Knowing that someone you’ve worked with is retiring evokes mixed feelings, particularly when they’ve mentored you or been colleagues for years. When the team is remote, saying goodbye is even harder because everyone is unable to convene in person at a venue. But why not throw your soon-to-be ex-colleague a virtual retirement party instead?
Retirement parties are a routine affair and are held in honor of the person who has spent their professional life serving or running a company.
In this blog post, Í’ll be sharing a few ideas to consider trying out when planning a virtual retirement party!
1 Why should you host a virtual retirement party?
A virtual retirement party is a great way to celebrate a manager or colleague’s time at the firm and their accomplishments. It bookends the relationship and bond they’ve formed with fellow coworkers, managers and senior partners.
Considering retirement is more permanent than resignation or layoffs, the chances of you working together with the departing employee again are slimmer. This is why remote-first companies need to make such an employee’s last working day special. A virtual retirement party adds yet another fond memory for the former employee to think back on when they’re enjoying their retirement!
But as the saying goes,’ all baby boomers will be retirees, but all retirees won’t be baby boomers’. Meaning, there’s a good chance that the next virtual retirement party during Covid that you’re planning could be for anyone, regardless of whether or not they’ve hit the official age for retirement!
2 Virtual retirement party games to play in 2021
2.1 Silly hairstyles
You know those quirky and outlandish hairstyles you see in the magazines at your local salon? Why not recreate your own hairstyles and have everyone join in on the laughs? The sillier the better! You can have your camera on, go live and start styling your hair. If you don’t want to regret living on the wild side for that day, just experiment with accessories and wigs.
I guarantee you it’s fun seeing even grim-faced CEOs let down their hair for just that one time!
2.2 Hourglass countdown quiz
This is one of the best virtual retirement party ideas to find out just how well everyone knows the retiree! Reach out to the employee and prepare a set of questions about them, such as what their favorite cuisine, color or store is. The questions can be a mix of personal and professional and include tidbits from the workplace such as the projects they’ve led or worked on, or the people they’ve helped out.
Next, get a small hourglass and position it in front of the camera where everyone can see it. Divide the attendees into teams where they’ll be playing this countdown guessing game. Each team gets time to think of the right answer as the hourglass is turned. If a team guesses wrong or runs out of time, the turn goes to the opposing players. Whoever gets the most number of answers right wins this quiz!
Side note; the retiree cannot participate in this, for obvious reasons! They can simply sit back and watch their colleagues compete to prove which side knows them best!
2.3 Phone a mystery guest
Take your HR department’s help for this virtual retirement party idea. You’ll need to have your previous retirees’ contact number and check with them if they’d be down to crash a virtual party! While the party is going on, hint at a mystery guest joining the call and keep the party participants guessing until they get a clear audio and visual! This idea is a win-win; because it gives everyone an opportunity to reconnect with another former colleague and reminisce about the good times!
2.4 Who has the most bizarre time off excuse?
There’s a reason excuses to be absent from work have become an Internet meme. And that’s because some reasons are just hilariously unforgettable! Turn it into a game where everyone has to come up with their most bizarre excuse for not coming into work. You can even send people off into breakout rooms, where they have to stitch their individual excuses to make the longest (and most unbelievable) story of an excuse!
Here are a few suggestions to give you an idea;
- Person 1: I can’t come into work today because I slipped on a burrito and sprained my leg.
- Employee 2: I took him(or her) to the clinic but the car got a flat tyre on our way back and we got stuck.
- Person 3: The police arrived at the same time as the tow truck and arrested the driver for violating his parole condition.
Do you get the idea now? You can even have groups enact the excuse out!
2.5 Step up: the Virtual Dance Off
Put on your dancing shoes and choreograph a dance off to entertain your former colleague or manager! Skilled dancers, a performance and a captivated audience- all online. Your virtual retirement party is as engaging as you envisioned it being!
2.6 Virtual skiing
Many retirees spend their days exploring a new hobby, such as gardening, tutoring or building model aircrafts. Some like going to exotic destinations and sampling cuisine. Create a group experience no one is going to forget by signing them up for a virtual ski trip!
I looked up places that offer a virtual experience on armchairtravels and liked the sound of the Holmenkollen ski jump simulation in Norway. The simulator is open to everyone aged 6+ and above and can accommodate upto 12 people.
