Staff groups is an informal term often used to describe networks of people in a workplace who have similar interests, backgrounds, and so on. A staff group is a community which has been identified as needing or wanting a voice. Practical examples of staff groups may be black and ethnic minorities, those experiencing menopause symptoms or working parents' networks. Regardless of remit, as an employer you need to understand the group. By creating a supportive environment and feedback loop for staff groups, employers can build valuable mechanisms of staff enablement and retention.
There are two main types of staff group:
- an employee resource group (ERG) that provides a safe space for people who share a particular characteristic, often connected with equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
- a staff network that seeks to share interests and/or influence organisational policy.
Both ERGs and staff networks can share similar aims and objectives, however an ERG may focus on providing a voice for one under-represented group, whereas a staff network may act as a channel for the workforce as a whole.
A business case for ERGs and staff networks
The CIPD Good Work Index 2023 indicates that providing avenues for employee voice has a significant impact on how team members view their work. Staff groups, depending on their remit, can bring several practical organisational benefits:
8 steps to build and support ERGs and staff network
While it is important that staff feel ownership of the group that they are a part of, the organisation has a role in facilitating and supporting ERGs and staff networks. This boosts the group’s legitimacy and demonstrates that the company places value on the issues employees are passionate about. Through a series of steps, people professionals can support the development and sustainability of staff groups:
The benefits of ERGs for specific groups
In promoting and supporting ERGs the business signposts a clear, psychologically safe channel for employees from a diverse range of backgrounds and communities to be able to share their lived experiences. The business’s willingness to hear and act on feedback of lived experiences demonstrates that the organisation embraces the value and credibility of the ERG and its members.
Examples of successful ERGs and staff networks
A number of organisations have successfully implemented ERGs and staff networks in order to support their staff and develop their business. There are many examples of staff groups having a prominent and influential role in shaping an organisation:
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