Bangalore based Ujjivan Financial Services, believes in striking a perfect balance between ‘change’ and ‘fine tune’ as far as processes are concerned. For Ujjivan, change, is a reflection of a dynamic organization which is essential or else the entire organization would stagnate and be unresponsive to customer and market requirements. According to Samit Ghosh, CEO & MD, Ujjivan Financial Services, it is their constant endeavor to understand their employees & customers and act proactively to comprehend their needs and adapt accordingly. Understanding the requirements and adapting accordingly has been the key to survival of players in the Rs. 20,000 crore sector plagued by cases of growing bad loans.
Having started its operation in 2005, Ujjivan has been ranked numero uno in the microfinance industry for the second time in India's Best Companies to Work For - 2011 Study. Vittal Rangan, Head-HR, who believes that this recognition is a journey says, “It is recognition of genuine effort; it reiterates our belief and actions involving our employees and motivates us to do more for them.” As an enterprise, Ujjivan has always given importance to people, be it with regards to good compensation packages or making a fair and transparent work environment. The company has created a culture which reflects its mission, vision and values. Ghosh shares the philosophy of the organization and says, “As an enterprise, we have always given importance to people, be it with regards to good compensation packages or making a fair and transparent environment for them to work in.”
Amidst rising cases of non-repayment and bad loans, Ujjivan, with a niche for catering to the urban poor (which constitutes 32 percent of the urban population), claims of a 98.91 percent repayment rate and credits the success of the same to the passionate employees who are committed to Ujjivan’s mission of providing financial services to the poor. The company’s robust induction model ensures that 14 days of basic level training is imparted to an individual before being absorbed in the current role. As a policy, the company focuses on local recruits for business operation. Rangan shares his thought on the company’s recruitment policy and avers, “We ‘locally recruit’ individuals who belong to a particular area for our business operation in that same area. This practice provides employment opportunities at their preferred location and also help us in reaching out to that community through a better understanding and connect. We stress on internally promoting our deserved employees through our ‘Internal Job Posting’ (IJP) programs.” He further explains that internal promotion is a better proposition than external recruitment as the present employees are accustomed to the organization’s values and culture and also have an established connect with the customers.
‘A day in the life of our field staff’, is a unique initiative undertaken by Ujjivan, wherein members of the leadership team, spend the entire day with the frontline staff to experience what they experience on a working day in the slums. This has helped build a better understanding and tie between the frontline members - who drive and ensure the implementation of Ujjivan’s mission, the leadership team and the customers. ‘Field Staff Representative Interaction Program’ is yet another effective platform, which occurs once a month, wherein employees from each of the branches come to the regional or head office and raise their concerns focusing mainly on business, customers and field issues.
In line with the organization’s philosophy to help build a better life, the employees of Ujjivan and Parinaam Foundation (a not-for-profit organization) take initiatives to raise funds for disaster relief efforts, for both customers and staff. Voluntary contributions are made by employees to the tune of one day’s salary and Ujjivan matches the employees’ contribution. This amount is held in a Disaster Relief Fund account for disbursal to beneficiaries during the year. This year, in April and May alone, employees have contributed over Rs. 8.77 lakhs which is being matched by Ujjivan, raising the total amount available for disaster relief to over Rs. 17.5 lakh.
But what makes Ujjivan Financial Services a great place to work for? According to Ghosh there are three specific reasons; the first being the employees who work totally committed to the mission of providing financial services to the poor, which gives them enormous job satisfaction and makes Ujjivan a great workplace. The second reason is the importance accorded to people in terms of good compensation, packages, and a fair and transparent work environment. And, finally the organizational culture which reflects the mission, vision and values. As a practice, the company has avoided issues like bureaucracy and corporate rat race while maintaining an open and transparent work culture.