When businesses face cultural issues or human resources challenges, a great place to start making changes is by focusing on those living it day to day. One method to gather information, open up communication, and make small internal changes is through the use of an employee resource group. These groups can vary based on the needs of the company and the employees, but a popular choice—thanks to flexible work—is a remote work employee resource group. 

There’s much to be learned from the few large companies that lead the way with remote employee resources groups (remote ERGs). Dell (Connexus ERG), Clorox (Orbit ERG) and Anthem (W@VE: Working @ Anthem in a Virtual Environment) have all designed home-grown ERGs for their remote and distributed workforces. Clorox shared information about their remote ERG approach for an article on Remote.co

Here’s why you need a remote work employee resource group:

Employee resource groups can be beneficial not only for the employees but for the business as well. Their insights, ideas, creativity, and suggestions can help to create a better environment for everyone within, and outside, the organization. Here are a few reasons why a remote work employee resource group is so important:

  • These are employee-led groups and are voluntary, providing staffers with a stake in the company’s success.
  • The groups are designed to deliver a better environment for personal and professional growth.
  • Diversity and inclusion are often results of employee resource groups, and therefore help employees feel more invested.
  • Employee resource groups directly affect company culture for the better, and help to establish equality between staffers, teams, and organizational levels.
  • The groups work to address common concerns or issues while growing a caring and respectful working community.
  • For remote work, they focus on common challenges and provide solutions to create a better experience.
  • They contribute to creating a more inclusive atmosphere that will drive recruiting and retention opportunities.
  • Employee resource groups are an excellent foundation to find and develop best practices for the organization.
  • The groups connect individuals and help to create a level of trust and friendship.
  • Employees see the groups as an investment made by the company to create a better environment and atmosphere for remote work and connection.

Here are nine tips for creating remote work employee resource groups:

Creating and utilizing employee resource groups are important for companies and their employees. However, it’s important to get things right. Here are a few things to consider when creating a remote work employee resource group:

  1. Create the resource group based on a specific need of the company or the workforce.
  2. The group needs to be inclusive and engage people of all demographics. Make sure the group complies with anti-discrimination policies and laws.
  3. Have clear expectations as to the group’s role, as well as the potential impacts they can or will have on the organization. Share these with the group.
  4. Work with the group to create a mission statement and goals it hopes to achieve.
  5. The group should be voluntary, as you want people to be interested in the cause. Don’t force participation; this could cause animosity rather than success.
  6. Set benchmarks to monitor the success of the group.
  7. Keep the atmosphere open and inclusive to build better relationships and obtain more favorable results.
  8. The group forum must be committed to educating each other and providing a space for understanding.
  9. Set up a method to include the group in corporate governance, accountability, and compliance.

Using a remote work employee resource group can significantly increase the success of your remote workers while improving hiring practices and retaining talent. Because these groups are comprised of a diverse array of staffers, their ability to bring multiple perspectives and ideas to the table is a treasure trove to companies looking to improve their standing—not only internally, but externally as well. But before creating a group, make sure your company is ready to support it. Have executive support, provide the necessary policies and guidelines, and make sure you are abiding by any applicable laws. Once the foundation for your resource group is set, you’ll see issues addressed in creative and meaningful ways.