World Finance earns national Top Workplaces designation
Greenville-based World Finance, a people-focused finance company providing personal installment loan solutions and personal tax preparation services, was named a 2021 Top Workplaces USA , the only S.C.-based company to receive this prestigious designation. Most recently, World Finance was announced as one of South Carolina’s Top Workplaces in 2021 as well as a 2021 Top Workplaces in the financial services industry.
The recognitions add to a total of eight Top Workplaces awards the brand has received in the past year, including five regional 2020 Top Workplaces awards in New Mexico, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
The prestigious 2021 Top Workplaces USA independent award was presented by Energage and based on employee feedback gathered from more than 1,100 large multi-state organizations.
This year, the award was especially significant as it recognized companies that have successfully built and maintained strong employee connections and cultures of success in the midst of unprecedented challenges.
Chad Prashad, CEO of World Acceptance Corporation, parent company of World Finance, and Clint Dyer, chief branch operations officer, say the impact of the global health crisis brought numerous changes for World Finance, requiring everyone to embrace a spirit of flexibility, adaptability and innovation.
And due to World’s HR efforts and company culture, particularly a supportive CEO who acknowledges life has changed, employees and managers tackled the issues together, always with a customer focus in mind.
Founded in 1962, World Acceptance (NASDAQ: WRLD) provides personal installment loan solutions and personal tax preparation and filing services to more than 1 million customers each year.
The company primarily serves a segment of the population that does not have ready access to credit. But unlike many other lenders in this segment, World works with its customers to understand their broader financial pictures, ensures individuals have the ability and stability to make payments, and helps them achieve their financial goals.
In its last fiscal year, the company helped more than 225,000 individuals improve their credit score out of subprime and deep subprime financial situations.
A key during the pandemic has been heightened communication through video calls and other means to ensure branches stayed well connected with corporate managers and support staff and to refocus on shorter-term goals, Prashad and Dyer say.
In addition to the adoption of virtual and remote technology for company communications, corporate employees, branch managers and auditors shifted to remote work as early as mid-March of 2020.
Flexible branch hours were added to better accommodate the needs of essential workers and parents impacted by school closures, as well as a digital loan application and funding process to support social distancing.
Early on, World began texting customers and branch employees to explain how to defer loan payments without penalties and fees during the pandemic.
Prashad says the Top Workplaces USA award “demonstrates that our initiatives and commitment to culture truly do make a difference in the lives of our nearly 3,500 team members, and how that level of engagement translates into the care they put into serving World Finance customers in communities throughout the country.”
“We work hard to not only serve our customers, but to also create a culture and environment that encourages every member of our team to serve with empathy and expertise,” he says.
What played to the company’s advantage, Dyer says, is its family atmosphere, with most branch locations having just two to three employees.
“Covid wasn’t a time where you could fake it,” Dyer adds. “Who you were showed up.”
World Finance employs more than 3,300 people at over 1,200 community-based branches across 16 states. Another 200 work at the corporate headquarters and call center on Main Street in downtown Greenville.
Earlier this year, World Finance surprised 10 Covid-19 frontline nurses with a collective $20,000 gift on The Dr. Oz Show.
World’s mission is to help people “Get Back to the Good,” and the nurses’ selfless dedication to their patients embodies the company’s goal of helping others in a time of need, World officials say.
As members of the virtual audience, the nurses were surprised with the news of the gift during the show, which aired Feb. 4, and were chosen due to their experience working on some of the highest risk Covid-floors in hospitals across the country.
“Growing up, I watched my own mother put others’ needs before her own throughout her four-decade career as a nurse, and I saw firsthand the dedication and passion it takes to serve in health care,” Prashad says. “We were thrilled to have this opportunity to do what we do best — help people get back to the good in life. This gift was just one way to express our appreciation for the health care providers, essential workers and our own employees who have worked hard to help those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The company also sponsored an internal awards giveaway - up to $3,000 each - for employees cited by co-workers for extraordinary work. One woman made more than 100 to-go lunches for others. Other employees sewed masks that could be worn during the pandemic.
Prashad, before he became CEO, worked for four years on World’s analytics side. But he quickly learned as CEO, as he gained experience, to swing his decision-making more to the people side to get his employees involved and not just rely on data.
“My job is to make sure everyone’s aligned on our long-term vision as a company and the culture that it takes to solve those problems,” he says.
He holds virtual meetings with field employees, or one-on-one in-person meetings with home office employees – four or five job levels below his CEO rank – so they can ask about the company’s direction or which management styles to emulate, Prashad says.
He also has a special “Hey Chad” email address for employees to use if they’d like.
“To create a really strong company culture, it has to be authentic,” Prashad says.
That, he says, is a primary driver to being one of the Top Workplaces.
For more information about World Finance and to view open career opportunities, visit CareersByWorld.com.