How to Start an Employee Resource Group

how to start an employee resource group

If you’re considering starting an employee resource group, you’re a part of the kind of organization that values diversity and wants to make the workplace better for its employees. Making your team members feel included, validated, and cared for are priorities for you. You’re off to a great start, and we’re here to help. Read on for a guide to starting an employee resource group at your company!


First Things First: What is an Employee Resource Group?


A company employee resource group is a program that is funded by the company, but led by the employees themselves. Employee resource groups exist to support a positive culture within a workplace and make sure employees feel that they belong. They’re also a great way to confirm that employee concerns are being heard and handled.


While some larger companies have multiple employee resource groups, focused, for example, on female employees, employees who are parents or caregivers, employees who are veterans, etc., it’s totally fine for a smaller firm to have one larger, overarching employee resource group for all team members to participate in.


How to get an Employee Resource Group Off the Ground: A Step-by-Step Process


1. Get Employees Involved


Your employees themselves are the best resource for finding out what your company needs in the culture department. From a human resources perspective, you may already know what some of the top concerns are, but if you ask for input, you may be surprised!


Consider sending a survey around asking employees to identify items or areas that could be improved. Have employees rank items by level of importance so you can find out what changes would be most impactful. At the end of the survey, you can even ask employees whether they’d be interested in taking up a leadership role in a future employee resource group.


2. Gain Support from Leadership


Employers know that a great workplace community has ripple effects throughout the office, but is your leadership aware that companies who purposely foster diversity and inclusion at work perform better financially?  According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. On top of that, companies committed to diversity and inclusion “win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”


Once you have the support of your company’s leadership on your side, don’t be afraid to ask for funding. As with all workplace initiatives, a successful employee resource group will require time and effort from employees as well as financial resources. Funds can be used to sponsor company outings, provide emergency resources for struggling employees, or offer small bonuses to employees who volunteer to organize the group.


3. Outline Your Action-Plan


After determining what employees would like to see, and how much support from leadership you have to work with, you’re in a great position to work with a small group of employees to develop some action items. One way to keep your goals top of mind is to create a mission statement from the key insights you took away from your first round of surveys. For example, if employees overwhelmingly expressed a desire for a more flexible or efficient schedule, include a phrase like “supporting work-life balance solutions” in your mission statement.


Keep in mind that it’s okay to start with some friendlier team-building activities, like a welcome lunch. For your group’s first activity, you might explain the intended purposes of the resource group and allow interested members to socialize and get to know one another. As the year progresses, you can move into more impactful activities, like carpooling organization, wellness programs, volunteering days, or the formation of work-life balance support circles. 


4. Keep the Fire Burning!


The best way to keep up support for your employee resource group is to figure out exactly how it’s helping and promote it continuously! You can measure the success of your group through monthly or quarterly employee satisfaction surveys. Find out if employees who participate in the group see their workplace contentment and work-life balance improving over time. Continue to adapt to new requests and concerns as they emerge. In the end, you’ll have created a wonderful tool for recruitment and retention of talented team members, and your company will be better for it.


Need Help Designing and Implementing a Plan?


From time to time, we can all use a little help from the experts. That’s where Benely comes in. As experts in employee benefits and compliance, Benely knows that wellness and comprehensive employee programs can positively affect both productivity and an employer’s bottom line. Benely can help revamp your company culture simply, seamlessly, and happily. Contact Benely or request a free demo today.