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Intel was losing employees. So it created an anonymous hotline to help unhappy workers

In 2016, Intel realized it had a retention problem.

A lot of workers were leaving, particularly women and minorities.

So the company launched a confidential online hotline where employees are paired with case managers to resolve any workplace concerns or struggles, before they quit.

“We wanted to get on the front end of what was happening in retention and have a proactive way to address employees’ concerns before they were ready to exit out the door,” said Barbara Whye, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

And it seems to be working: the WarmLine, as the company’s employee hotline is known, has an 82% save rate — meaning more than 8 in 10 of the employees who filed complaints are still at the company, according to Whye.

The hotline is run by case managers on Intel’s Global Diversity and Inclusion team who work to resolve any issues that arise. Sometimes that means working with various departments, facilitating a sit down with a manager or finding additional resources for an employee looking for more career growth.

To maintain confidentiality, case managers get an employee’s approval before reaching out to anyone else to help fix an issue.

“A lot of case managers have gone through life coaching training outside of Intel and have an interest in sharing their own challenges and experiences with others,” said Whye. “It is comforting for employees to be able to speak with other employees through a more informal process compared to going straight to an HR complaint which they may not be as trusting of.”

Since its creation, the WarmLine has handled more than 20,000 cases and has increased the company’s retention rate. It also helped the company achieve its 2015 goal to have its US workforce mirror the diversity of the entire US workforce by 2020 — a full two years early.

Employees have received career development advice, changed departments and received adjustments in pay through the Warmline.

“…Not every case is about a struggle,” said Whye. “It can sometimes be just wanting to know about areas where they can grow professionally.”

The hotline is currently open to all employees in the US and Costa Rica, and will roll it out globally this year.

Before the hotline, the company’s exit rate for black, Hispanic and Native American workers was 8.7%. So far this year, the rate has dropped to 7%. Hispanic employees have seen the biggest drop in exit rate from 8.1% to 6%.

“We want employees to have their concerns and challenges heard and know they don’t have to work on them by themselves,” said Whye.

The top two complaints from employees on the WarmLine are lack of career progression and issues with managers.

In response, Intel created a program that trained 13,000 managers on how to better create a more inclusive environment.

“We have used the WarmLine data to not only create training and educational programs but also used it to develop playbooks tailored to every business unit so leaders can understand their organization’s top challenges,” said Whye.

The WarmLine also provides data to the company, including which manager or department has the highest percentage of cases and issues women and minorities face.

“If you are leading at Intel, yes, you need the technical chops, but you also have to have leadership chops,” said Whye.

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