Co-workers can develop family-like relationships, and bidding them farewell can be an emotional time. This is true whether the business is a small one with just a handful of employees, or a large corporation where an individual has been employed for a number of years. It is the custom in many offices to purchase a small farewell gift for a co-worker who is leaving, and often the task is given to different staff members each time. Choosing a farewell gift for a close colleague is relatively simple; buying one for someone you hardly know can be much more difficult.
One of the first things to establish is whether the recipient has any religious or dietary restrictions on food or beverage gifts. This may not be immediately obvious or widely-known. A few tactful questions should bring to light whether they have to avoid tea, coffee, alcohol or sugary foods, or if they have any allergies to foods such as dairy or wheat.
The next thing to establish is how much money you have at your disposal for the gift. This could either be a standard amount given from company funds, or the result of an office collection of donations. Either way, make sure to check whether a card and wrapping for the gift is also to come from the whole sum of money, or if they will be purchased separately.
For co-workers who have been with the company for some time, it is usually well-known if they have any particular hobbies or interests. Basing your gift choice on those will provide a thoughtful and useful gift. Selecting a book on the subject, or a commemorative plate, mug or drinking glass engraved with their date of employment and an image related to their hobby may be appropriate. A nice touch is to choose a serious gift, such as a clock or watch, and then a humourous gift such as a doll in the costume of their hobby or a book of humourous quotations or cartoons related to it.
If you are tasked with purchasing a farewell gift for a co-worker you hardly know, your first job is to speak to their friends. You should try to establish the same religious or dietary information as before, but at the same time try to get a feel for the individual as a person. Are they into sports, are they moving on to a complete change of profession, do they have a favourite colour? All of these things can help you choose an appropriate gift.
Of course there are people who work for a company and who keep themselves very firmly to themselves throughout their whole employment. For these co-workers, the old standby of flowers is a firm favourite if the employee is female. For male workers, an embossed leather wallet or vouchers that can be spent in a department store are also suitable gifts.
In all cases, showing that the individual's contribution to the company has been welcomed and acknowledged is the most important thing. Whatever gift is chosen, giving it with genuine gratitude is the aim.