What are Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)? Ultimate Guide

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Employee Resource Groups
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We all understand that building an inclusive workplace is important for employees as well as the productivity of the company. Employee resource groups are voluntary groups of employees who come together for a common cause. It may not be apparent at a glance but ERGs play a significant role in employee engagement.


The employee resource groups also have a direct impact on the employer brand and attracting top talent for the organization.


In this blog, we will be discussing ERGs in detail and understand why every firm needs to support employee resource groups at the workplace.


What are the Employee Resource Groups?

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are the group of employees in an organization who come together voluntarily to form an alliance. These people often have some common interest and intended to support each other in the achievement of their professional as well as personal growth.


What Makes Employee Resource Groups Essential?

The primary purpose of the employee resource groups is to create an inclusive workplace for all employees and make them feel accepted and supported in the company. The ERG members are usually created for employees who are underrepresented. The ERGs serve the purpose of communicating their needs and issues to the management.


That makes everyone feel safe in the diverse workplace. The groups strengthen the relationships between employees resulting in better engagement. It gives people a sense of belonging and helps to build a more inclusive workplace and company culture.


Employee resource groups are formally established by the employer but require the active participation of the group members to be a successful initiative. The ERG members come together to share their experiences and struggles that help people to voice workplace issues so that the company takes action and finds solutions.


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What’s the Difference between ERGs and Affinity Groups?


Affinity groups Employee resource groups (ERGs)

Affinity groups are informal groups of employees that are primarily focused on providing networking opportunities to the group members.


These groups may not be recognized by the company leadership as they are not supported by HR and are not part of the formal structure.


Employee resource groups are employee groups that are formally established by the management and are part of the organizational structure.


These groups are set to give a sense of belonging and provide professional development opportunities, support, and a fair voice to underrepresented for professional development along with networking opportunities.


Types of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are always based on some common ground between the employees. The employee resource groups can be formed for any common purpose or interest to ensure that there are no alienated workers just because they are underrepresented in the organization. Let’s discuss some of the most common types of ERG groups.


➔ Diversity Inclusion ERGs

These are the most common type of employee resource groups (ERGs). These groups are intended to provide representation to diverse employees such as those who have different nationalities, disability, ethnicity, gender, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, and much more.


Diversity and inclusion groups help to build inclusive company culture by welcoming the work environment to diverse employees. ERG leaders and group members provide them with a sense of belonging and make them feel supported by the firm to voice their issues and opinions.


➔ Community Service ERGs

The community service employee resource groups provide employees the opportunity to volunteer and give back to society in various ways. They organize multiple events where group members can help local communities with their skills and efforts.


Community service aligns its initiatives with the company values and can be a significant part of the company’s CSR activities. In addition to that these ERGs are a huge contributor to employer branding.


➔ Health and Well-being ERGs

The employee resource groups (ERGs) that are concerned about the health and well-being of employees are in need of time now. These groups are active in taking both physical and mental health initiatives towards creating a workplace that supports it. They contribute hugely towards building a healthy work-life balance for group members which is also essential for their career development.


➔ Professional Development ERGs

The employee resource groups that are intended for the development of professional skills are another common type of group. The ERGs are beneficial to both employees and the employer. It helps to nurture emerging talent and leadership skills through various mentorship and skill development workshops. That way it also helps members in career development or career advancement.


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Benefits of Employee Resource Groups

The key benefits of employee resource groups (ERGs) are nurturing a diverse workforce, being supportive of underrepresented groups, and providing networking opportunities to employees.


There are reasons why organizations invest in employee resource groups (ERGs) and all companies should do the same.


➔ Employee Engagement

There is no doubt that the employee resource group is very effective when it comes to employee satisfaction and employee engagement in the workplace. Employee groups such as affinity groups, and business resource groups make company culture more engaging. These resource groups help employees to network as well as develop personal bonds which is a major factor in the creation of a positive work environment.


➔ Employee Retention

Employee resource groups, affinity groups, or business resource groups can immensely help in employee retention efforts by the company. ERG programs with organizational support for marginalized groups, such as people with various sexual orientation makes the employee feel safe. Employee resource groups make employees aware that they have access to career advancement opportunities as the company is supporting diversity so they feel supported in their personal and professional life.


That is why firms with multiple employee resource groups (ERGs) for various marginalized groups or religious affiliation do experience better retention as compared to the companies that doesn’t. As employees are likely to stay in the organization longer for available opportunities.


➔ Strategy

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be significant contributors to strategy development for the company. May it is the strategy for an inclusive work environment or diverse workforce planning you will always get crucial insights from ERG leaders. These inputs can also help you to provide the right financial support to create an inclusive environment and save a lot of costs that might get wasted elsewhere.


As employees eventually extend networks beyond the ERGs, they are also great tools to know about the on ground day to day issues that your employees face at the workplace.


➔ Mentorship Programs

An employee resource group is always an employee-led group and work for people with common interest or ones who are often marginalized such as people with different sexual orientation. Employee resource groups often witness the right professional development effort through voluntary mentorship programs.


