Employee resource groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-driven networks that empower team members, foster diversity and inclusion, spark connectivity and creativity, and develop a support system around a particular interest that aligns with an organization’s purpose and values.
While ERG programs are becoming more and more popular, there is still some work to be done in improving overall involvement. Currently, only 8.5% of workers in the nation are members of ERGs or attend ERG events regularly. What could encourage execs to promote employee involvement in their ERG programs?
I’m one of the leaders of the African Ancestry Group at STANLEY Security—one of many ERGs championed at our business, which include Pride & Allies, Veterans Network, Women’s Network, and Abilities Network. During my 31 years of business experience, I have come to find that ERGs not only offer people like myself the ability to find a like-minded group within the business or champion causes they care about but also offer three main benefits to the business itself.
These benefits include a heightened culture, improved business performance, and a better connection with customers. Let’s take a more in-depth look at how ERGs impact each area.
A genuinely positive company culture allows employees to feel valued, comfortable, and heard. Luckily, ERGs help accomplish all three of these standards. When new employees start with an organization, they want to feel comfortable in the office and with other coworkers. Studies have shown that the first 60 to 90 days of employment are particularly challenging for new employees, especially those of traditionally unrepresented groups. ERGs work to combat this by helping employees feel valued and accepted during the initial onboarding process.
ERGs are helpful for not only new employees but also the existing workforce. For example, when employees feel continuously valued and part of larger initiatives within an organization, they are more likely to stay with a company long term. With turnover costing an average of $15,000 per employee, executives should consider options to foster this sense of belonging among their employees.
Improved Business Performance
Businesses are always looking for ways to improve their overall performance, enhance productivity, and build positive outcomes. However, many leadership teams fail to explore unique options to make it happen. While ERGs can help improve employee morale, which has proven to increase productivity dramatically, this is not the only benefit. Programs such as ERGs also help talent and leadership development.
Talent development training cost organizations $87.6 billion in 2018 alone. Where do ERGs come into play? Often, newer employees struggle in their role due to unidentified knowledge gaps. ERGs and other networking groups, especially those dedicated to young professionals, help to identify these gaps early through more individual attention such as small group work and open forums for young employees to express concerns, which prevents issues from getting out of hand. In turn, organizations spend less time training employees and simultaneously boost overall morale and image.
Better Connection With Customers
In a recent survey evaluating ERGs, more than 70% of employers claim to rely on ERGs to build a workforce that reflects the demographics of their customer base. Within any industry—including the security industry—people come from various backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles, and organizations must keep that in mind throughout all business operations. ERGs help accomplish this by creating an environment where customers feel more comfortable through relatable partners.
Improving company culture and employee morale will continue to be a crucial initiative in the business world, but adding strategic value will always be a top priority. Luckily, the implementation of ERGs can offer both. At STANLEY Security, we have found that ERGs promote employee wellness but also drive unique value for the business.
Tony Dozier is the Director of Business Development at STANLEY Security.