carriage clocks“When I first started out in business many years ago, I was lucky enough to work for a small  company where everyone talked to each other and there was a real family feel to the place” writes Guy Woodward, Logic Director.




During my first few days there, one of the firm’s senior directors took me to one side to impart some advice. “If you have your head screwed on properly, you’ll join the employee share scheme, take advantage of the mortgage subsidy and go to as many retirement parties as you can because the company provides the booze and nibbles!”

And how true this was, on every level!

From then on I was hooked on all matters financial and, more importantly for the purposes of this article, duly maintained a 100% attendance record at the firm’s retirement do’s.

Every couple of weeks someone (usually from accounts, as it happens) would be guest of honour in the boardroom. We’d all gather round while someone important would drone on for 20 minutes listing the fortunate recipient’s notable achievements before a parting gift – usually a carriage clock – was presented to mark the special occasion.

This memory got me thinking…business has changed significantly since then so what happens now when someone leaves their employer to sail off into the sunset?

And I’m not just talking about retiring, but leaving after a significantly long period of service?

Is the occasion still recognised or, like so much these days, does it just pass without notice?

In researching this article I came across a fascinating survey carried out by Skipton Building Society and I was particularly taken by a comment from Rebecca Willey, its corporate communications manager: “Leaving work behind after so many years can be an exciting and daunting experience. However, for many, it seems this experience hasn’t got off to the best start due to the send-off that they have received from their former employer.”

So what prompted this rather damming statement?

Not even a handshake?!
The Skipton study revealed what it referred to as the “pitiful value of the average retirement gift”.

Horror stories include getting nothing more than a handshake, or even a mis-spelt thank you letter.

It found that retirees can expect a goodbye gift worth around £102 when they finally leave work. But that works out at as little as £2.17 for every year of work (less than the price of a takeaway coffee!).

There is obviously some variance in different workplaces though – just over half those surveyed by Skipton said they were ‘over the moon’ with their gifts. But almost one in 20 confessed to selling their unwanted gift online.

Around three in 10 retirees got little more than a handshake and a ‘sorry you’re leaving’ comment. Nearly a third (31%) of them didn’t receive a present at all, while 7% were only given a card.

Lucky recipients
A smaller 15% received a better send-off than they thought they would. Some of the better presents included flowers, cakes, money, a personalised gift or a memento of the company that they worked at.

Gift cards were the most popular offering but some retirees received a night away, tickets to the Formula One and even an all-expenses paid party.

The moral?
Clearly times have changed and the big bash leaving / retirement do is now the exception rather than the norm. And let’s not forget that people no longer stay with companies for their entire working lifetime so it could be argued that the relationship between employer/employee has changed in any case.

From talking to others it seems companies are now more likely to fork out for a round of drinks rather than hosting a leaving party or buying a gift. This may well may suit many people, but one thing’s for sure….it’s unlikely to help the sales of carriage clocks.