Creating a long-lasting employee resource group

Rich results of employees sit around a boardroom table

You started an ERG; now what? Based on creating long-lasting experience-based communities for groups within an organization, ERGs are a great way to ensure all employees are heard and have a place to go for support.

Getting an ERG off the ground is the first step to supporting all the different groups in your company. 

But now, you have to keep it going.

What should a long-lasting ERG be doing?

Resource group activities can take many forms – whether you’re meeting as a group to discuss your shared identity, coming together for events, sharing community thoughts with executives, or all of the above, the purpose is to give employees with common ties a voice

Monitoring the effects the group has is key to ensuring long-lasting success. If done properly, ERGs can help foster a strong sense of belonging and bond your team together. 

Employee resource groups should be open conversations any member can contribute to. People with similar experiences need to be able to join the forum without fear of judgment, and they should be able to get to know people on a social and professional level.

That conversation can’t just stay in one place, either – there needs to be a pipeline to the leadership and decision-makers to bring them into the process. Every step of the ladder needs to be included and made aware of needs and issues raised by the community.

At the end of the day, simply asking employees their thoughts can help track progress. Ask if they feel the program has given them a voice, if they feel supported by the community, or if they still feel “outside” the company. Examine how leadership reacts to the suggestions of the group – it isn’t working if nothing ever comes from the discussion.

How do you keep ERGs afloat?

Resource groups do little good if they don’t receive support. Diversity and inclusion strategy should encourage the formation of these groups and make sure they’re visible to all.

Support starts on the paperwork side, as well. Onboarding guides and general direction are key to making sure groups can make the most of their community right away. While the employer shouldn’t police who joins these groups, they can provide budget and organizational support. 

A roadmap is another key thing to have in writing. The group needs a well-defined plan for what it hopes to do and how it’ll measure if it gets there. All members need to know the different ways they can participate and contribute. This can be done through already-existing company platforms or through ERG-specific software.

Establishing a platform for communication for group members can also help it survive. Foster a bond outside of the office – platforms like Slack or other chat rooms give members an easy way to stay connected whenever they want to talk. Internet presence can also make it easy for other employees to discover and join the group.

Once again, leadership has to be involved. If the executive team makes it clear that ERGs are important to the success of the company, there will be greater incentive on all ends to maintain them. The executives have to be willing to support and raise awareness of the groups without taking personal ownership of them.

While the c-suite has to be in support of the process, it’s important as well to give the resource groups room to expand. Let them decide the scope of what they hope to accomplish and who they include. This autonomy will establish the strong, capable network these ERGs hope to make part of the workplace.

How can Cockerham & Associates help?

To facilitate development of these long-lasting groups in your company, we offer implementation toolkits, operating plan development, employee group leader training, executive sponsor coaching and more through our ERG Insight™ technology. 
ERG Insight™ is an application built for team management. It can provide annual planning, budget considerations, performance monitoring, initiative and event management, chat room collaboration and more – check out our website to see how we can support long-lasting diversity in your company.

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