Growth is a process that companies need to invest in actively. When the company culture encourages its employees to bond together based on their unique experiences, it is taking a step toward bringing the walls down. If you ask anyone working in talent acquisition, they can give you an idea of how vital a sense of community is for anyone to stay with a company. Companies should aim to recruit resources but invest in the people around them. Employee resource groups started in the late 1960s and were called many names, like affinity and business resource groups.
Employee resource groups are made around one unifying identity, whether race, spirituality, or gender. In an era where the concept of a lifelong job has fallen out of relevance, companies need to diversify the paths toward each employee's career goals. Inclusivity shouldn't be a promise left unfulfilled but an idea for them to take things forward and scale accordingly.
What Are Employee Resource Groups?
Employee resource groups are safe spaces made for employees with shared experiences. The shared experience of being black, a woman, or single parents are all unique. They all come with unique challenges and thoughts that only they can know. ERGs are a significant step towards breaking the monotony and the monopoly to make the workplace approachable. ERGs can be considered clubs that support like-minded people and ally with other communities around them.
ERGs are often minority-oriented, and employees manage to bring together various people with a shared identity. An ERG brings experts in their domain within the employee's reach to help them guide themselves in making a career-changing move or a driving move. A definition of ERG might vary from company to company as they lead the project and get to decide which purpose they'd choose to identify with. Due to the origins set in black history, the term ERG usually talks about representation, LGBTQ+ sections, women, African American people, and differently-abled employees.
What Do You Expect From an Employee Resource Group?
Every ERG opens gateways for meeting new people and contributing to a cause beyond your daily work to creating an inclusive work environment. Whether it is the representation that you want to address or to create a safe space for ideas that can drive towards an inclusive workplace and an inclusive environment. Here are five things you can expect from an ERG in your company:
Employees feel heard and included in their workplace; a sense of belonging creates a space for employees to make their voices heard. A no-judgment rule nurtures a culture around professional development for people growing at every pace.
Employees grow into having each other's back and supporting one another. When you imagine yourselves in someone's shoes because you've been there, you relate to their problems and talk about what you did and would've done differently.
Build professional and business networks that help employees from underrepresented backgrounds to benefit from networking opportunities. Connect with leaders and seek mentoring opportunities to open up career advancement through mentorship programs.
Gain visibility by putting yourself out there. Employees can come from all levels of the organization: tech, management, operations, marketing, etc. Junior team members from one team can connect and explore career opportunities in other domains through ERG.
Communicate concerns and understand people from different cultures. Employees give each other a voice when they are together, especially when they have a shared experience that needs to be addressed. Employees who don't come from an underrepresented group can gain the much-needed perspective they are missing by being part of an ERG.
ERGs improve team alignment and boost diversity within your organization. Employees often build relationships within the company organically, but ERGs give a platform to those waiting for an opportunity to connect. The company has a considerable incentive opportunity from the improved cross-team interactions and collaboration between individuals, thereby teams.
How to Make an ERG System Work for Your Company?
To make and pitch an ERG system to your executive sponsor, you need to understand the critical details of your company and what problem an ERG is addressing. There are broad descriptions and explanations of what an ERG should do and what the potential could be, but provide the context of your company and understand how it will make a difference. Here are a few steps you can consider as the guide to employee resource group building:
Make it voluntary for your employees to join. Your ERG system is a community of committed members trying to show up as often as possible and make a difference. But the line to draw is when they feel fatigued and pressured to join and participate in the meetings. ERGs are built to serve and address issues, not to create more. ERGs are often built around the leader with the initiative; pushing people to join and collaborate will make it seem like another meeting they wish to avoid entering. Structure your ERG to involve cooldown periods with varying levels of commitment: Members can choose to run the sessions if they are that committed, and they can decide to show up and attend the meetings if that's their choice.
