Ensuring Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are successful in any organization requires the right resources and a strategic action plan. Although having Employee Networks is almost a must-have these days, there are some challenges that are bound to surface if their management is not structured from the get go or if they are not treated as a vital component of the organization’s DEI initiatives.
ERGs tend to receive irregular support in terms of resources as well as budgets. ERGs in some key locations have more support and visibility than others. When ERG management is treated like an afterthought, ERGs struggle to maintain engagement levels and fail to provide long-term value.
This challenge can be overcome by planning and strategizing for ERG growth and including it in the overall business plan. Putting together a dedicated core team that oversees the management of all ERGs and enabling them with the best tools for ERG management can ensure event management, budget allocations and other ERG maintenance activities run smoothly and benefit the business.
Loss of momentum
Another common problem that plagues ERGs is the loss of momentum. Over time, ERG leaders and members get sidetracked because of their regular work. New membership numbers dwindle and events and activities become few and far in between.
Incorporating ERG specific deliverables in the goal setting exercise of ERG managers will help them devote time and energy to ERG management. Regular communication from the leadership team about the importance of ERGs and the value they bring to the organization will nudge managers to not only support but also encourage their team members in participating in ERG-led activities.
Who gets to be a member of which ERG is a pertinent question which is often overlooked while creating ERG membership policies. The very nature of an ERG can alienate some other groups of employees and make them feel excluded. This can create unnecessary friction and a siloed atmosphere in the workplace.
ERGs should adopt an open-to-all membership policy. ERGs managers should assign roles and permissions to manage different types of members. For example, men who support women in workplaces should be permitted to be part of Women’s ERGs as allies. Their visibility and access to events and activities should be customized which is made possible by ERG software.
Organizations struggle to deduce whether their ERG-specific initiatives are having the desired outcome on the culture and DNA of the company. They are unable to demonstrate the positive business impact of ERGs on employee retention and satisfaction as well as in the innovation of products and processes.
The way to resolve this problem is by defining clear metrics to gauge ERG success from the start. An ERG policy and goals document should be created to record the expectations from setting up the ERG and should be assessed at the end of the year. Apart from membership numbers, employee sentiment should be evaluated through regular and meaningful surveys. Explicitly assigning business objectives to ERGs will help in tracking and also boost employee morale in working towards company success.
If the aforementioned challenges are not recognized and mitigated in time, Employee Resource Groups can disintegrate and all the efforts put into sustaining them would be in vain. It is important to periodically reassess ERGs and their management and incorporate new strategies to ensure they keep growing and serving the DEI goals of the organization.