When employees can bond over their similarities, the real magic happens. We spend so much time thinking about what makes us different, but the most important information is what we can find in common. For example, employee interest groups help employees connect over shared problems and hobbies.
Today, we will break down fifteen employee interest groups, so your team can find their new best friends at work.
What Is an Employee Interest Group?
First, let’s talk about what an employee interest group is.
Employee interest groups help employees get to know other people at work who share similar interests and hobbies.
As organizations grow to hundreds or thousands of workers, it becomes easy to create a siloed work environment where employees spend very little time outside of their small group of colleagues in their department.
Interest groups encourage employees to work together and build relationships outside of their department.
How Does an Employee Interest Group Differ From an Employee Resource Group?
We often talk about employee resource groups on the Workrowd blog. Is there a difference between an interest group and a resource group? Not necessarily. Most organizations use these words interchangeably when discussing a group of employees who get together to talk about something they have in common.
15 Employee Interest Group Ideas
So, now that you know why interest groups are so important, let’s dive into a few ideas for employee interest groups:
First, you can encourage your employees to start an interest group around reading. Reading is a hobby that many employees have, and it can be a simple way to bond at work. For example, your reading group can host a monthly or quarterly book club where they sit down and chat about the themes addressed in a book.
You can encourage your employees to read something related to work, a holiday like Women’s History Month, or something entirely out of left field.
Books will connect your staff and give them something obvious to talk about, which is key to building bonds between people who don’t know each other.
If your employees like to get outside, you might want to create a gardening interest group. Gardening is a relaxing activity, and everyone has found unique ideas for making it work for them.
If you want to support your employees and their love of gardening, you could even create a community garden on your company’s campus or rent a space at a local garden for them to tend.
3. Musical Instruments
Have you ever wanted to start a band? You probably already have the musical talent for it in your office. Encourage employees who play musical instruments or sing to come together and have a jam session. Your company might help discover the next big hit!
Getting out into the community to volunteer can be a satisfying experience. It can be challenging to make time for volunteering as an adult, though. Creating a volunteering employee interest group can help you introduce great nonprofits to your team and get them out to help the community.
Whether you are looking for your next opportunity or getting to know colleagues, networking is a fantastic skill to hone.
Your organization can create employee interest groups around topics like networking. For example, a networking group might put on a speed dating-style networking event or teach networking skills like active listening and confidence.
Being a new parent or experiencing a new part of parenthood is nerve-wracking. Chances are your organization has a ton of experienced and not-so-experienced parents on staff. Being able to learn and grow with each other creates a positive experience for all your people.
Consider creating a group where parents can come together and share stories, advice, and resources.
As your organization grows, you might bring on employees from all over the country, or even farther. Chances are, you’ll start to get a couple of concentrations of people in different cities, states, regions, or time zones. You can easily create interest groups around these specific locations. Then, with those groups in place, you can plan fun in-person events or experiences for employees who live nearby.
8. Job Function
Another type of interest group that becomes more necessary as you expand your team is around job function. For example, you might have hundreds or thousands of sales professionals or engineers. As a team grows, you can see silos crop up even within a department. Encourage these teams to stick together by creating employee interest groups around these roles and job functions.
9. People of Color
An interest group that aligns more with an ERG is a group for the people of color in your company. People of color so often belong to underrepresented groups at work. Interest or resource groups allow people of color to come together, share stories, and seek support from people who have similar experiences.
If you are a remote or hybrid organization, it can be challenging to find time and space to work together. One interest community you could build is around coworking. When you think of coworking, you might think of companies like WeWork, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Coworking means working in tandem with other people. So, you could create a group that has the sole focus of jumping on a video call and getting some work done at the same time.
11. LGBTQ+ Support
Another employee resource group you might want to create is a group focused on LGBTQ+ support. It can be challenging to be out at work, even in 2021. These support groups can act as a safe space for employees to share their feelings and know that they aren’t alone.
Sports is another great way to bring your team together. These activities are taking place year-round, so there’s always something to watch together.
Here are a few ideas for what to do with a sports interest group:
- Fantasy sports
- Participate in a real sports team at a community center
- Go to a game together
13. Women in X
Back to an ERG idea, you could create a group for women in your company focused on your industry. For example, Women in Tech or Women in Higher Education. Women are underrepresented in a number of sectors, and it’s a good idea to help them connect with and learn from each other.
Mentoring is a fantastic way to prepare the next generation of workplace leaders. However, mentoring at work doesn’t necessarily happen on its own. Sometimes organizations have to push to encourage senior leaders to connect with younger employees. Creating a group for mentoring can help you build the infrastructure you need to drive your mentorship program forward.
15. Social Justice
Unfortunately, we live in a pretty unjust society. There always seems to be something to get behind when it comes to social justice initiatives. These issues infiltrate the workplace, even if some companies would like to pretend they don’t.
Creating a social justice interest community can help your team channel their feelings into advocacy for these important causes controlling our country’s discourse.
Conclusion: There Are Many Employee Interest Groups to Create
The ideas for interest communities at work are endless. If you are looking to connect your team, start building out some of these communities online. Encourage employees to join the groups that suit their interests.
Once employees begin participating in these conversations, try getting them to build structure into these groups and support them with funds to take their communities to the next level.
Before you know it, you’ll have bustling workplace communities.
Did you know you can use Workrowd to host your employee interest groups? Our communities make the perfect home base for your ERGs and EIGs. Send us an email at email@example.com to see if we’re right for your organization.