Most of us never really think about our work friends and what will happen after retiring. Often, it’s a surprise to find yourself out of the loop and missing that daily contact.
Especially when you perceived they were real friends, and ones you’d always remain close to.
Keeping workplace friends during retirement requires a conscious effort on your part. Decide who you want to keep in touch with and clearly express your sentiments. Then follow up, keeping in regular contact by phone, email and casual get togethers.
I remember flying out for our annual corporate event. Kind of a big deal and about 30 of us were chosen to attend. And, boy, did I luck out in getting a seat near the front of the plane by the aisle.
One of the first on the plane, and wouldn’t you know it, I became the unofficial greeter for my “work family”.
One of those early morning flights exchanging pleasantries with my colleagues as they shuffled onto the plane. After a bit, the passenger next to me turned and exclaimed “Gosh, you sure know a lot of people”!
I’d never thought about it that way before. These were friends from work I’d gotten to know over many years. People I valued and cared about.
Little did I realize how we’d all go our separate ways in but a few short years.
Some of these relationships can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, the majority will dissipate unless efforts are made. Tips for keeping workplace friends during retirement outlines how to preserve and build upon these relationships.
1. Decide Who Are Your Friends
As shared above, I worked with dozens of great people whom I respected and considered friends. We were a very close-knit group as we resolved client issues and generated company income. Other than that, what did we really have in common?
Sure, it’s nice to reminisce about old projects and shared experiences. You’re likely curious about how things are going and what changes have been made in the office. Then the conversation gradually peters out.
“Work friends” might best be described as acquaintances. Your common bond was work and once this is removed, most drift away.
This is normal, when you think of it in these terms, so you’ll want to find those with shared interests. And keep in mind, this is a two-way street.
What do You Have in Common?
Many of my former co-workers are avid golfers. I’m certain I’d be welcome to join them to play a few rounds. Truth be told, I’m a horrendous golfer.
While I can whack the ball as far as the next guy, it’s anyone’s guess where it’s going to land! If I were interested, I would take lessons to improve my game.
As important as keeping friendships in retirement is to me, the issue is I’d rather spend my time and money doing something I enjoy. Travel is a passion and some of my golfing friends, also, look forward to their next getaway.
Another consideration is when they retire. Now, they’re in the same boat as you and likely a little uncertain about their relationships. This might be a good time to reach out and reconnect.
2. Express Your Interest of Staying in Touch
Before leaving the workplace, it’s common practice to say goodbye to people you worked with. For some people, it feels awkward and the standard response usually is “let’s keep in touch”. A pleasant nicety that few will follow through on.
The following advice came from a user on Quora which perfectly summarizes how we can be keeping workplace friends during retirement:
At this point, you’ve clearly articulated you value their friendship. Most people will feel flattered and share their personal contact information
Almost universally, everyone will agree to keep in touch. It’d be rude to say no, even if they have no intention of ever seeing you again. Yet, most people mean well and are open to it.
Just don’t expect them to make the effort, and don’t take it personally! Often, it doesn’t have anything to do with you. They’re busy (who isn’t) or may not feel comfortable after you leave. Accept not everyone is on your side and don’t force the issue.
3. Avoid Being Pushy or Needy
The worst thing possible is coming across as pushy or needy. While you might think you should get together, they may have more pressing commitments. In fact, what’s important to you may not even register for them.
Most of us have good intentions and want to help others out. We also don’t want to feel taken advantage of. Ever notice how some people only contact you when they want or need something?
Respect Everyone is Busy
After retiring, you’d think we’d have oodles of free time. Not always the case as revealed with two of my closest friends after retirement. Getting together for a “Wing Night” was something we all looked forward to.
Yet, between the three of us, it seemed near impossible to plan a date. Between family obligations, daily stuff and travel plans; months would slip by. When we did get together, we had a great time, vowing not let so much time pass.
4. Keeping in Touch by Phone, Email or Texting
It’s paramount to respect others time. This becomes a balancing act as you don’t want to come across as desperate, while keeping in regular contact. Sometimes it’s appropriate to call; whereas other times an email or text might be better.
How Often to Keep in Touch?
A buddy of mine emails out a cute video or joke every few weeks. Always good for a chuckle and a nice way of reminding me he’s still alive and kicking. Some of his better ones inspired me to create Witty Retirement Jokes.
What I’ve learned, it’s easy to drift apart unless we make some effort. The reality is we tend to forget about people when we haven’t heard from them in a while. Then, it can feel awkward if they haven’t heard from you in the past year or longer.
Every situation is a little different and you’ll need to gauge the frequency of interaction. Also, whether it’s more appropriate to call, text or send an email.
5. Informal Get Togethers
When you have a strong relationship with people, invite them to lunch or for a drink. Respect some people may feel unsure about getting together one-on-one. They’d feel more comfortable in a group setting.
Back in my working days, we used to head out for the occasional Dim Sum. Lots of fun and sort of a team building activity. Needless to say, I felt flattered when they continued to include me after I retired.
Another thought is inviting your old team members for a “happy hour” drink after work. You’ll be sure to hear what’s happening in the office and they’re probably curious how you’re doing.
Start a Luncheon Group
As discussed in Surefire Ways to Make Friends in Retirement, I contacted several fellow employees who had also been downsized. That proved a hit and it wasn’t long before a bunch of us were regularly getting together for “Alumni” luncheons.
From there, it took on a life of its own as a few individuals who were still working dropped by. Our little group grew and became a nice way of catching up and staying in contact.
6. Social Activities
As mentioned above, I’m not much of a golfer. However, there’s lot of other activities I enjoy. If you have a shared interest, that’s often the “glue” to build upon a relationship. Examples could include:
Almost no one likes doing something alone. If you share an interest, it’ll be more fun to do it together.
7. Social Media
With all the negativity about social media, you might be wondering if it’s worth it. In spite of this, it’s an excellent way to keep track of your network.
You know, those people you wouldn’t normally reach out to. For instance, all the work anniversaries and new job positions on LinkedIn. Make a point of congratulating them and saying hi.
Likewise, Facebook announces special occasions such as birthdays. Neither take much effort, yet often pay dividends in re-connecting.
Another Perk of Social Media
Thus far, we’ve discussed connecting with others. Both my wife and I have been pleasantly surprised to hear from individuals we may have worked with years ago. In some cases, they’ve moved away and happened to stumble across us.
8. Deepening Friendships
For the most part, we’ve discussed casual friendships with ex-workmates. Typically, during retirement your social circle will diminish unless something is done.
As wonderful as expanding your social network is, there’ll also be opportunities to deepen certain relationships. These are the people you most trust and value.
They take time to grow and develop. The feelings are reciprocated and you can count on each other. Rather than quantity, it’s about quality. The average person can count their closest friends on one hand.
Ways to Deepen Friendships
When it feels natural, you’ll find yourself doing more things together. Some ideas could include:
Although it feels like ages ago (year and a half), our last vacation was at the Crown Paradise Golden in Puerto Vallarta. I shared our travel plans at an Alumni luncheon.
One of my friends pleasantly surprised me when she asked if she could join us. That turned out to be a fabulous two-week trip filled with fun and good times.
Closing Thoughts on Keeping Workplace Friends During Retirement
One of the most common complaints of new retirees is how much they miss all the people they worked with. The whole situation is new to most of us.
Tips for staying in touch with workplace friends after retirement provides thoughts and strategies to address this. The bottom line, it’s not up to your work friends to keep in touch.
In spite of their best intentions, they’re busy with their own lives. Furthermore, they may not feel comfortable as it feels like everything’s changed.
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