February 15, 2022

Here’s why your ERG isn’t successful (and tips on overcoming common challenges)

A successful Employee Resource Group (ERG) has the power to transform performance, engagement, and company culture at any organization. These collaborative, employee-led groups solve company problems by helping: 

  • Increase diversity.
  • Lower employee turnover rates.
  • Improve employee engagement.
  • Create a career planning strategy to promote employee advancement.
  • Build a sense of belonging in the workplace.

ERGs can have a great impact on company success, but they need support, structure, and training in order to reach their full potential. Developing and sustaining these groups require time and commitment, so we’ve listed five common reasons ERGs fail, along with actionable tips on how to combat these challenges. 

1. You haven’t identified a purpose or developed a mission statement.

As an ERG leader, think about why you want to develop this ERG, or how you can improve the group to make it more impactful for members. Do you want to provide underrepresented groups with a safe space to share their experiences? Do you want to make your work environment more inclusive by improving accessibility? Do you want to create more learning and development opportunities to help employees get promoted? If you don’t know what your purpose is, talk to other employees and find out what they think is missing in the organization.

Next, take some time to create a mission statement. This is something you can work on alone, or collaborate with other team members. Your mission statement should include who the ERG is serving, and how the ERG will transform the organization.

2. You haven’t defined clear roles or set expectations.

As you develop the foundation of your ERG, you’ll need to set expectations with team members and leadership. During the initial stages, think about:

  • How often you will meet and the objective of those meetings.
  • Preferred channels of communication.
  • Who you will speak to on the leadership team if you have any questions or concerns.
  • A list of everyone’s roles and responsibilities and how you will assign due dates.

If you get stuck, make a list of how you will work towards your purpose and the steps you’ll take to hold everyone accountable for completing tasks on time.
3. You haven’t set measurable goals.

Lean on current employees to help you establish your goals for the organization. Here are just a few questions you can ask employees:

  • Do you feel excited coming to work every day?
  • Do you feel like you can show up to work every day as your true self?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking to your manager or supervisor about your experiences at the company?
  • How can the company better support your physical and mental wellbeing?

The answers to these questions will give you an idea of which area you should focus on, such as employee engagement, learning and development, improving mental health, etc. 

Once you set your goals, you’ll need to identify how you will measure them. For example, you can ask employees to rate their overall experience at the workplace 1-10 before joining your ERG, and then ask them to rate their overall experience 3, 6, and 12 months in.

4. You don’t have a budget or support from leadership.

Leadership buy-in is essential for developing and sustaining a successful ERG. As a leader, you must establish clear lines of communication with your leadership team so they understand the impact the ERG has on company success, and how the company can better support you and the group. 

To get leadership buy-in, you’ll need to:

  • Survey employees on the changes they’d like to see take place in the organization and present those results to the leadership team. 
  • Create a clear budget with estimated costs of labor, services, and additional help.
  • A detailed plan highlighting how you will work towards accomplishing your goals and the metrics you will use to track success.

Be prepared for this conversation to take place over multiple meetings. You’ll have to stay persistent and solutions-focused.

5. You haven’t invested in consistent training and education.

The best ERG leaders stay up to date on the latest workplace trends and understand how those changes will impact employees. An ERG has the opportunity to help members grow, set career goals, and define what success looks like at your organization. Here are a few ways you can invest in learning and development:

  • Hire career coaches to help members map out their career plans at your organization.
  • Bring in guest speakers to share tips on time management, self-advocacy, mental health, and more. 
  • Provide members with multimedia content that educates them on workplace trends. 
  • Consult with an agency like Perfeqta to help you turn your group into a best-in-class ERG with an established council, programs, events, and more.  

Your ERG has the potential to change employees’ experiences at your workplace, while also helping company leaders recruit, retain, and advance amazing, diverse talent. Establishing the foundation for a successful ERG, however, can be challenging for those who are working alone or are in the beginning stages of forming the group. 

If you’re looking to build an ERG that champions DEI and empowers talent at your organization, download our free ERG resource guide Building the Foundation of a Best-In-Class ERG, and stay tuned for the launch of Perfeqta’s ERG Toolkit!

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