lunch
- I played a joke on a co-worker
- I shopped online while on the clock
- I thought a customer was cute
- At the end of the game, you can ask your honoree to share more quirky and interesting work stories
A virtual retirement party may feel a little different than celebrating in person, but it also offers many benefits. You can party from the comfort of your home, and invite people who might not be able to make the trip to a party in person.
Retirements are important occasions and should be given due attention. So even if your team can’t commemorate the occasion in person, you can get together online and give your valued teammate a proper send-off.