First, the HR (or group of employees that performs the HR functions of an organization) should investigate how the employee resigned. This won’t have an impact on the employee who has already left or already made their mind up on leaving, but will provide important information on preventing future departures. The range of ways an employee leaves a company is wide, from thanking their manager for the opportunity to work there to being hostile with their manager/burning bridges. The ways an employee leaves a company is indicative of the way the company treated the employee or at least the employee’s perception of the way they were treated.
Next, most companies conduct exit interviews to learn why people are leaving, which can be helpful in collecting a lot of information. The problem is that sometimes people are not always as forthcoming or truthful on their exit interviews. HR experts have learned over the years that a good way to learn further information is to follow up with the departing employee’s coworkers. Sometimes employees will give extra information in person to coworkers that they won’t give in an exit interview. Note, it is important for companies to be tactful and honest when seeking such information to avoid such employees feel like they’re being put “on the spot” by answering such questions.
Companies can also track what employees who leave do after they leave. For example, if most employees who leave go back to school to get advanced degrees then it may be a good idea to offer a program where the company will help pay for employees to go back to school in exchange for commitments from the employee. If a lot of employees are leaving to go to the same competitor, there is something about that company’s culture that is probably worth researching and emulating. Or if a lot of employees are leaving to become stay-at-home parents then it may be a good idea to create/expand work-from-home opportunities.