2.7 Never Have I ever/ It’s never too late to..
Admit to something you’re guilty of doing while on the clock! This modified version of Never Have I Ever can turn up some interesting answers. If everyone’s not ready for the truth, you can always turn the game into a bucket list of items containing suggestions that the retiree can take up. Everyone’s welcome to provide input.
If you’re feeling brave to play Never Have I ever, here are a few virtual retirement party ideas;
It’s never too late to
- Binge watch Money Heist on Netflix.
- Ask someone to go on a fishing trip with me in the middle of a work day.
- Bring bell bottoms back as office attire.
- Learn how Gen Z uses social media.
- Volunteer at an orphanage or nursing home with my coworkers.
- Say “ I’m never retiring
- Forget your lanyard at home
3 Virtual Retirement Party Ideas
3.1 The Office Photo
Take a screenshot of all your party attendees. Ask them to strike a funny or normal pose. You can also request them to send in selfies and compile it into a collage to send to your retiring colleague. They’ll definitely love having something to look back on!
Use a template,ecard or digital canvas to create a memory book. It can contain heartfelt notes from everyone in the office and gives them a chance to share how they feel about your colleague leaving.
3.3 One for the Road
This is an occasion where drinking at work is justified, particularly if the team hung out post office hours at local pubs and breweries. Break out the virtual happy hour cocktail kit and have one for the road. Raise your glass, and toast to their retirement!
3.4 Ship a Care Hamper
Involve your teams in this packaging exercise. Create a gift hamper with an assortment of goodies for the retiree to enjoy. It can be a food and drinks hamper, or one for home and bath essentials, electronics or books. Go for all of them if your budget lets you!
3.5 Send a party cake
Get in touch with a local bakery and customize a party cake for your retiree. You can also arrange to send out cupcakes to everyone marking the number of years the employee has worked for the company. For example, if they’ve worked for 25 years, you can have the lettering on the cupcakes alternate between 2 and 5 and have different frosting and flavors!
4. Etiquettes to follow
4.1 Specify the time and date
The key to planning well is planning ahead. Make sure to get everyone’s confirmation on their availability in order to set up a meeting time and day that works for the retiree as well as for the rest of the team.
4.2 Decide on a theme
This is optional, but a theme is in keeping with the celebratory nature of the party. You can find out what your retiree’s favorite color is, and inform the others to dress up in it as a show of support. Or, decorate your background with party favors, wall hangings and balloons in that color.
4.3 Design a theme-appropriate invitation
Use greetingsisland’s diverse selection of virtual retirement party invitations to send out to your remote team. Include the time and meeting link created in the invite email so that it gets synced to the calendar.
4.4 Budget for gifts
It’s common for everyone to go in on a gift when a favorite colleague or manager is retiring. If your budget for a gift, everyone can stick to the limit and get the right present. You will also need to factor in shipping costs and delivery time. Alternatively, you can collect a set amount per head and pay for a redeemable gift coupon to any e-tailer store. You can also consider a more on-trend route which is to explore virtual gifting using an employee engagement software that does all the background work for you. Sorry, I was on Mute offers one such integrated platform that can be used to acknowledge and reward excellent work or contributions at an individual or team level across your organization. Make accurate data-driven decisions based on the in-depth reports and analytical information that this software provides to create customized rewards and recognitions. You can then take it one step further and align these with your company mission and value system to create a dynamic performance recognition center.
4.5 Dedicate time for goodbyes
The party size determines how long it’ll take for the retiree to interact with everyone present. So for larger groups, make sure that there’s sufficient time for everyone to speak to the person who is retiring. If anyone wants to give a speech or provide anecdotes, have them draw it up before the meeting so that they can trim it if it’s too long and deliver it while managing to convey the sentiment.
5.1 How do you celebrate retirement virtually?
You can celebrate your or someone else’s retirement virtually by creating a meeting link on any video conferencing platform, such as Zoom, Loom, Whereby or Skype. Go with what everyone has installed or downloaded on their devices in order to ensure there are no late starts to the virtual retirement party.
For good measure, ask your retiree if they prefer a quiet affair or for the office to go all out. The important thing here is making sure they have a great time and leave with a happy memory!
5.2 What do you do at a Covid retirement party?
The pandemic has reinforced the need to remain distanced. Here’s what you should bear in mind for a virtual retirement party during Covid;
- Decide on the number of attendees to send invitations to.
- Finalize the party ideas or games that can be played within the time specified in the invitation.
- Arrange for the food and beverages to be sent out to everyone either on or before the day of the party.
- Above all- have fun!