An employee resource group (ERG)—also known as an affinity group or business network group—is an employee-managed support group that serves a specific faction of employees. Common ERGs include those specifically for employees of a certain ethnicity, gender, or other group with shared characteristics. For employers who have a group of remote workers or a completely distributed team, they may want to consider creating an ERG for their remote workers.
Follow these 11 tips for creating a remote work employee resource group:
1. Before creating a resource group for remote workers, ensure that you have executive support and that the company will provide the necessary policies and guidelines to build an ERG.
Establish how the group will be a part of corporate governance, compliance, and accountability.
2. Create the resource group based on a specific need of the company or the workforce by first establishing a mission statement for the group.
In this case, establish an ERG for remote workers by creating a statement that sets down the initial goals for the group as well as setting specific goals for the following:
- Define the desired number of participants in the group.
- Determine how engagement will be fostered among the defined group. Since this is a remote worker group, determine how the group will “gather,” including timing, best day of the week, and format. Consider tools like Zoom meetings or Sococo to create a remote gathering space.
- Develop a charter that includes the ERG’s name, the group’s mission, eligibility requirements, and how the group is intended to function. Both the group’s mission and charter should align with the company’s mission.
3. Identify leaders for the group and establish a leadership committee.
The committee needs to ensure that the group is inclusive and will engage remote employees of all demographics. Ensure that the group follows applicable laws or bylaws and anti-discrimination policies.
4. Establish a mentoring program that will facilitate communication between new member employees and long-term member employees.
This relationship should not only help new ERG members become active participants, but could foster a relationship for employee growth.
5. Create transparency for the group by developing a webpage for the new ERG serving remote employees where new members can choose to join or “opt-in.”
Post the group’s mission statement and charter here for members to download. Also, add all updates to this page to include: the meeting schedule, leadership committee member names and contact information, policies, and other pertinent information about the remote ERG.
6. Communicate the expectations as to the group’s role as well as the potential impact those expectations can or will have on the organization.
Share this information with the group and post the details to the webpage.
7. Ensure that the group has voluntary participation, as you want those involved to be interested in and committed to the cause.
Requiring participation can unintentionally create alienation rather than success.
8. Monitor the ERG’s success by setting benchmarks.
Based on the mission statement, set down markers for achievement. Consider the following:
- Do you want to reach a specified number of members by a certain date?
- How will you serve new, existing, and long-term members of the ERG?
- What will engagement look like one or more years from launch?
9. Allow members to contact the leaders using a “blind” source.
Members should be able to offer insights and constructive criticism without fear of retribution. Create an inclusive and open atmosphere by offering an option to submit ideas through the webpage that doesn’t identify the ERG member, which will foster an environment where all voices will be heard.
10. Consider the educational role of the ERG.
The ERG should be committed to providing a space for understanding and opportunities for educating each other.
11. Consider how your ERG for remote workers can interact with other company ERGs.
This will determine how the ERGs can be mutually beneficial for all members and foster goodwill throughout the company.
The purpose of a remote worker ERG is to readily increase the success of your remote workers while streamlining hiring practices and retaining talented employees. Because these groups are comprised of a diverse group of employees, their ability to lend a voice to multiple perspectives can be invaluable to companies looking to improve their standing—not only internally but externally as well. Once the proper foundation for your ERG is established, you’ll likely find that issues will be addressed in more meaningful and creative ways.
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