Let your members create the structure instead of the other way around. As an employee-run initiative, members should decide on structuring and running the group instead of taking a templatized idea from the web and trying to fit in with the team into it. In the first few meetings, re-establish this group for employees to speak and discuss. Ask the employees involved about the mission statement and how you'd like to brainstorm the action. You can have various team members pitch in with what they feel is sustainable for the structure. Install an interim leadership if everyone involved is okay with it and let them build the momentum for the future.
Humble beginnings lead to great endings. Starting small and scaling helps make the dream work; only begin a few ERGs simultaneously. Try to put only a few things on your plate and overwhelm your teams. Build gradually and sustainably through a proper understanding of your resources and focus on performance instead of scattering resources to jeopardize growth. Start compact with a strong base because once your solid member base is established, you can take on the next challenge and host more activities based on the group.
Remember to understand the layers underneath and provide a path beyond the company. Conglomerates and big-sized companies often start with more significant demographics like women employees and black employees, but this will lead to many people joining in to understand and then quickly losing interest in following up because of the enormous sample size. There might be a need to understand niches and subcategorize the groups to help them have a dialogue. These groups can also branch out from larger ERGs to bring their issues to the table. Employee development should be a consistent effort from the senior leadership but not an option for anyone involved.
Importance of Employee Resource Group Activities in 2023
As the workplace continues to evolve, the need for employee resource group activities will become even more critical in 2023. Employee resource groups provide a supportive network for employees of all backgrounds and can be a valuable source of information and insight. In a rapidly changing business landscape, these groups can aid in ensuring that all employees feel included and valued. They can also play a vital role in attracting and retaining top talent. As the workforce becomes increasingly diverse, employee resource group activities will become essential to any successful organization.
How Do Employee Resource Group Activities Help Employees?
Spend enough time with any group of people, and disputes will inevitably break out. Businesses are no different - employees are human, after all. However, the workplace doesn't have to be a hotbed of drama and infighting. There are plenty of things managers can do to encourage employees to get along and work together productively. One of the most effective is to schedule regular team-building activities.
These activities can be simple and inexpensive. Simple things like holding a monthly lunch where everyone can chat and get to know each other better can work wonders. Or, you could organize regular after-work drinks or outings to local attractions. The important thing is that these activities provide opportunities for employees to socialize and build relationships with each other outside of work.
Employees who feel like they have friends at work are more likely to be productive and motivated. They're also less likely to take time off when things get tough - after all, they don't want to let their friends down. So, scheduling regular team-building activities is a great place to start if you're looking for ways to improve employee productivity and morale.
What Are the Best Activities to Engage in for an ERG in 2023?
Most activities to engage your employees should be centered on what they want, what they seek from the initiatives, and what their takeaways are. Providing value to the attendees also helps in leadership development because you identify the kind of future leaders that come from the spotlight. One of the ways to boost employee engagement within your organization is through mentoring programs with leaders across domains. Companies can flourish and make things happen through the positive impact of an ERG.
Learning With Lunches: Lunch & Learn Initiatives
Lunch and learns are events and lectures that happen around a particular topic. Here employees can gather to listen to a distinguished speaker talk about something applicable to everyone; this happens in budding startups and established corporations. The speaker is often a team leader within the system or an icon that people can look up to and become inspired. Book a professional to discuss specific topics to keep people committed and interested. Talks about financial literacy, time and stress management, finding the right mentor, and occupational health can invigorate the people in your ERG to maximize awareness.
Parties and Organizing Social Events
Start with a bang and cash in the rest. Displaying a vote of intention toward growing the ERG is integral in keeping the word around the office as the ones celebrating the diversity. Kickoff parties can coordinate with a broader work community to interact with group members to distribute awareness of the group's existence. Occasions such as women's day, pride month, black history month, and Latinx heritage month are a reminder to make a difference.
Group Meals: Online & Hybrid
Food is an excellent topic to bond over, communal and cultural. Sharing a meal is not just about the calories; conversations that happen while eating are nothing like conversations in a meeting room. In the current hybrid structure, group meals are one idea that builds stronger bonds among the team members. Group members can fly down to a familiar location and discuss their ideas face-to-face, work from the site, and need not spare extra time to meet outside the schedule, as a lunch break is enough to bond and gel with your team. Group lunches can also happen virtually; depending on the budget, you can pull a secret Santa on one another and order food for your colleague. This will come under employee benefits, as most employers cover the cost of the meals.
