In today’s age of remote work, hybrid arrangements, and globally dispersed teams, keeping your people engaged can be a challenge. It’s undeniably difficult to create an inclusive, diverse international culture of belonging where teammates across borders feel connected to one another when they rarely or never meet in person. 

It’s up to HR leaders to come up with creative solutions to this very contemporary problem—and there’s no better place to begin than clubs and ERGs. 

Employee Resource Groups are voluntary, employee-led groups based on a shared interest, goal, identity, or value. They’re an excellent way for people to come together, build relationships, and nurture connections between people near and far across the company. ERGs are also great at promoting engagement. In other words, they’re an essential DEI&B tool for modern organizations.

The benefits of ERGs

ERGs offer numerous advantages to employees and the organization alike. In addition to keeping people engaged in their work and encouraging collaboration with colleagues, they’re also a highly effective DEI&B strategy. 

By bringing people from across your globally dispersed teams together through shared interests and passions, ERGs help to strengthen a culture of inclusion and diversity. They expose diverse individuals to “different cultures and a broader worldview,” enriching the diversity of thought across a company’s workforce. 

Not only does this help individuals succeed—offering mobility opportunities to people of diverse backgrounds—but it also strengthens the company. McKinsey has demonstrated a definitive link between workforce diversity and financial success in a study of over 1,000 companies in 12 countries.

How to use ERGs to promote DEI&B

Here are five tips for HR leaders looking to use employee clubs and ERGs to strengthen company culture and promote diversity and inclusion across hybrid and remote teams.

1. Launch an ERG initiative

Start with a push that encourages and provides resources to team members to start new clubs and ERGs. HR’s role is to help people define those interests, identify who else shares them, and create clubs and ERGs based on those interests across all sites.

The interests at the heart of ERGs can be either professional or informal. Professional groups related to professional development in a particular role, reading the latest research in a specific field, or working on leadership skills, are a win-win for club members and the organization. While people get to hone their skills and develop professionally, the company gains a valuable EVP it can use in its recruitment efforts. 

More informal groups, based on hobbies and outside interests such as cooking, reading, or fantasy football, are no less valuable. These provide a natural opportunity for people to socialize and create connections, helping boost people’s happiness and improve the employee experience. 

Many modern HR platforms even include a club feature where people can input their interests and see who across the company shares them. Use these to encourage people to connect, contribute ideas for new clubs, join, and participate. Lean on comms tech like Zoom, GoogleMeet, and MSTeams to include people wherever they’re located, and encourage people in each location to meet in person when they can. 

2. Invest in clubs and ERGs

With their ability to improve engagement and cooperation, clubs can play a significant role in retention, productivity, and teamwork. Think of them as an essential element of your culture and set aside a budget accordingly. Clubs will be able to use these funds for applications such as:

  • Refreshments for in-person meetings
  • Training on relevant topics
  • Hiring external speakers 
  • Hosting events 
  • Community-building activities 

3. Emphasize leadership clubs

Any club topic is great if it gets people together and builds connections. But leadership clubs are especially worthwhile because they help develop people’s professional acuity. Additionally, leadership clubs offer opportunities to network with others who aspire to grow in their careers. 

Leadership clubs can help people of different backgrounds advance professionally through peer mentorships (or senior-junior mentorships) and assist the business in identifying high-potential talent for leadership roles. 

4. Build local chapters of global groups

A key to strengthening DEI&B for remote and hybrid teams is getting people to collaborate and share ideas, whether it’s over a video call or at the local office. Local chapters of different clubs are a great way to foster belonging, helping to bring ERGs out of the digital space and into the real world. 

Encourage your people to build committees within clubs. Local chapters can focus on local issues but collaborate with chapters at different locations around the world. Each group shares a mission and a vision, with chapters taking on the work of local execution. This helps ERGs continue to scale as the company grows globally.

5. Leverage tech

Hybrid workforces demand hybrid ERGs, which require tech to communicate effectively, overcome language barriers, and hold virtual events. In addition to your existing comms stack of conferencing and messaging software, research options for other collaboration platforms to help people feel more connected and engaged with each other. 

Some options worth looking into include:

  • 360Learning – A collaborative learning platform enabling people from within the organization to easily teach classes online
  • World Time Buddy – A time converter to help globally distributed teams schedule meetings
  • Hypercontext – A meeting agenda software allowing people to create collaborative agendas and take meeting notes
  • Miro – A virtual whiteboard for visual collaboration

Time to turn it over 

Your organization is full of intelligent, talented people who crave connections to buy into their roles and engage with their work fully. Clubs and ERGs give them the opportunity to take the lead in building out the groups and systems they want and need within your organization. People get to build their leadership skills and practice taking the initiative while learning from one another and finding a sense of belonging across your company’s global locations. 

It’s up to HR to offer the support, budget, and infrastructure people across the company need to create thriving ERGs. Your people will take it from there, and you’re sure to be impressed with what they come up with and its impact on your culture.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.