ERGs (employee resource groups) are driven and participated by employees with shared traits, such as ethnicity, gender, lifestyle, or religious affiliation. These self-help groups enable workers to share advancement strategies and career obstacles. The Wall Street Journal reported that 35% of companies have added or expanded their support for ERGs since the start of 2020. Numerous organizations have taken an interest in ERGs because they promote an inclusive corporate culture to investors, workers, and consumers. ERGs go beyond influencing insights about a company’s branding and reputation. They can also strengthen employee engagement and improve work conditions for alienated employees.
Below, we’ll provide a more in-depth discussion on why ERGS are essential for your business.
In our previous post ‘3 Ways ERGs Can Support Employee Mental Health’, we explained that mental health is still stigmatized in workplaces. To make matters worse, 68% of millennials have left their job for mental health reasons. Because of that reality, 91% of individuals believe companies should support their employees’ well-being. Thankfully, ERGs can foster safe conversations to help organizations understand the problems employees face in and out of work. In doing so, ERGs can compile these insights and present them to management. By amplifying the voices of underrepresented employees, executives can identify stressors and implement relevant policy changes. These changes can include company-wide mental health days, counseling programs, and four-day work weeks.
When mental health benefits are created, it can boost employee retention. In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey found that 26% of workers who felt supported had higher levels of job satisfaction. Not only that, intentions to stay at their company rose.
Due to stringent safety protocols in recent years, many businesses have shifted to remote arrangements. But without a physical workspace, employees have grappled with an increased sense of isolation and exclusion.
In the same Harvard Business Review survey, 41% of participants found policies regarding remote work insufficient. This is because a culture of connection and responsiveness was absent. Fortunately, ERGs can help alleviate this issue. This is evident in the case of telemedicine software company Wheel, where it’s particularly important to have employees touch base with each other. Since their workers primarily operate on a virtual care system, client interactions are conducted through asynchronous chat messages or online appointments. As such, regular check-ins and direct reports between staff are crucial to streamlining information. Of course, consistent communication is also necessary to combat feelings of isolation. Because ERGs focus on building employee connections, they can suggest solutions to counteract that sense of alienation. For one, weekly or monthly in-person events can be organized. Virtual game nights can also go a long way in boosting employee morale. These moments allow professionals to feel connected to their team despite working independently.
Most ERGs promote mentorship. This is because programs that enhance an individual’s skill set can lead to professional growth and satisfaction. Interestingly, this is the case for chemical corporation Dow, which contains ten different ERGs totaling 18,500 employees.
Two ERGs, RISE and PRIME, are committed to nurturing their employees' careers' early and late stages. RISE was first introduced in their Texas operations but is now being implemented across other sites in North America. Here, within the first six months at Dow, a new worker is partnered with a more experienced employee. This allows for a smoother onboarding process and offers assistance for those who haven’t adjusted to their roles. Moving on to PRIME, this group mainly comprises workers who are 50 years and older. As senior employees, they’re given resources to not only expand their knowledge but also to become responsible for guiding newer talent.
Beyond those key mentorship programs, Dow has also created a safe space that makes learning conducive for their employees with disabilities. With portable devices and wristbands with flashing lights and vibrating features, hearing-impaired workers are guaranteed a secure environment wherein they can focus on improving their skills. And these changes were all initiatives of the ERGs.
Revolutionizing work life isn't always expensive and exhaustive. As ERGs show, they can just be as simple as sitting around a table and having constructive discussions.
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