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Getting Started with Employee Resource Groups

June 18, 2018

Getting Started with Employee Resource Groups

by Alex Shubat

 

At Espresa, we have the benefit of working with top employers on building their portfolio of workplace programs. The biggest trend we’re seeing in the HR market currently is the demand for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

These clubs and programs offer employees the opportunity to organize around certain affinities, needs, concerns or interests. They usually develop organically from similar employee interests within the organization and create a sense of community.

HR executives love ERGs for their ability to create community and improve overall morale and employee retention, but they struggle with how to foster new groups and ensure their continued success.

In this blog, we’ll define the types of Employee Resource Groups and talk about how you can get more participation within your own organization.

4 Common Types of ERGs

“Employee Resource Groups” is a broad definition for multiple types of employee programs. We most commonly see four different types:

1) Volunteer Programs: Employees love to give back, and so they’ll form their own group to support the charities they want to help. These charities may be a seasonal collection in the office, donations or an ongoing employee gathering outside of work.

To support these types of programs, employees primarily need help with awareness. Some companies will offer donation matching, which often requires a fundraising tool showing how many donations have been received.

2) Diversity Groups: Employees who are in a minority can feel alienated within an organization. These groups foster a sense of belonging within the organization and allow them to share their challenges and brainstorm ways to be more inclusive within the organization.

Diversity groups are best supported by raising awareness of their meeting days and times.

3) Affinity Clubs: Many employees may have similar interests and would like to start a club to socialize around their hobbies. Common affinity groups are biking clubs, wine and cheese clubs, and book clubs.

Clubs are best supported by providing them with awareness and scheduling needs so that they know how many people to prepare for. Some organizations will offer a club stipend if they reach a certain number of employees in attendance.

4) Professional Development Groups: The focus of these groups is to share knowledge across multiple business units or generations. Groups have included coding groups, leadership training and learning new technologies.

Professional development groups are best supported with awareness and scheduling options.

Employee Resource Groups address the need organizations have to offer a multitude of employee programs that are designed and run by employees. Some companies choose to sponsor these programs if they reach a certain size. Others will set guidelines for participation (for example, a club must have two employee organizers).

Each company needs to decide how to support and promote employee programs without burdening a busy HR department. Companies have traditionally done this manually with fliers and calendar invites. But an employee programs automation platform can make it easier to offer scheduling and promotions.

Using the platform, the administrator can set up employee organizer roles so that the employees may have complete autonomy over running their clubs, groups and programs.
A group treasurer can use the ERG module’s budgeting and expense tracking capability. Empowering employees to create and maintain their own groups leads to an increased sense of community and improves employee retention.

Originally published at HR Technologist.

 

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