Tips For Creating Effective Employee Resource Groups

tips for creating effective employee resource groups

If you’re starting or revamping an employee resource group at your organization, you’re a part of a company that values diversity and wants to make the workplace better for its employees. More than ever before, fantastic company culture is a top priority for employees in their decision to join or stay with an organization. Read on for tips on creating effective employee resource groups from Benely’s human resources and employee wellness experts!


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. For more information and a step-by-step process for starting an employee resource group, check out our article on the topic.


Consider the Types of Employee Resource Groups that will be Impactful


It’s definitely possible to create an employee resource group for every delineation you can imagine at your company. However, there are drawbacks to doing so. Not only are you likely to go out of your budget in funding more employee resource groups than you can sustain, but you also may accidentally make some employees feel excluded if the parameters of your employee resource groups are too tightly defined. When it comes to choosing which employee resource groups to focus on, remember that the employees themselves will run these groups. Then, it may be best to poll your employees to see what they’d like to have. The results may surprise you!


It never hurts to offer some suggestions, though. Your employee resource group suggestions should be individually tailored to your organization and its unique workforce. You may consider, however, the following ideas:


  • a group for working parents;
  • a mentorship support group (perhaps that matches up mentors and mentees);
  • a mental health advocacy group;
  • a group for employees of color;
  • a group for LGBTQ+ employees;
  • or even a group for those with passions in charity or volunteer work.


The key is to identify groups within your office that you’ve noticed could use some support or community, or who may have shared interests and experiences.


Define a Realistic Budget


Employee resource groups are funded by the organization itself. This is important to remember because one quick way to have your employee resource group initiative backfire is to put employee members in a position to have to use their own disposable income to fund them. This will make your employees feel unappreciated and even marginalized, which is the complete opposite of the goal of helping to create an employee resource group.


Need help securing adequate funding from your organization’s leadership? Let them know about the impressive return on investment your company is likely to see on its employee resource group initiative. Did you know 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, leading to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”


Allocate Resources Uniformly and Consistently


It’s critical to be careful not to overpromise and underdeliver in this space. Once you’ve obtained a firm commitment from leadership regarding the funding available for all employee resource groups, whether quarterly or annually, consider how you’ll divide it amongst groups. Will you give each group a flatly equal amount, or will you allocate funds based on membership numbers? Make sure you’re consistent with your funding policy between groups to avoid arbitrarily funding one group more heavily than another. You can also memorialize this decision in an employee resource group policy memorandum or handbook so that all groups can access the information.


Monitor Progress from the Outset, and Offer Continuous Support


Allow group leaders to do what they think is best with the funds, but feel free to set parameters and give guidance. Some examples of common ways employee resource groups spend their funds include group outings, such as trips and group activities, dining out as a group, and catering in.


Without taking control or centering influences outside of the group, have a representative from your firm’s human resources department check in periodically to make sure all is well. Ask the group how it’s functioning, whether it’s run into any conflict, and what it could use in terms of support from the organization as a whole. Take note of what’s working well, what the group has enjoyed doing together, and ask if you can share the information as a resource for other employee groups or even firm-wide to attract further support!


Of course, you should practice from the beginning of promoting and celebrating your employee resource group firm-wide. Not only will your members feel supported, but the exposure can help attract new membership and engagement. When you’re creating your employee resource group initiative, outline how you’ll measure their success. Will you send surveys to members requesting feedback on their workplace contentment and work-life balance? Any tangible metric of success you can show to leadership will help you keep the fire burning for your groups long-term!


Need Help Designing and Implementing Your Organization’s Employee Resource Groups?


We can all use a little help from the experts from time to time. That’s where Benely comes in. As experts in employee benefits, wellness, 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.