The well-being of our stakeholders is a top priority at Ugam. As coronavirus (COVID-19), a global pandemic, continues to affect communities, we are constantly evaluating the situation and responding with measures to guarantee the continuity of our services.
During 2020 and the second wave in India, our business continuity measures have enabled us to deliver uninterrupted services, while prioritizing the well-being of our colleagues and their families. These measures include:
- Setup a 12-member cross-functional response team (CV19 response team) that meets daily to monitor the situation and make timely decisions.
- This CV-19 Response team comprises of 5 focus areas with 19 workstreams. The 5 focus areas to enable decision-making are:
- People Engagement
- Customer Engagement
- Solutions and Services
- Business Continuity
- Business Risk Evaluation & Management
Job security & performance review:
- At the start of the pandemic, we introduced several measures with an underlying principle to avoid lay-offs or furloughs. These measures along with a recovery of lost revenue has helped us ensure no lay-offs or furloughs for any of our people.
- Furthermore, our steady growth from August 2020, has enabled us to conduct two promotion and increment cycles within a period of 6 months – in October 2020 as well as in April 2021, both with immediate effect. Additionally, we disbursed 100% variable pay out for everyone regardless of role or team.
- In 2020, we fully honored phantom stock option and introduced a new long-term incentive plan.
Well-being & Safety
Launched “Ugam Assist”, a facilitator of COVID-19 recovery services, to support Ugamites or their family members every step of the way. The services included:
- Mediclaim Super-Top: 2 times of a team member’s chosen sum insured at the cost of just one top-up premium.
- Home quarantine financial aid: a lump sum amount for testing, medicines, equipment like oxygen cylinders etc.
- Access to resources that detail preventive and recovery measures set by local and global health organizations like Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).
- 24x7 centralized helpdesk: Whether at home or during hospitalization, a group of Ugam volunteers aka ‘Ugam Angels’ have setup WhatsApp groups per location to share verified information; and to facilitate medical care (hospitalization or home quarantine) and food delivery.
- Stocking of critical medical supplies at Ugam offices (for use by Ugamites).
- Vaccination program: Facilitating a vaccine drive at a private CVC (Covid Vaccine Center) for our colleagues and their dependents.
- A fund-raising program to help individuals in their time of need.
- Arrangement of Quarantine facilities
- In addition, to uplift spirits and promote positivity and an attitude of gratitude, we conducted several CSR initiatives. We partnered with “GiveIndia Foundation” in 2020 to donate ration kits for migrant workers and again in 2021 to raise funds for critical healthcare supplies. We also continued with our annual “Joy of Giving” program in December which attracted an even better response as compared to previous years.
- Organized sessions like Fitness (Yoga - Mind, Body & Soul), Nutrition, Disease prevention, Cooking and Childcare.
- Mental health webinars, pulse checks, 1:1 employee engagement and empathetic approach to ensure mental wellbeing of Ugamites.
- A dedicated “Life at Ugam” page on the company intranet, Unite, for our people to share personal updates, hobbies, facilitate corridor conversations and share appreciation.
- Planned and organized virtual games / events like UGT - Ugam's Got Talent, UPL - Ugam's Premier League, Chess, Tambola, Pictionary, etc.
- Organized theme-based meetings and festivities to liven up daily or weekly discussions.
- Celebrated work anniversaries, birthdays, and achievements. In 2021, we introduced a new initiative with our long-standing CSR partner, Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital (MPUH). Through this initiative, we will honor Ugamites celebrating a milestone (10 yr+) anniversary at Ugam (“Ugamversary “) by supporting a dialysis treatment of an underprivileged patient. A certificate of donation and an appreciation email will be shared with the Ugamite on this day.
- Our Ugam rituals proceeded unhindered through the pandemic to ensure it established normalcy for our people. These include our monthly Rewards & Recognition team-wise meeting, annual Golden Pyramids Award, celebration of Ugam’s 20th anniversary and our quarterly and annual strategy meetings.
Solutions & Services
- The pandemic created new business problems and needs for our clients. We quickly pivoted and reorganized our services to create relevant propositions for our clients. This required reskilling of teams to meet client expectations and creation of relevant marketing material.
- We reconfigured our teams to adjust to the demand fluctuations and new needs. People were allocated by client, followed knowledge transfer best practices, and attended reskilling programs.
- We conducted proactive assessments of high-risk accounts where dependency is on an individual at Ugam, or the client is solely dependent on us. To mitigate the risk, we created resource back-ups to ensure uninterrupted services.
- Our teams have also been spread across locations to mitigate risks that may occur in a particular location.
- We also hired contract or part-time workers and onboarded fresh graduates to increase bandwidth.
