Life at Brigade
This BPO outfit intends to double its employee strength in 2005.
Brigade Corporation has mastered the art of taking care of its employees.
The vision of the company—‘our power is our people’—says a lot about the company’s HR practices. Brigade conducts two different surveys—the employee satisfaction survey and the annual compensation survey—to ascertain the drawbacks of the organisation as well as those of its employees.
Apart from its Chicago and San Francisco facilities, US-based Brigade has centres in Hyderabad and Chennai. The company has drawn up plans for the induction, training and career advancement of its employees, whose number has been growing rapidly. Though the current headcount is already 1,000 in Hyderabad and 500 in Chennai, Brigade’s goal is to increase its strength beyond 3,000 people in 2005 by adding 500 people every quarter from now onwards.
A company spokesperson says that Brigade is the largest third-party BPO organisation in Andhra Pradesh. It provides customer relationship management (CRM) and BPO services to Global-1000 corporations.
States Sri Dasari, CEO of the company, “We implement process-oriented initiatives, so for everything there is a process. Our aim is to make Brigade a company of choice. Career decisions of individuals are usually influenced by family members. Hence we would like to top the list of family choices when it comes to careers.” The attrition rate at Brigade is half the industry average—50-60 percent—though it varies from place to place. The number of people being recruited based upon referrals is rising. At present, more than 10 percent of those who are hired have been referred by employees.
Apart from the usual practice of conducting written tests and interviews, Brigade insists on psychology tests. Irrespective of experience, every employee has to undergo a training programme prescribed by the company.
The company has drawn up a 45-day training programme. All new employees need to get certified on various parameters such as language proficiency, process training, corporate etiquette and how to dress—something necessary because 60 percent of Brigade’s recruits are fresh out of college. Brigade also sends people abroad for training in new products and services.
To transform its employees into managers, Brigade implements a 40-hour Millennium Leadership Programme (MLP). Since doing a job is different from getting a job done, MLP focusses on managerial skills development. In order to reward those who perform well, Brigade conducts an annual compensation benchmark study. Those who get 75 percent in the performance evaluation stand at the average benchmark level, and 125 percent is considered to be high-end. The best performers always get extra benefits.
Top performers are included as members of the CEO Club, a platform from where members can exchange views and participate in the company’s decision-making process. As Brigade strongly feels that employees should be stakeholders in the organisation, it issues stock options to them. On birthdays, a car is sent to the employee’s house to pick up his or her entire family and take them to a star hotel in the city; the company bears the expenses.
All employees get to take a break from work, Brigade implements a number of extra-curricular activities that make life more interesting. The company encourages people to showcase their talents in games and other areas. Employees in Hyderabad are very active in cricket, participate in a number of local matches, and have a trekking club. The Chennai centre actively participates in bowling. For those who cannot move from the workplace, there are one-minute games that give immediate relief without disturbing the ongoing work.
Brigade has a chief fun officer (CFO) exclusively for designing, framing and implementing various games for employees with the aim of developing a sense of belonging towards the organisation.
As part of its responsibility towards society, Brigade encourages its employees to participate in a number of welfare programmes. The company helps orphanages by funding and organising various entertainment programmes for them. It actively participated in the recent tsunami relief activities. The company is also planning to adopt two villages near Hyderabad for providing total educational support to underprivileged children.