Cochin-headquartered Federal Bank has found a unique way to reward its employees. For those who are working out of the branch, the Bank has decided to pay 1-day’s extra salary for 5 days of work. And for those employees who have been working from the corporate or administrative offices, the extra 1-day’s salary comes after 10 days of work.
At Federal Bank, 80 per cent of its employees work in the branch office, while 20 per cent work out of the administrative offices.
This financial reward is to recognise the efforts of the employees, who have been working during the lockdown, despite health threats due to the coronavirus. Why double the reward for the branch employees? Because the risk was also higher in branches due to high customer interactions.
The Bank has also rolled out salaries ahead of time, and in parts, for its employees in the month of March and April. For instance, last month, 50 per cent of the salaries were given by April 14 and the remaining before April 23.
Apart from the monetary benefits, the Bank is also taking utmost care of the employee’s safety and hygiene. Not only have they been provided masks and gloves, but sanitisers have also been installed at all office and branch locations.
A contingency for operation continuity
Despite the several precautions and safety measures, employees working out of the branches are always under high risk as they have to interact with different customers every day.
That is why, the Bank has divided the respective branch employees into two groups, that come to work on alternate days. For instance, if there are 12 employees in a single branch, they are divided into two teams of six each, who work on alternate days.
The idea is to keep a backup team ready, and also to ensure that the entire branch does not get affected in case of a contamination.
“For the current year, we have already offered jobs to 800 prospective employees and will be taking them in as and when their courses get over”
For instance, if all the employees work together every day, the whole team would risk infection, in case of contamination. That will bring the business of the entire branch to a halt. With two teams on alternate days, not only is the risk divided, but even business continuity can be maintained as one team can continue to work for the next 14 days, if the other team is quarantined.
Ajith Kumar KK, senior vice-president & CHRO, Network II, Federal Bank, explains that the team that does not come to office on a given day works from home. This means, at any given day, 50 per cent of the branch employees work from home, and the other 50 per cent from their respective branches.
The Bank has enabled its employees to work flexible hours, as in many states and locations the branches are not allowed to remain open beyond a certain number of hours. For instance, bank branches in Delhi are allowed to remain open from 9:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. while in Odisha they are allowed from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Depending on the local guidelines, bank employees have been given the freedom to function however they can.
We are concentrating on converting all our customers into digital, as mobility is a big issue nowadays. There are customers who have been hesitant till now and our teams are encouraging them to migrate to digital for their convenience
Few employees of the organisation — around 5 to 10 per cent— are stuck in other locations due to the sudden imposition of the lockdown. These employees have been allowed to work from the branch nearest to their location. Similarly, due to the lack of public transport, employees are unable to travel to their offices, which are far from their residences. For them, the mandate is to work from the nearest branch or office, or work from home. The Bank is further enabling its employees by reimbursing the cost of travel from home to office.
Kumar says, “Even employees in the treasury and credit department have been working from home. Special preference has been given to certain sections of the employees to work from home at all times, such as pregnant women, those with a past history of medical illness or those who have undergone surgery recently and are susceptible to the virus.”
Enabling work from home and remote working for its staff is not a major challenge for the Bank as it has had a dedicated digital banking unit for the last four years. This unit has been helping customers and employees to move their transactions and operations to the digital realm. Moreover, it was one of the first national banks to digitalise all its branches in the country.
“We are concentrating on converting all our customers into digital, as mobility is a big issue nowadays. There are customers who have been hesitant till now and our teams are encouraging them to migrate to digital for their convenience,” says Kumar.
Health, engagement and learning
For counselling purposes, the Bank has extended its arrangement with the Rajagiri Institute of Social Sciences in Kerala, with which it already had a tie up earlier to provide counselling facilities to low performers in the organisation. In the current situation, the same facility is being extended to employees who may be suffering from anxiety or need psychological help in other matters.
For health-related concerns, employees have free-of-cost access to e-consultation facilities with medical professionals, for themselves and their families.
For learning, Federal Bank has tied up with Credit Rating Information Services of India (CRISIL) to organise webinars with industry experts on GST, credit and other areas. Senior employees within Federal Bank, who are experts in different areas, are also encouraged to participate.
Moreover, the Bank has provided its employees with an internal learning application, called Fedcampus, to help them take various courses.
However, Kumar clarifies that employees have to complete a certain number of mandatory courses, which are related to their roles and functions, and certain in the general category, such as bank policies, processes and compliance-related programmes.
Federal Bank is honouring the jobs offers of the last financial year. “For the current year, we have already offered jobs to 800 prospective employees and will be taking them in as and when their courses get over,” says Kumar.
Almost 90 percent of these students will complete their courses in the months of August – September, post which they will be onboarded. The candidates have been selected from almost 50 campuses around the country and mostly for branch-office roles.