As workplaces have become more diverse, employee resource groups (ERG)—internal networking groups based on commonalities such as race, gender and job type—have grown in popularity. And these groups can be a great business booster. Organizations that follow employee resource group best practices find ERGs aren’t just social networks—they can also serve as think tanks to help guide and grow a company by:
- Elevating the voices of employees who might otherwise not get heard
- Helping companies understand customers in particular demographics
- Offering insight on topics like recruiting practices and other initiatives
What’s more, ERGs also help support staff members during times of crisis, like improving communication during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Read on to see how ERGs can help create win-win scenarios in your company.
Find voices that need to be heard
Send a survey to every staff member asking them which ERG groups they feel are needed, and offer company-branded merchandise, like a flashlight pen or a tape measure keychain, to everyone who participates. You can also offer a larger prize as part of a raffle for those who participate. A high-end cooler would be ideal.
Promote inclusive groups
Once you’ve established your groups, make your staff aware of them. Send a company-wide email and mention the groups at meetings and new hire orientations. Give out Flower Pot Mugs as a fun way to let people know you’re growing your ERG groups. Offer a folder with information about the different groups along with the gift.
Remember, people who aren’t part of these demographics can also join as advocates to learn more about how they can help.
Each ERG needs to have a goal, whether it’s to build more diverse leadership or promote your business to diverse communities. Goals help groups monitor success. Employee resource group best practices show that reexamining these goals at least once a year helps ERGs align themselves with company needs.
For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, many ERGs are finding ways to help employees by promoting awareness of mental health issues, offering tips and resources to ensure employees maintain a home/work balance, and organizing virtual events to keep staff connected.
Elect a strong leader
Heading an ERG group is an attractive opportunity, as it provides access to company leadership, helps hone employee leadership skills and allows more say in ERG goals and events. Electing or appointing an employee with excellent people skills and business understanding will help both the ERG and your company succeed.
Get executive sponsorship
ERGs should have an executive sponsor to serve as a public advocate. A sponsor can also mentor ERG members and help influence other company leaders to support the group’s goals. Having this connection in place will ensure ERGs continue to grow and develop.
ERGs for business growth
Following employee resource group best practices gives everyone a voice in the company. And listening to those voices creates opportunities to build a better business.