The Benefits of Employee Resource Groups

Support your underrepresented employees!

Fostering a diverse and inclusive community at your organization should be your top priority. Developing an employee resource group (ERG) is a very effective strategy to make your diverse workforce feel included and give them a voice to raise concerns. 

Employee resource groups don’t just help your workforce; they can also be very beneficial to the organization. Such groups are detrimental to improving the employee experience and increasing satisfaction levels.

So what are employee resource groups, and how are they so effective? Read on ahead to find out!

What Are Employee Resource Groups?

Employee resource groups are an inclusivity initiative that seeks to connect employees who have common backgrounds or interests. These are employee-led, voluntary groups that are supported by organizations. These groups aim to bring people who share particular characteristics together. 

Diversity and inclusivity have become  very important initiatives. Just hiring a diverse workforce isn’t enough; you have to give them a safe working environment and make them feel included and appreciated. Inclusivity-driven initiatives like ERGs are best for such a  purpose. They help foster a community for people of all ethnicities, ages, genders, and races. 

Employee resource groups are a great way to give voices to otherwise marginalized groups in the workplace. It acts as a forum where these groups of people can share opinions, raise concerns, and seek help from those who have similar experiences. 

These employee-led groups can prove to be very beneficial for organizations. They help employees carve a clear path to their personal and professional goals. It leads to more engaged employees who are proactive, success-driven, and have a growth mindset. 

An Example of Barclays ERG (Source: Barclays)

Why Do We Need Employee Resource Groups?

Employee resource groups may seem like just another top-down company initiative, but they’re far from it. The reason is that they’re able to bring results. The contributing factor here is that they’re employee-driven. Although they are supported by organizations, the operations of an ERG are completely dependent on the workforce. This gives these groups the ability to effect real change in the organization. 

Marginalized and underrepresented groups lack support systems and opportunities in the workplace. Creating a formal group with similar people helps give them a support system they are in dire need of. They can talk about challenges they’re facing in the company and find help from more experienced coworkers. This constant access to bias-free guidance and support drives them to achieve more. 

ERGs can also bring employees closer together with their organizations. By giving them a formal voice, employers can understand the challenges these marginalized employees face on a regular basis. It’s a platform where both parties can sit and discuss how to bring about changes that can improve the employee experience. Hence, ERGs help improve internal relations and employee satisfaction levels. 

Employee resource groups are considered to be very effective in achieving the following goals: 

  • Improving the physical working environment and conditions for every employee
  • Help marginalized and alienated employees feel included, accepted, and appreciated
  • Providing a forum where difficult conversations can be had safely
  • Address hidden frustrations and problems and bring them to the surface
  • Bringing up professional and personal development opportunities
  • Increase employee satisfaction and reduce churn

What Are The Benefits? 

Not many companies invest a lot of time and resources into inclusivity initiatives. As such, there is a lot of room for unconscious bias and segregation to occur in these companies. An ERG can be a profound solution for these companies to uncover such biases and address them. 

For example, in a company where women aren’t being promoted to leadership positions, a female-led ERG can raise a formal concern. By discussing their experiences, they can uncover the root of such a bias, figure out strategies to tackle this obstacle, and then take it up with upper management. 

Some of the benefits of employee resource groups are: 

Employee Retention

ERGs are an effective strategy to improve employee experiences and keep them satisfied. As job satisfaction increases, it becomes easier to retain your employees. Employees who are engaged and have inclusive experiences at your company will have more loyalty and will remain with you longer. This helps reduce recruiting costs and create a more positive work environment. 

Attract Top Talent

The labor force of today isn’t just looking for higher wages. They want more than just money. They’re looking for work opportunities that feel like family and help them grow both personally and professionally. They want to work at a company that is known for its diversity and inclusivity initiatives. An ERG can improve your brand’s reputation and help you attract the best talent on the market. 

Uncover Issues

By giving your underrepresented employees a platform and a voice, you’re creating the opportunity to uncover issues and inequities that might have gone unnoticed. These groups are a safe space to discuss the challenges that marginalized employees face every day and find solutions to eradicate them. All of this leads to better communication between the workforce and management and ensures swift responses to prevalent employee issues. 

Leadership Training

The purpose of an employee resource group isn’t just limited to forming a support network for underrepresented groups. An ERG can also be used to provide leadership training and mentorship to employees. This way, organizations can discover hidden gems in their workforce. They can nurture them with development programs to prepare them for future leadership. Eventually, these companies will have more diverse leadership, which is always good for partnership and investment opportunities. 

Challenges of Running ERGs

Developing and implementing an effective employee resource group is easier said than done. There are a lot of challenges that the workforce faces when creating an ERG. 

One of the most prevalent challenges is inadequate support from management. It’s very common that these resource groups receive inconsistent support from executives, both in terms of resources and budgets. Most companies think diversity hiring is all they need to do for their DE&I efforts. As such, they don’t prioritize ERGs as a diversity initiative. Any ERG already formed doesn’t receive the full support it needs to bring about any change. 

Organizations that do support ERGs often consider that developing an ERG has solved all their issues. This is another major challenge with employee resource groups. Forming a group is just the first step. Companies need to take them seriously, support them, listen to their concerns, and prioritize resolving their issues. Just developing an ERG will not solve discrimination issues or remove biases. Taking actionable steps on the advice of these ERGs will help resolve issues. 

Create An ERG Today!

Employee resource groups are a great strategy to support your employees and create a more positive work culture and environment at your organization. These groups create a platform for employees from marginalized communities to voice their concerns and share experiences. 

An ERG helps you support your diverse workforce and brings about many benefits for the organization. They help provide positive experiences for employees and improve job satisfaction, which in turn prevents employee turnover. 

Do you have an employee resource group at your organization? Talk to us in the comments below!

Featured Image: People Matters

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