Infy's sabbatical policy: Cost Cutting or Corporate Social Responsibility?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today, I came across this article about an interesting HR policy of Infosys. "Infosys has issued letters to its employees stating they could opt for a one-year sabbatical to engage themselves in philanthropic activities." According to the company, "while the move may have coincided with the global financial turmoil and slowing growth rates of IT firms, it should be perceived as a pure voluntary act by employees who are prompted by altruistic motives and inspired by the example of its chairman and chief mentor, NR Narayana Murthy."

What will employees get? 50% of their salary during that one year sabbatical + Any payment while working at any NGO or any such organization + Personal satisfaction for helping the needy.

Who is eligible? Any Infosys employee who is on Infosys payroll for two consecutive years.

Why is Infosys doing it?
"It's a part of Narayana Murthy's desire to give back to society."

How does it help changing the lives around?
According to Infosys, many of their employees quit their job to pursue philanthropic activities. This would give such employees (I hope there are many!) an option to pursue their hobby while still continuing with the jobs, even if they will be paid a small amount by the company. This ultimately brings fresh talent and renewed dynamism in NGOs or any such organization they work for or to any philanthropic activity which employee takes up.

This idea was Narayana Murthy’s dream and has been on the cards for a while. It is the way one can give back to society. But why is Infosys doing especially during economic turbulent times? I digged more into this and found that, Infosys has infact made this policy public way back in December 2006. But, according to this article in The Hindu Business Line, the motives then seems to be different,
"The company has also initiated a pilot project for employees giving them an opportunity to opt for a one-year sabbatical at any point in their careers. This could be used for childcare, eldercare, higher studies or for health reasons" [More here].
So, clearly, in December 2006, the sabbatical policy was employee centric, now it just got bigger and has a social element in it. After almost two years, when employees are in the middle of worst economic crisis, this policy can serve two purposes: Corporate Social Responsibility and Cost Cutting. One cannot blame Infosys for giving new life to this policy. Simply because choice is completely left to employee's discretion and it is voluntary in nature and more importantly they did not chose to issue pink slips without prior notice. More over, it has "Social Responsibility" factor in it. If significantly good number of employees take this opportunity to change the lives around, why not? No matter what kind of financial turmoil we are facing.

"I would like to believe the reason is more to do with the Corporate Social Responsibility element rather than the cost cutting element. But, the timing of the move has coincided with turbulent times. Only time will tell if this was a strange coincidence[src]."

I wish I was in Infosys :)


Anonymous said...

This is interesting manju. But I dont know how will company treat the guy after he is back from leave.

Anonymous said...

Policy is only for consistent exceptional performers, its not for cost cutting as employees given fellowship allowance. Above all its very competitive process to make the cut. This article is speculation based.

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