According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time employee spends more than 8.5 hours at work every day. That amounts to about 90,000 hours over a lifetime. In many ways, our jobs are imperative to our lives. Not only do they provide us with the monetary resources we need to survive, but they influence everything from our identity to our mood and sense of self-worth.
For all of these reasons, many companies are investing in employee resource groups (ERGs). Bentley University reports that about 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have ERGs, and these groups or clubs can range in size from a handful of employees to hundreds or even thousands of workers in multiple geographic locations.
ERGs can be a catalyst for bringing together specific groups of like-minded people, or focus on a hobby or personal interest. At GroundTruth, for example, our employee resource groups include Financial Investment and New Parents, while our clubs range from Poker Club and Video Game Club.
Groups like these are all about making connections — and in the workplace that’s crucial. Why? Connected employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees are more likely to be productive and bring energy and motivation to your company. ERGs can:
- Foster a connected and engaged workforce
- Promote diversity and inclusion with your company culture
- Give employees a sense of belonging
- Create connections beyond the work itself
Structuring ERGs for Success
While there are many ways to structure an employee resource group or internal club, we’ve found that following some basic ground rules can increase the odds of success. For starters, ERGs should be completely voluntary, and employees should feel no pressure to join. It’s also preferable for employees to start new groups themselves rather than having your company set them up, as this ensures they reflect employees’ interests and needs rather than being dictated by leadership or HR.
All employee resource group and clubs should have a designated leader, along with defined goals and a cadence for meeting up. They should be celebrated and promoted at company meetings to encourage other employees to get involved in similar ways. We’ve also found it’s crucial that managers and leaders support employee participation, as this lends credibility and value to the groups themselves.
The GroundTruth Approach
For a company like ours, which endeavors to foster a community environment for employees to connect and collaborate both personally and professionally, ERGs make perfect sense. We want our employees to know colleagues outside of their direct teams, and we don’t want them to feel chained to their desks or unable to socialize and decompress.
At the beginning of this year, GroundTruth’s leadership team made a decision to better support employees who want to create their own internal clubs and ERGs. Here’s a small sample of what we’ve done so far.
In 2018, several female employees came together to create an employee resource group for women at GroundTruth. Their goal? To provide networking and mentorship opportunities both internally and externally, educational and professional development, and community to all employees — not just women — within the company.
The initiative kicked off with a panel discussion called Becoming a Powerhouse, hosted at our One World Trade Center headquarters. The group has also hosted Imposter Syndrome training using improv techniques and a Girl Geek Dinner at our Mountain View, CA office, as well as sponsored the She Runs It Awards.
“Women@GroundTruth began from a need to empower our female colleagues to embrace their power, purpose, and value,” explains Courtney Packard, GroundTruth’s director of national sales. “Through this community, we strive to impact positive change here at GroundTruth and beyond.”
Each month, GroundTruth hosts a wine club where employees can taste wines from different regions. The group began with wines from Bordeaux before moving on to Tuscany.
This group brings people together who wouldn’t typically interact. The connections made in this employee club and others can carry over into the day-to-day work life, which can improve collaboration and teamwork. What’s more, clubs like our Wine Club provide employees with opportunities to take a turn at the helm by planning and organizing events, even if that’s not a part of their day jobs.
Operating in a startup environment as we do, we often work fast and pivot to new projects quickly. Sometimes that means we’re so focused on the product that we forget to take a moment to collaborate with one another. When a workforce is connected, not only is a company more valuable, but its employees are more successful as individuals.
Interested in learning more? Read about what it’s like to work at GroundTruth and explore current opportunities here.