Learning & Development

The Crucial Role of ERGs in Shaping Remote Work Culture

The foundation of culture can be deeply rooted in the health and vitality of your Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). In our own company, we have experienced that these groups are not just extracurricular activities but essential components of an organization, fostering trust through meaningful opportunities of learning and connection. ERGs are the heartbeat of culture and vital to creating a sense of community, particularly in companies that have or are adopting a remote-first mindset. Beyond connection, ERGs are instrumental in driving innovation in how you operate, challenging you to think differently and allowing each employee to embrace diverse perspectives.

First things First: Set Up ERGs to Succeed

In an era where organizations grapple with talent acquisition and retention, remote-first is an essential strategy. This structure can also significantly impact the fostering of an inclusive and flexible work environment. With an understanding of diverse populations of employees and their needs, the flexibility offered by remote work empowers those who may not thrive in a traditional office setting. It empowers them to excel in their profession while managing their personal wellness and home responsibilities more effectively.

ERGs can be a pillar for remote work. They can foster community and ensure that opportunities to learn or connect are available to everyone regardless of location or schedule. However, ERGs also face unique challenges in a remote setting, such as ensuring engagement and active participation across different time zones and establishing trust and meaningful connections. It can also be challenging for global companies to ensure ERGs resonate across diverse cultural contexts.

One way to mitigate challenges and amplify the success of ERGs is to have regular check-ins. Executive sponsors should not limit these check-ins to an administrative meeting but a more interactive, strategic session. The insights from your ERGs can contribute to company-wide initiatives. For example, ERGs can help you identify creative solutions for engaging your workforce, such as digital platforms, virtual events, and flexible programming to accommodate diverse schedules.

Acknowledge and Invest in ERGs with Intention

Success also requires companies to invest in ERGs and ERG leaders intentionally.

For example:

·  Acknowledge the passion and hard work of your ERG leaders. If your company has allotted a set number of volunteer hours as a benefit, you can count ERG within those hours. Another option is to supplement their pay for their ERG work.

·  Develop their leadership skills. Serving as an ERG leader can be beneficial to career advancement. Invest in building their skill sets and provide opportunities for ERG leaders to connect with executive team members.

·  Make it a top-down priority. ERGs should not exist within a silo. Assign executive sponsors to each ERG and ensure they are actively involved. The executive sponsor can ensure that ERG leaders have a voice at the table. Allowing ERG leaders to be seen and heard by all employees is also essential.

It is also crucial that ERGs directly reflect your company’s mission, vision, and values. This means that your ERG strategies are aligned with your mission, vision, and values, and every ERG group member, leader, or event participant embodies those values.

Measuring the Success of ERGs

Finally, success requires measurement. You will want to incorporate qualitative and quantitative metrics to track your ERG programs against your goals. For example, post-event surveys or company engagement surveys can provide qualitative feedback. This information can help you measure if you deliver meaningful content to your employees. Quantitative metrics include things such as the number of events and number of attendees. Combined, you gain insights that will show how to deploy resources and invest in the activities that matter most.

Navigating the inherent challenges of a remote work environment, ERGs emerge as vital connectors, organically bridging the divide between virtual teams across the organization. They serve as dynamic communities for employees to forge connections beyond the confines of their immediate teams, extending their networks across global borders. This function of ERGs is particularly crucial in a remote setting, where the lack of physical presence can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation.

One of the most impactful examples of how our ERGs foster these connections is through creative event formats like the ”Women of Salsify” Speed Networking event. Such events are designed not just for engagement but to catalyze meaningful introductions between employees who, under regular circumstances, might have yet to have the opportunity to meet. Feedback from participants is always overwhelmingly positive, underscoring the value of these interactions and employees have shared stories of forming new professional relationships, gaining insights into different areas of our business, and even developing friendships that extend beyond work.

Today, it is not enough to support ERGs but to view them as crucial to the DNA of your organization. These groups can help you build a more inclusive, connected, and innovative workplace.

Colleen Habeski joined Salsify as Chief People Officer with many years of experience in building, scaling and transforming people and talent functions.

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