Networking Sessions and Conferences
Career development is one of the main reasons why someone joins an ERG. Utilize networking events to know like-minded people within your company's industry. Companies can host and scale the events to a point where individuals from other companies can join. Through events like these, you learn a lot more about the happenings in the industry. It helps you gain perspective on what's working and what needs to change within your company. Companies can host and assess themselves when exposed to industrial changes beyond what they envision.
Retreats and Company-Sponsored Vacations
Bonding, relaxing and uncluttering, it's possible to have it all in one place when you're away from the office structure. Especially when the field of work is technology, the unwavering focus gets them close to burnout after having to work day in and day out. This is where holding informal hours-long retreats to a picnic spot, a trek, or a jog can help your team find the extra energy to go that extra mile with you. You can even move offsite and plan a days-long retreat while doing work, as the hybrid structure allows for that.
Conferences and Summits
Career development events are a perfect place for lifetime learners and people who are finding a mentor and growing their professional network. Established ERGs can take up the challenge of organizing an event with a renowned speaker to inspire and help your teams regain lost mojo. ERGs can team up to attend a conference together and cut costs by reducing the logistics burden. Employers can cover and reimburse the expenses or help find the events and secure the invites.
Coworking Days: Days When Online Meets Offline
Coworking spaces are often agile and allow for flexibility for everyone to join in a common point for a particular event. Remote teammates often lack the bond that office-going employees have with each other. You can address these issues by having an event in your ERG that brings people in touch with each other; the ERG can coordinate meetups across schedules to find a timeslot where people can meet in person. More and more coworking spaces are opening up to having classes, panels, and networking events which falls into the ERG's professional growth goal. Coworking spaces also help you connect with experts across industries as you see workers working from the location.
Things to Do With an ERG: Inclusivity With Individuality
One of the most significant assets for business growth is the coming together of ideas, individuals, and the ambitions they bring to the company. Employee experience ranges from one person to another; bringing them together to discuss what's happening will always pay off in the long run. The benefits of employee resource groups extend beyond the company. ERG impacts the company's potential by reaching the larger community with its vision of tomorrow. Inclusion initiatives have taken steps toward any company's DEI goals and helped them achieve diversity goals. Annual events and educational events are a great place to begin for broader organizations to take a call on which way they need to grow.
The ERG system addresses several structures' need for more professional development opportunities. While the ERG focuses on being a career coaching place, the design is purely employee driven and has the versatile nature of volunteer programs. They have the potential to achieve what several roundtable discussions on diversity strategies can't. They provide the much-needed base as the opportunity for employees to take the next step into their future.
Acting on the lack of blended communities was the beginning of an ERG. In an iterative nature, it has evolved into a community service centered on a broader talent community and aligning with the company's goals. Coming a long way from the unstructured way they were conducted, the corporate culture can see the advantage of activities centered around people instead of actions. ERGs continue to be the powerful modern tool for motivating your underrepresented employees and delivering the best results. While they are not the answer to everything, they are the first step in making voices audible again. Representation of people in the right place to tell the correct stories they live through opens the minds of others to understand that there is a picture beyond what is seen. Achieve diversity around you by achieving diversity in your thoughts and opinions.
Welcome 2023 With Some of the Best Employee Resource Group Activities
Celebrating the differences and including everyone in the conversation make the company and the world better. You enhance your leadership to grow better by exposing them to the world they do not see beyond. As a proving ground for leaders, ERGs give them the right stead to prove that they can provide a voice to the unheard. Creating an inclusive culture is a gradual process; investing time and consistent efforts raises the morale of everyone involved. The ERG system lets you see who can see the picture and structure the goals accordingly. Connect with us to know more.