Retirement isn't just a major change for you; it can also affect your employer in profound ways, especially if you're a key employee.

You don't want to leave on a bad note, so you should always be responsible about when and how you tell your employer that you plan to go. At the same time, you don't want to sound the alert too soon and jeopardize your prospects of leaving on your own schedule.

So, when is the right time to give your boss notice? It depends on your situation, but this advice will help you to make the right choice. 

Older woman at work talking on the phone.

Image source: Getty Images.

Give enough notice to provide time to replace you

You don't want your company to be left without someone to do your job, so you need to make sure you provide ample notice to advertise the position, conduct interviews, and find a new candidate. 

The more specialized your knowledge and the higher up in the company you are, the longer a candidate search can take. Consider this when you decide to give notice. If you're in senior leadership or there aren't many people who do what you do, you may need to alert your boss several months early to allow sufficient time.

If it will take a long time to replace you, you don't have to worry much about your company trying to push you out the door before you're ready -- especially if your job is essential. So there's little harm in telling the company about your impending retirement early so it can find the right replacement. 

Offer to train your replacement if you can

The handoff to your replacement will go a lot easier if you're there to show the person the ropes. After all, you know your job better than anyone.

While it can take time to train your replacement, this can also make the last weeks of your work easier, since you have a backup who can start taking over some of your tasks as you transfer the necessary knowledge. 

Ask what you can do to ease the transition

Your boss may have some specific things in mind to help make your exit from the workforce easier for everyone. This may involve finishing up a specific project you've been assigned to, helping search for your replacement, or delegating your duties to others on the staff.

By indicating your willingness to help make your departure easier, you can show you're a team player up to the very end. 

Come prepared with financial questions

Your departure may also have implications for your finances. For example, if you have unvested 401(k) contributions, you may need to meet certain requirements to be able to leave with your full employer matching funds. And if you haven't yet reached the age to qualify for Medicare, you may want to continue health insurance coverage through your employer under COBRA

Make a list of the different ways that your retirement could impact your workplace benefits and retirement accounts and come prepared to address the issues so you can get the answers you need. 

Smart decisions on your retirement can make all the difference

While you hopefully won't need to return to the workforce after retirement, it's still a good idea to retire the right way so you maintain a positive relationship with your former employer.

By following these tips, you can get your ducks in a row for the financial implications of your retirement and be sure you don't leave your company in the lurch with your departure.