- Our hiring and onboarding programs have been adapted for a virtual experience. Since October 2020, we have successfully onboarded 800 people.
- Our managerial development program was also updated. We launched nudge series on how to deal with induction, onboarding, and young manager program.
- We cancelled / postponed all international travel, visa related interviews / processes for our employees for the time being. In special cases, both for personal and official travel, an approval from an internal COVID-19 response team has been made mandatory.
Since March 2020, we transitioned to 100% work-from-home. However, in January 2021, given the decline of cases globally along with the availability of vaccines, we reopened our offices with only 10% occupancy. Aligned with our Workplace 2.0 philosophy, we ensured our infrastructure supports ‘Work from Anywhere, Everywhere’ and our office setup.
Work from Anywhere, Everywhere (WFAE)
- As our teams work remotely, our systems have been performing well with little to no downtime, resulting in uninterrupted support to our clients. We have also implemented necessary safeguards to protect sensitive information.
- Employees were given a choice to take office furniture to their homes, a one-time allowance to set-up their home work-space and a monthly allowance to manage internet connectivity from home.
- Consistent and widespread adoption of digital collaboration tools like O365, Teams and Zoom for asynchronous collaboration. This was helpful as after a while, we had to balance the fatigue caused by Zoom meetings or phone calls, yet, enabling teams to continue to collaborate and brainstorm.
- Home delivery of laptops for all new joiners, replacement of old laptops (as and when needed), collection of laptops and other equipment from ex-employees.
- Introduced virtualization for end users for office type performance.
- Digitization for paperless office (Adobe Sign, Online Purchase Order, Invoicing)
- Online IT Ticketing
- IT support for hardware issues at employee’s home
- Extensive use of cloud for various systems to facilitate easy WFAE
- In the eventuality that some of our colleagues need to work from our offices, we sanitized our facilities and implemented enhanced cleaning and hygiene procedures to combat this situation.
- We introduced an app ‘Workinsynch’ for an easy return to work experience. Through the app, our people could complete their self-declaration process, confirm seat bookings, and access a Digi pass to gain office entry.
- We organized company cabs that were sanitized regularly and followed travel guidelines set by local authorities.
- Our office areas were demarcated, and guidelines were placed at relevant locations to ensure social distancing.
- Secured WFAE policy and awareness created to bring focus on its importance given the rise of cyber threats globally
- Implemented data leakage prevention tools to safeguard data and to limit Internet access
- Increased monitoring by Security Operations Centre so that every incident is recorded and actioned
- Increased compliance to patching to ensure any vulnerabilities or zero-day issues are addressed on timely basis
- Increased thresholds for anti-spamming and anti-malware filters to ensure our gateways filter any suspicious traffic
- Enabled two factor authentication for all our employees to make our authentication process more secure
- Leveraged multiple antivirus / EDR solutions to ensure additional layer of screening and protection against Ransomwares
- Our ISO27001:2013 certification helped us further and we increased the effectiveness of its controls
- Instituted a weekly 30 minutes AllUgam townhall with the CEO to provide updates on the situation, positive / negative developments, and answer questions from employees. Before every townhall a survey was sent out to all employees to seek questions and concerns to be answered during the townhall. We continue the townhalls to this day, although at a monthly frequency.
- Conducted 1-on-1 connects with 900 employees to get qualitative inputs and have finger on the pulse of our employees. This helped us in identifying a key theme of concern related to job security which was addressed / allayed accordingly.
- Pulse surveys (contact tracing, R-T-O, etc) and overall employee experience survey for all existing employees
- A monthly virtual Leadership Connect session with every new joiner.
- Conducting experience survey with candidates - at the time of recruitment - and with new joiners after they are inducted into the company.
- A dedicated COVID-19 intranet page to access all resources in one place – internal communication, verified information, policies, employee engagement initiatives.
- Encouraged and held managers accountable for organizing regular team catch-ups to understand pain points, brainstorm and share updates.
To gain valuable inputs from customers and continue to maintain relationships in a virtual world, we introduced a structured ‘Connect in the New Normal’ framework. This initiative helped us to understand customer needs via several types of virtual engagement tactics. Some examples of this included:
- Organizing regular virtual Quarterly Business Reviews for key accounts
- Hosting live virtual events like ‘Lunch & Learn’ for select accounts
- Hosting and participating in industry webinars
- Communicating company updates, industry developments, and success stories with clients through customized e-mail newsletters
- Celebrating client and team milestones such as anniversaries and award wins
These are unchartered territories for all of us. We urge everyone to cooperate and help each other personally and professionally. We will continue to proactively share updates with full transparency.