Employees crave a workplace that is inclusive, diverse, socially and community committed, and encourages both personal and professional development. For many, having a career is about more than just punching a time-card, and fortunately for these driven employees, many employers today offer initiatives that include volunteer opportunities, or employee-driven committees, for those who wish to contribute their time and talents to such endeavors. When this career crossroads manifests itself, that employee may seek to join a board or employee engagement group to further their career.
Employee Resource Groups
Typically, when an employee is looking to involve themselves on a committee or board, they’re seeking to involve themselves in an Employee Resource Group, or ERG. A Board of Directors in the stricter sense of the term is subject to external influences, i.e., shareholders, while an ERG is an internal committee that is overseen by the company itself. These ERGs are commonly campaigns for social or community issues that impact employees or the overall business, like a philanthropy group, a professional development group, or a company diversity initiative.
Internally managed committees foster environments where employees are offered the opportunity to grow and strengthen their intangible leadership skills while contributing to an overall cause or movement they’re passionate about. Be sure to make sure employees, both new and tenured, know about the ERG opportunities within your organization, and encourage all employees to become involved!
Being a committee member means more than just showing up to monthly meetings. It is a commitment of time, learning, and resources. Any organization with inactive members stands to achieve no goals. Before joining a group, an employee should clearly understand the expectations of involvement, such as whether they are expected to be involved in fundraising, will they be asked to represent the organization at market facing events, or is there additional committee work? All these instances are opportunities for an employee to expand their professional skills and, in some cases, achieve personal growth as well. Involvement in an ERG, can grow communication, time and project management, collaboration and cross functional skills.
Traits of a Successful Committee Member
A successful committee, whether for an ERG or other organization, requires members who embrace and adapt to workplace and workforce changes. These workplace leaders will also demonstrate the ability to consider others’ ideas and input, while maintaining a primary focus on the organization’s overall goals.
Additional traits that can demonstrate the potential for a successful committee member are:
- Thinks Strategically: Asks questions, probes for more information, and challenges assumptions at board meetings. Keeps organization’s long-term goals in mind, while fielding more immediate needs.
- Leads by Example: Exemplifies organization’s ethics and values
- with integrity and seeks to guide remediate measures when something fails to meet established expectations.
- Focuses Contributions: Invests themselves personally and professionally into their role. Doesn’t overextend their commitments, but instead delivers quality work on time, and seeks to constantly further the committee’s agenda.
Creating Committees and Cultivating Community
If your organization doesn’t currently have any Employee Resource Groups in operation, consider developing a committee surrounding a topic that your employees are passionate about. As an example, diversity is a hot-button topic in the employment marketplace, and studies show that 67% of employees want to work at companies that are leaders in the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Another example of a committee could be a “young professionals” group – a mentor/mentee organization intended to help new-to-the-workforce individuals grow their networks and learn from each other. This could even be an outreach committee seeking to grow within the local community it supports!
The possibilities for community and workplace engagement committees are endless but being passionate about the cause is a key factor in cultivating effective and impactful ERGs. Employers will likely find that when their employees are able to find a personal investment in their contributions, they’re often more satisfied with their work overall. Cultivating a welcoming, inclusive community in your organization by offering your staff Employee Resource Groups will not only strengthen your companies ecosystem, but will further develop the skills and applications of your employees.
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