A company benefits if they provide financial support to the employees and use ERGs to strengthen their companywide mentorship program.


➔ Employer Branding

Employee resource groups are not just business network groups, they are great contributors when it comes to improving employer branding and talent acquisition. If ERGs at your company are supporting employees with different sexual orientations, ethnicity, and interest to build an inclusive workplace, that itself helps to attract diverse employees.


Being inclusive workplace and creating groups for common interest does attract people who see themselves as potential members. The best part is companies that have active ERG programs also attract talent who might not see themselves as members but respect those initiatives.


➔ Leadership Development

Leadership planning is an essential part of workforce planning and if you want to build an inclusive workplace you need a representation of the underrepresented groups in the company leadership. Employee resource groups can be a great source for you to identify future leaders.


To fulfill the future leadership positions in the company there have to be people with leadership qualities. The employee resource groups are employee-led groups which is a great source for leadership training. As ERG members are often focused on providing mentoring programs and helping ERG members in professional development you can easily identify people with leadership skills who take initiative, voice their opinions as well as believe in the professional growth of other employees.


So, ERG not only helps you in the development of future leaders but also can be a gate to professional development opportunities for the ERG members.


➔ Employee Wellbeing

Employee resource groups (ERGs) support common interests and inclusive culture which is a very effective way to provide a much-needed sense of belonging and emotional support to employees. Now that we know that employee well-being is not just their physical condition or absence of diseases but their mental health too.


If you create ERGs where members support each other, employees who get such a sense of community do experience a better sense do well-being resulting in improved productivity as compared to a person who is not an ERG member.


➔ Collaboration and Inclusion

The employee resource group is a huge tool to encourage collaboration among employees. One of the major traits of employee groups is that the group members are always supporting employees they are connected. Employee resource groups give employees the opportunity to connect and make friends in other streams in the company.


When people develop some personal bonds and understand the contribution of other teams they nurture mutual respect and understanding. That makes it easier for them to collaborate with other teams. Such collaborations are catalysts in knowledge sharing and innovations in the workplace. In addition to that it can be a great support for the company’s inclusion initiatives as people feel welcome as employees become more are more accepting towards their difference.


➔ Innovation

Organizations that value diversity and support ERGs often have employee resource groups for multiple aspects ensuring that there are no alienated workers. Affinity groups encourage innovations through collaboration.


An employee who is part of an employee resource group is likely to be associated with multiple ERP groups. The multiple groups extend employee interactions to people with different interests. That exposure often leads to newer ways to think and find solutions leading to innovations and better processes and productivity.


➔ Practical Knowledge

Irrespective of what common interest brings employees together in an employee resource group, professional development becomes a part of it. This is good news for identifying emerging talent in the company as they get a wide range of knowledge and also receive mentorship in some form or another.


A lot of knowledge exchange happens in a company when people talk about their achievements and hurdles they faced at the workplace. That knowledge of practical application is a huge boost to the professional development of employees leading to streamlined processes and quicker problem-solving.


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How to Nurture Effective Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

As discussed above there are multiple benefits of having employee resource groups in the company. So, if you want to form an ERG group in your company here are a few things that will help you form an effective ERG.


➔ Determine Purpose

You should always start with determining what is the purpose of the employee resource group that you want to support at your organization. Is it professional or leadership development that needs to be encouraged? Are these employee resource groups intended to provide support to underrepresented groups in the company?


It’s also crucial to align the purpose of ERGs with the values of the organization. That will also help you to get executive sponsorship, and financial support easily to achieve organizational goals in addition to other benefits such as employee retention.


➔ Provide Resources

Employee resource groups are important for the company. ERGs need resources such are finances, space, and time to operate. It’s best to keep aside some portion of your annual budget for the ERG. The resource groups are employee-led volunteer initiatives so it will be better if you can provide some incentive for the same.


The employee resource groups are all about support and interaction. Having a dedicated corner in the company and a little time span during a workday will be a huge support for the groups to conduct their meetings.


➔ Invite Participation

Once you decide to build an employee resource group and got the purpose and resources lined up, it’s time to get some participation. It’s okay to start with a few people in mind and then the group can keep growing.


If you have someone in mind who can be a great leader or just a group member get them going on the project of recruiting more people. Get help from HR on spreading awareness about what the group is about and how will it function. Do the same about various ERG events so more people join the group and participate in the events.


➔ Get it Structured

Start with defining short-term and long-term goals. Conduct an election so the group has a leader. Build some schedule and accountability for the achievement of goals. Get regular reports on the effectiveness of the ERG and the issues that the company need to act on.



Employee resource groups or ERGs are employee-led groups formed to be inclusive of the underrepresented employees at the workplace. The ERGs can also be created for people with varying interests. These groups benefit firms in multiple ways such as improving employee engagement and increasing retention. In addition to that, it’s a good tool for leadership development and innovation in the workplace.


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