Building successful Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be an extremely powerful way to help organizations understand the workplace experience of their under-represented communities. As well as acting as spaces for communities to connect, engage and support each other, they can drive talent attraction, lower attrition rates, support talent pipelines for promotion and amplify employer brand.
So, what is an ERG?
ERGs are employee-led groups that share a common interest, identity, or affiliation. Typically they are internal groups run by volunteers. As well as enhancing employee kinship and understanding ERGs can also build employees’ and leaders’ confidence to understand the minority community concerned, accelerate personal development and drive culture change from within an organization.
Employee Resource Groups Top Tips
· Encourage your employees to establish a clear ERG vision (WHY they have set up) and mission statement (WHAT they are going to do) that aligns with their organization.
· Set SMART goals. For your ERGs to succeed, they must set realistic and achievable goals that can be accomplished within a defined time frame. It’s very easy to try to do everything – yet the key to ERG success is keeping focused.
· Start small and scale up. Build a solid community of members and allies and look to drive broader change from there. A solid foundation is important.
· A Safe Space. Creating a safe space where employees can be open and vulnerable with their peers – as well as creative as they consider what processes or behaviours could be improved – is an important factor. Remember that creating this environment can take time.
· Leadership. Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. And running an ERG can provide valuable leadership experience to those who may not always have the opportunity in their other roles. Some ERGs may centre on a single leader with a committee to support. Others may have co-leads and a flatter structure. Your leaders will often be volunteers, so support them to remain focused and not over-commit.
· Training and Resources. If you are looking for your ERGs to be successful, provide them with relevant training to help them perform successfully. Both leadership training and the functional management skills required to oversee an ERG will be needed.
· Measure Progress. This is key to your ERGs’ success. Provide your ERGs with the tools to track and measure their accomplishments. Measuring success is so important. Not only can you measure how successful the group is by keeping track of data on membership, attendance, budget, participation, etc, you can also measure their success against the impact they are having on the organization. (Employee engagement, retention rates for their community, or promotion rates from any mentoring program as examples).
· Budget. No group can have an impact without resources. If you want your ERGs to thrive over time – particularly if you are looking for them to support you in making positive change – you will need to allocate resources to achieve this. And where ERG and their potential impact grows, investment should follow, so, plan for this in your annual budget cycle.
By creating successful Employee Resource Groups, you will allow employees from less-represented groups to connect and provide opportunities to share ideas, offer support and advice, and create a community. As well as giving these employees a sense of belonging, over time, these groups can be used to evolve your culture, engage with current and prospective employees and even raise your profile with partners, customers and the communities you work with.
We hope that our top tips help you to create successful Employee Resource Groups.