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Are your ERG leaders suffering from burnout and what to do about it?

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a crucial part of many organizations, providing support and representation for employees with shared experiences, backgrounds, or interests. However, the role of leading an ERG can also be stressful, and burnout among ERG leaders is increasingly becoming a problem. In this article, we explore the causes of burnout in ERG leaders, the consequences of this trend, and what organizations can do to prevent and address it.

What Causes Burnout in ERG Leaders (and Why is it on the Rise)?


Burnout among leaders of employee resource groups (ERGs), or Employee Networks, is becoming increasingly prevalent and is concerning because it has the potential to negatively impact both individuals and organizations as they strive to create equitable and diverse workplaces. There are several factors that can contribute to burnout in ERG leaders.


First, the demands of leading an ERG can be intense, particularly if the leader is also juggling other responsibilities such as work and personal commitments. ERG leaders often dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to their role, and this level of commitment can be unsustainable in the longer term.


Second, if leaders experience a lack of support from within their organization this can also contribute to burnout. If ERG leaders feel that their efforts are not valued or supported by their employers, they may become disenchanted and eventually burn out. This can also be the case if ERG leaders feel that they are not given the resources and support they need to effectively carry out their responsibilities.


Third, a lack of clear goals and expectations for ERG leaders can also contribute to burnout. If leaders are unsure about their role and responsibilities, or if they feel that their efforts are not aligned with the organization's goals, they may become frustrated and exhausted by the situation.


Fourth, the emotional toll of leading an ERG can also contribute to burnout. ERG leaders often deal with sensitive and challenging issues, such as discrimination and prejudice, and this can take an emotional toll over time.


Finally, the lack of personal boundaries and the difficulty of balancing work and personal life can also be a contributory factor. If leaders do not set clear boundaries and prioritize self-care, they may become overwhelmed and feel they cannot continue.


In conclusion, burnout among ERG leaders is a complex issue that can have significant consequences for both individuals and organizations. It is important for organizations to recognize and address the factors that contribute to burnout, and to provide support and resources to help ERG leaders on how to maintain their well-being.

Signs of burnout in ERG leaders


Recognizing the signs of burnout in leaders of employee resource groups (ERGs) is crucial for promoting their well-being and helping them to manage the stresses of the role before it becomes a chronic issue. Some common signs of burnout in ERG leaders include:


First, decreased motivation and enthusiasm for their role. ERG leaders may lose their passion for their work and no longer feel a strong connection to their ERG. They may also feel less engaged and less invested in their work.


Second, feelings of frustration and discouragement. ERG leaders may become frustrated with their work and the lack of progress they are making. They may also feel discouraged and demotivated, which can negatively impact their performance and morale.


Third, physical and emotional exhaustion. ERG leaders may feel physically and emotionally exhausted, which can manifest as fatigue, headaches, insomnia, or changes in appetite or mood.


Fourth, decreased productivity and performance. ERG leaders may struggle to focus and may experience decreased productivity and performance. This can impact their ability to effectively lead their ERG and fulfil their responsibilities.


Finally, decreased engagement and participation in ERG activities. ERG leaders may reduce their engagement and participation in ERG activities, negatively impacting their ERG's ability to achieve its goals and objectives.


Recognizing the signs of burnout in your ERG leaders is important for promoting as it is the key to protecting the wellbeing of the individual and key to preventing the phenomenon spreading in your organization. Organizations have an important role to play in supporting their ERG leaders and addressing the factors that contribute to burnout, including stress, lack of support, and lack of recognition.


By supporting their ERG leaders, organizations can reduce the impact of burnout and promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture and support the development of successful and sustainable ERGs.

Preventing burnout in ERG leaders


There are several steps that organizations can take to prevent burnout in ERG leaders.


First, organizations can provide clear goals and expectations for ERG leaders. This typically should include outlining the role and responsibilities of ERG leaders, as well as providing regular feedback and guidance to ensure that their efforts are aligned with the organization's goals.


Second, organizations should have a plan for providing support and resources to their network of ERG leaders. This can include providing training and development opportunities, as well as access to mentorship and coaching programs. Organizations can also provide financial resources to support ERG activities, such as funding for events and programs.


Third, organizations can create a culture of recognition and appreciation for ERG leaders. This can include formal recognition programs, such as awards or employee appreciation events, as well as informal recognition, such as regular check-ins and thank you notes.


Fourth, organizations can promote a healthy work-life balance for ERG leaders. This can include flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting or flexible schedules, as well as providing opportunities for self-care and stress management, such as yoga or mindfulness classes.


Fifth, ERG leaders can feel isolated from others doing a similar role; organizations can provide opportunities for ERG leaders to connect with and learn from one another. This can include regular meetings and forums, as well as opportunities to participate in cross-functional initiatives and projects.


Finally, organizations can provide ongoing education and training for ERG leaders on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can include workshops and training sessions on topics such as unconscious bias and cultural competency. This will help your leaders to stay motivated and to feel supported.


In conclusion, preventing burnout among ERG leaders is an important step in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. By providing clear goals, support, recognition, work-life balance, opportunities for learning, and ongoing education and training, organizations can help ERG leaders maintain their well-being and continue to make a positive impact in their communities.

Supporting ERG leaders through burnout


Organizations can play a crucial role in supporting employee resource group (ERG) leaders who are experiencing burnout. Some strategies that organizations can implement include:

  • Providing resources and support for stress management. Organizations can provide resources and support for stress management, including access to counselling services, wellness programs, and mental health resources. By addressing the negative impact of stress and promoting well-being, organizations can support ERG leaders in preventing and managing burnout.

  • Promoting a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. Organizations can create a supportive and inclusive workplace culture by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, and by valuing the contributions of all employees, including ERG leaders. This can help reduce the stress and burnout that ERG leaders may experience and increase their satisfaction with their work.

  • Recognizing and valuing the contributions of ERG leaders. Organizations can do this by providing regular feedback and recognition, and by promoting a culture of appreciation and support. This can help increase the morale and engagement of ERG leaders and reduce the risk of burnout.

  • Providing opportunities for work-life balance. Organizations can provide opportunities for work-life balance by promoting flexible work arrangements, offering paid time off, and encouraging a healthy work-life balance. This approach can help ERG leaders manage their stress-levels and stay well.


In conclusion, organizations can play a crucial role in supporting their community of ERG leaders if they experience burnout. By implementing positive strategies for stress management, promoting a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, and providing regular feedback and recognition, organizations can help ERG leaders overcome challenges and achieve their goals, while also promoting a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Case Studies of Successful Support for ERG Leaders


There are several organizations that have implemented successful programs to support ERG leaders and promote their well-being. Here are a few examples:


Google: Google has implemented a comprehensive program to support its ERG leaders, including regular training and coaching, a supportive community of peers, and opportunities for leaders to take time off and recharge.


Amazon: Amazon has implemented a number of initiatives to support its ERG leaders, including regular check-ins with HR representatives, access to mental health resources, and opportunities to network with peers.


Microsoft: Microsoft has implemented a number of programs to support its ERG leaders, including regular training opportunities, peer mentorship programs, and opportunities for ERG leaders to connect with HR representatives and senior leaders on a regular basis.


Airbnb: Airbnb has implemented a comprehensive program to support its ERG leaders, including regular check-ins with HR representatives, access to mental health resources, and opportunities for ERG leaders to connect with other leaders.


Salesforce: Salesforce has implemented a number of initiatives to support its ERG leaders, including regular training and development opportunities, peer mentorship programs, and opportunities for ERG leaders to connect with HR representatives and senior leaders.



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