Employee resource groups (ERGs) are essential for many organizations, particularly during layoffs and economic uncertainty. ERGs are employees who come together based on shared characteristics such as race, gender, or sexual orientation. These groups often focus on promoting diversity and inclusion, advocating for members within the workplace, and providing support and resources for their members.
One of the critical ways that ERGs support employees during layoffs is by providing a sense of community. Belonging to a community can foster feelings of security and safety and help build self-esteem and self-worth, all crucial to human well-being and mental health. During precarious times, employees can quickly feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues and the organization. ERGs offer a space for employees to share their experiences and feelings, which is a vital way for employees to process and cope with the challenges they may be facing.
Another way that ERGs support employees is by providing career development resources and networking opportunities for their members; this can be particularly important during layoffs as employees may seek new job opportunities. Having a strong network can increase visibility within an industry, which can lead to more job opportunities in the future. Many ERGs provide mentoring opportunities, which can be a valuable way for employees to learn new skills and gain practical experience during uncertainty.
ERGs can also be essential in promoting diversity and inclusion within the workplace. During times of uncertainty, organizations often focus solely on cost-cutting measures without paying attention to the importance of diversity and inclusion. However, ERGs can help to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain a priority for the organization, even during difficult times. ERG leaders can provide valuable insights and perspectives on navigating layoffs and economic uncertainty inclusively and equitably for all employees. Whether that be mentioning the race breakdown of those laid off, noting the market average for separation packages, or advocating for employees.
After the George Floyd protests of 2020, many organizations began reconsidering their DEI and hiring practices. Companies started a mission to increase their workforce diversity. Unfortunately, many companies approach layoffs with a “last in - first out” mindset, which means that the diverse candidates they hired are likely disproportionately laid off. A study by, Longitudinal research revealed that Black employees had been particularly affected by this hiring and firing.
When ERG leaders and members are wiped out during layoffs, the remaining members wonder if the company is committed to DEI. Employees who are unaffected by company layoffs may still seek stable employment elsewhere. When diverse employees don’t feel valued, companies may lose more employees than they were planning. Nurturing ERGs, even through layoffs, can make the surviving employees think their work and culture are valued.
In conclusion, ERGs support employees during layoffs and economic uncertainty. They provide a sense of community and belonging, resources and support for career development, and promote and advocate for diversity and inclusion within the workplace. By providing these resources and support, ERGs can help employees navigate the challenges they may be facing and mitigate feelings of isolation and disconnection. Organizations need to invest in and support their ERGs during times of uncertainty to ensure that all employees are sustained and have the resources they need to succeed.
To learn more about how Chezie can help support your organization during these times, schedule some time with one of our founders here.