The ATMs across the country would be running dry, had this company not continued its services amidst the lockdown. AGS Transact Technologies is not just an ATM cash-replenishment company, but a leading provider of end-to-end cash and digital payment solutions and automation technology.
With a workforce of 13,000, of which 75 per cent were out in the field during the lockdown, the Company had a daunting task to keep the workforce motivated and energised, especially when people across the world were locked inside their homes.
“More than the incentives, I believe it was the love for the brand, and customer sensitivity that enabled the employees to deliver right from day one.”
It’s true that the Company had lucrative incentive schemes in place, to keep the workforce motivated. However, Captain Partha Samai, group head – HR & executive vice-president, AGS Transact Technologies, likes to believe that it is not just the cash incentives alone but also the the commitment of the employees that ensured undisrupted services.
During the lockdown, there were over 9,000 employees out on the field every day. These employees were given cash incentives, over and above their salaries, for each day that they went to work during the nationwide lockdown. More interestingly, the incentives were kept within a range of Rs. 200 to Rs. 315 per day in order to maintain parity across levels. The beneficiaries included field engineers, drivers and factory workers.
For instance, in the banking service, all field engineers in the metros received Rs. 250 per day as incentive, while those in the non-metros received Rs. 200 per day. In the petroleum division, workers travelling from one location to another for work received Rs. 250 per day. A logistics coordinator provided all spare parts required by engineers in the field from the hub location and back. That person received Rs. 250 per day as well. Factory workers who checked in at work received Rs. 200 per day. Similarly, workers in client locations, such as at the banks, support staff in administration and finance, and warehouse workers were all incentivised in a similar manner. The highest bracket of incentive at Rs. 315 per day went to the employees in the IT department.
For the drivers on the field, a flat Rs. 250 per day was given for going out to work. In addition, they also received a risk incentive in overtime pay. Typically, overtime for these drivers starts after they complete their standard 8-hour work day. However, during the lockdown, their working hours were shortened to six hours a day, and their overtime began right after that.
Samai shares with HRKatha, “We rolled out the incentives only in the second week of April, while work continued, despite hurdles, from day one of the nationwide lockdown. More than the incentives, I believe it was their love for the brand and customer sensitivity that enabled them to deliver right from day one.” Although the benefits were announced only in April, they were brought into effect from March 24. Therefore, workers received all the benefits due for their working days prior to the announcement.
Working SOPs in the field
While much of the work in today’s corporate world has gone online, few services do not have that luxury. The field workers at AGS fall into this category. After all, it is not possible to load cash into an ATM or repair the machine at a petrol depot digitally. The physical presence of an engineer at the site is necessary. Being aware of the sensitive nature of the work and its indispensability, the Company had sent out detailed SOPs to all field staff, which were to be followed at all times, every day.
It was mandatory for the cash-replenishment teams to wear masks and gloves all the time. Before going into an ATM, they were told to first sanitise the site and machine before proceeding with their job. After completion of the task, they were to sanitise themselves and the machine again before moving out of the area. The van itself was sanitised every day before going out to and after coming back from work.
In addition, the top management had made it mandatory for all field staff, in all states, to send out regular pictures or videos of themselves in the field to their immediate reporting managers. This was part of an exercise to build their confidence, by showing how they were discharging their duties in the field.
Changes for the corporate employees
Employees at the corporate office received laptops so that they could continue with their work unhindered. In addition, staff were given financial compensation for their data usage while working from home through the Company’s existing mobile policy.
The management has communicated to all corporate office employees that they will be allowed to come in twice a week, only if necessary, and work in a staggered manner to ensure safety. Who commutes to office and when is decided by the respective department heads, as they are the ones most cognizant of the required deliverables of each employee.
“We have encouraged every employee to work from home as much as possible, and commute only if absolutely necessary,” reveals Samai. In areas such as Mumbai, where several employees travel to office using local trains, instructions have been given to altogether avoid travelling to office, even if they want to.
Temperature checks, mandatory Arogya Setu app on the phone and sanitisation are the usual safety protocols maintained within the office premises. The HR keeps a daily report on who commutes to office and for how long.
Learning and engagement
The marketing and HR teams have collaborated and come out with a regular session called ‘Chat with Captain’, where Samai communicates with all employees on topics of resilience and keeping up a can-do attitude at all times. The HR team keeps making regular cold calls to all employees to keep a periodic check on their health and motivation, both on the field and at home. Apart from that, the management regularly shares tips and guidelines on how to protect and take care of oneself, both mentally and physically.
In the area of learning and development, the Company has kept up its focus on regular weekly training for the employees. Samai, a former Army officer, likes to say, “The more we sweat in the field, the less we bleed in war.” It is his firm belief that workers should keep sharpening their skills so that they are ready for the future.
For every employee, it is mandatory to complete a segment of their key performance indicators (KPI) every week. Senior members of the field staff have been encouraged to train their juniors at every opportunity as well. Workers brush up on their functional capabilities, even while being monitored by their respective department heads. The HR team has been training the employees on soft skills, such as negotiation, communication, team building, leadership and personality development. “We have been focussing a lot on verbal and non-verbal communication skills after identifying them as significant requirements during this phase,” points out Samai.
In a bid to keep business running and provide continuous service to its customers, AGS has readily shifted its way of working to suit the needs of its environment. Samai concludes by saying that while the initial first 10 days were tough, after a point in time they became used to the new way of working. Ever since the lifting of the nationwide lockdown, operations have been much smoother for the organisation.