ERGs are more than grassroots initiatives
Monday October 4, 2021, By Janani Sampath
Employee resource groups (ERGs), a network and employee-led initiative in organizations, have an extensive role covering multiple aspects of a business.
Primarily, ERGs are grassroots-level initiatives led from the bottom to the top involving groups of underrepresented intersectionality. The groups bring together people and foster an inclusive and diverse workplace. However, when aligned with the business goals and mission of the organization, they have multiple benefits and are more than grassroots initiatives.
For companies, hiring new talent is never a simple task. ERGs can be pressed into action for the purpose, as finding the best fit that aligns with the company culture is simpler. It has also been proven that employees hired through ERGs referrals can be on-boarded faster and are better engaged. Another study shows that millennials are more likely to join a company that has active ERGs.
Mentorship and development
Growing and learning amid colleagues who support with the required guidance can be the best way to progress in a career. ERGs enable support from across departments for an individual looking for mentorship. ERGs make the exchange of ideas between higher-ups and subordinates seamless. The interactions are rooted in belongingness and shared identities that make learning easy and more organic. Such interactions break the barrier of hierarchy and make employees transparent and vocal about their problems and challenges.
Though ERGs revolve around identities, they serve as a perfect platform for sharing ideas and strategic pitches. Studies have shown that diverse groups have the advantage of a goldmine of experiences, ideas, and thoughts. ERGs are the default research and development space that can propel innovation through critical conversations.
As pointed out earlier, millennials are inclined to join companies with active and vibrant ERGs. Needless to say that ERGs provide the group a sense of purpose and option by offering on-the-job training, providing them opportunities to grow within the organization. When their growth needs are met within the company, it directly translates into higher rates of retention. Take the case of AT&T, where leaders have attributed the 85 percent retention rate of its black employees to its African-American employee resource group known as Community NETwork.
With most organizations going remote in their operations and some choosing hybrid work models of employees working from anywhere and office, ERGs can link them all together as a community. ERGs can help employees forge meaningful communication and interaction regularly. In remote work, the ERGs can do their best to empower workers with information and give them a break from isolation.
A robust ERG not just benefits employees but also the company, on the whole, serving as a community working towards a shared purpose.
- With close to 15 years of experience in journalism across beats in multiple mediums, Janani Sampath is senior content writer and assistant editor, Diversity Digest.