Employee groups can be a critical tool for companies striving to build positive and inclusive cultures. In order to truly drive impact though, these communities require structure and support, and a dedicated plan to ensure their longevity. As you can imagine, we’ve done quite a bit of research on what makes for effective employee groups over the course of building Workrowd. When we first started out, it was difficult for us to find information and best practices, so we’ve compiled some of our findings here to hopefully help others in their process.
When considering starting employee groups at your company, the first step is to get input from your staff. Attempting to launch employee initiatives without direct involvement and buy-in from your team is a surefire way to stop your program before it starts. One of the primary goals of employee groups is to increase engagement; in order to achieve it, you have to genuinely engage your employees.
Asking for feedback is just the first step in the process. Whether it’s through surveys, focus groups, or other channels, you have to involve your employees from day one. Ask them what they really like about your company culture, as well as areas where you can improve. Find out what sorts of employee groups they would be interested in joining. Ensure you understand the full world of existing employee initiatives.
Once you’ve requested your employees’ input, you actually have to use what they’ve said to inform your program. You can’t decide what your groups should be in advance, then follow through with your plan regardless of what you hear from your team. This sounds intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many people have told us that this happened at their companies, so it’s critical that we highlight it here.
Once you’ve got your employee-determined roadmap, it’s time for implementation. We’ve got two big pieces of advice on this front:
- Support your employee leaders. Employee culture champions are the unsung heroes of your organization. They’re engagement multipliers, boosting morale and thereby productivity, and serving double-duty as they balance both their primary job responsibilities and their commitment to enriching the workplace. Provide them the resources to run better groups. Recognize all of their contributions, not just those outlined in their role description. Connect them with an executive sponsor. Consider giving them a budget if possible. There are myriad ways to support these rockstars, so choose what works for your organization, but please don’t overlook them. You’ll lose them and much of the positive momentum from their group/program, too.
- Require your groups to create a governing document. Employee groups that are not well supported by the company are at a high risk of falling apart if the leader(s) leave the organization. Additionally, groups without clearly defined goals can lose steam shortly after launch. Accordingly, it’s critical that you require your groups to put some structure around what they’re doing, develop a mission statement, set objectives, formulate a transition plan, etc. You can find examples of such governing documents online for reference (try looking up employee group charters), but this is a crucial step in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of your groups.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t get discouraged if this process takes some time. Culture change is hard, and while well worth it both interpersonally and financially, it’s not something that can just happen overnight. It may be a little while before you see results from your groups, so you have to be prepared to stay the course and continue to check in and support them while they get up to speed.
So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than today to jumpstart engagement and productivity at your company by starting and/or formalizing some employee groups. If you want help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to be a resource in any way we can, and our platform is designed specifically for employee group and events management complete with analytics, so we’ve got your back. We’re looking forward to seeing what your employees can do!