I was browsing through the old Twitter-sphere the other day and came across this gem:

Along with being a humorous but heartfelt gift, the idea behind it got me thinking – what are the general guidelines for what employers should give their employees who are leaving on their last day of work?

But first, a bigger question to be asked: do employers owe their departing employees anything?

Technically, no. Even if the employer and employee had a great relationship, guess what? You’re already giving the employee the best send off gift they could ask for: another notch on their resume belt.

Looking past the technicalities, the waters become muddier. No, you don’t technically have to give departing employees anything. However, a departing employee is also a networking opportunity, and there’s no better way to network than to go above and beyond showing appreciation for the relationship that’s there.

So how do you know what’s appropriate to give an employee when they’re walking on? It really comes down to the employer/employee relationship that already existed. Here’s a full breakdown:

–Mutually glad to say goodbye: If the employee has found a new gig and is happy to be walking away, and the employer is just as happy to see them go, a simple handshake will suffice. No fanfare, but also no harsh words – just an amicable departure to save any future need there might be for networking.

–Employee sad/employer glad to say goodbye: In this instance, it probably wasn’t a hostile work situation. If the employer knows what they’re doing, they can keep it under wraps how glad they are to say goodbye to a problematic employee. But, that means they should give the departing employee a little something. This would be a good time to share some SWAG for the company. If the employee loved working for the company, they’d like to a take a piece of it with them, and in that way you’re spreading the word about your company.

Of course, there’s also the “sad” leaving employee who might be sad because they were forcibly removed. In that case, it should be pretty common sense no parting gifts are required.

–Employee glad/employer sad to say goodbye: I’m not talking about an employee who is flipping off the company as they walk out the door, but one who is heading onto bigger and better things. Their glad for the opportunity and the employer, while hopefully happy for their employee to be moving up in the world, is sad to be losing a high performer. It’s a case like this where a gift like the one pictured at the top of this post would be appropriate. Employers should want to thank their high performing individuals who are moving on, and leave them with a sentimental reminder of working together. In turn, employees leaving feel goodwill toward their soon-to-be ex-employer.

You may not owe employees who leave anything, but in certain cases it can work to your benefit to go that extra mile and give them a little token of your company as they head onto the next best thing.

Kate Weimer

Kate Weimer is a Marketing Lead at Kinetix, specializing in social media recruitment marketing and account management. Using a combination of her background in social media and love for the written word, she’s shoving all buzzwords aside and making HR and recruitment marketing work in today's digital world. Want to hang? Hit her up on Twitter or LinkedIn , or contact her via email.