Corporate Social Responsibility at Intel
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CSR employee retention strategy: let them go fallow*

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Everybody knows that a company’s people are an important audience/stakeholder group to keep in mind when building strong CSR programs. Retention, satisfaction and productivity, it can be argued, are enhanced when people are aware of good things their employer does to be a good corporate citizen. Good pay helps too. So do nice incentives. At Intel we have both. There are many incentives I could write about, but this post is focused on one particular incentive that’s got me, well, smiling broadly: the Intel Sabbatical. Why focus on this one? Because my Sabbatical begins tomorrow.

As you probably can guess from the sound of the word, “Sabbatical” has Biblical roots. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (research has gotten so easy with the advent of the Internet), it refers to a period set forth in Mosaic Law. After six years, land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released in the seventh year. Presumably the land would go back into service and the debtors and slaves would have to be rounded up and put back to work in year eight. But boy! The freedom they’d enjoy on their sabbatical!

I will avoid the obvious allusions between employees and “debtors and slaves,” and instead get to the point: generally, every Intel full time employed person in the U.S. is eligible for an eight week period away from work after a seven year service. This sabbatical period, according to program overview documents, is “not a benefit earned for past service, but an incentive for continued service.”

Tacking an eight week sabbatical at the end of seven years service is a pretty nice incentive to having a person return in year eight. In the time of Moses, I surmise that the idea behind the sabbatical was to let the land go fallow so it could refresh, rejuvenate. I suppose in the same way Intel want’s me to go fallow…to rejuvenate…and come back with new ideas and fresh perspectives. Indeed, that’s basically what the official document says the program’s all about.

So, what will I do with all that time off? Travel to exotic lands? Learn to fly? Or laze around like a bum? Well, mostly, I’m going to enjoy the time, work on a novel that’s begging to be born and visit my folks. Oh, I’m also going to go fallow. And while I do that, I’ll let my cubicle to go fallow too. And while all that fallowing will remind me that no matter what people say (including myself), Intel remains one of the best companies to work for.

More posts when I return in August.

*(I love that word. It’s even better said aloud. Here, listen for yourself)

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