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Pay, Stock and Benefits: Taking Peeps for Granted

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You know what? I am sometimes surprised how complacent we humans can become. And how quickly we become used to things. How fast we take stuff for granted. How readily we forget how good we have it. Hedonic adaptation (thank you, Tumblr and Wikipedia entry of the day). Hedonic adaptation is “…the supposed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes”.

I suppose the good news is that we can recover from major negative events. Thinking about Japan right now, that gives me hope for those people who are going through massive difficulties. Life in New Orleans and Indonesia and the sites of other catastrophes are returning to normal, even if the infrastructure hasn’t. And even thinking about negative things that have happened in my life, there is a tendency to bounce back. We’re a resilient species, surprisingly.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, we’re also kind of a goofy species. When we get good things, we quickly tire of them and a “relatively stable level of happiness” (I’d say “complacency”) takes over. Heck, I can’t finish one delicious Peeps without looking at the Cadbury egg and saying a la Mike Myers, “It will be mine. Oh yes, It will be mine.”

I was reminded of this recently when I gave a presentation to a business conference where the attendees were primarily from employee-owned companies. We’d be chatting about the company they work for and the various challenges they face in their company. Then they would ask what company I was from and I’d say, “Intel” and they’d look sort of confused and say, “Intel? Like, Intel the chipmaker? Are you an employee-owned company?”

I would explain that we are a publicly held company but that we give stock to virtually all employees. And that the same principles involved in employee-owned companies: the sense of commitment, being a part of something, and that employees are all in it together – are all things we strive to foster at Intel through our stock programs.

In high tech, we’re increasingly unique in giving stock to all our employees. We think it makes a difference. We believe it matters. At Intel, we’re both employees AND shareholders, so we all have a real stake in helping Intel become an even greater company.

I admit that I sometimes forget how cool this is. Hedonic adaptation returns me to complacency before I know it. But when someone outside asks me about it, I remember I’m a stockholder and (yeah, okay, I’m breaking out my pom-poms now) I’m proud to work for Intel.