Posted October 23, 2015 by

Employee resource groups–support in the workplace

diverse group of business people having a meeting

Diverse group of business people having a meeting. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Employees don’t want to be lone wolves in the workplace, do they? We all want to feel supported by others at work. Our confidence grows, our productivity increases, and we believe there is nothing we can’t accomplish. Sharing common interests with fellow workers may encourage participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Employee resource groups are groups voluntarily led by employees who share common interests, life experiences, and/or backgrounds. ERGs enhance employees’ professional lives through professional and personal development while providing cultural and social support. Goals, leadership structure, and functioning can be set by ERGs. However, ERGs function most effectively when advocated by employers. There are various types and focuses of ERGs including the following:

  • People with disabilities
  • Military veterans
  • Multicultural men and women
  • LGBT employees
  • Women

Benefits exist for employers, too, when it comes to ERGs. One benefit is supporting company goals. For example, diversity and inclusion are priorities in today’s workplace; since ERGs emphasize these interests, they reinforce company values in recruiting a diverse and inclusive workforce. Another benefit is employee satisfaction. When employees are happy, they perform better, and employee retention improves.

ERGs positively impact recruiting and affect new hires. Companies recruiting candidates should remember that job seekers (especially Millennials) are more likely to apply if they make candidates aware of their ERGs, based on a survey by Software Advice.

How can ERGs assist in the talent acquisition process? Consider a report from Mercer; it mentions Sodexo’s ERG leadership team assisting Sodexo University in creating an interviewing skills workshop to help employees compete for internal job openings. Discussing ERGs with new hires is a great idea for employers; providing new employees with information about ERGs gives them an accurate view of their new employer’s values.

ERGs can also prove beneficial to employers during the onboarding process. Onboarding refers to how employers assist new employees become better acquainted with employers and company culture. Onboarding involves obtaining the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are the standard to company success. ERGs can be a key factor in onboarding for new hires. ERGs are engaging and inclusive, providing a support system to help employees understand how the company operates. ERGs not only inform new employees of important unwritten rules about company culture, but they also aid in boosting morale and employee retention.

If you share common interests, life experiences, and/or backgrounds with coworkers, consider joining or starting an employee resource group and offering support and a sense of belonging to others.

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