A group of diverse employees in age and race meeting together.
Employee Benefits

How Employee Resource Groups Can Improve Your Employee Communication

Mark Fitzgibbons
Mark Fitzgibbons
Communication Director, Employee Benefits

To create and maintain a healthy and engaged workforce, employers recognize that simply saying your organization cares doesn’t cut it. Active, ongoing support of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) demonstrates that your organization will meet your people where they are and will show up for them every day. Engaging your people in their employee benefits is one way to show you care — and involving employee resource groups (ERGs) can give you an additional boost.

ERGs are communities within your organization that identify with or support a specific segment of your population. Some popular ERGs include: Asian American, Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, Women, People with Disabilities, and Caregiving affinities.

Here’s how you can engage with ERGs to ensure that what you have to offer isn’t being overlooked.

Look Beyond Demographic Data

You may have a good handle on what your population looks like by the numbers, but your ERGs can help deepen your understanding of how your people think and feel. Start with questions like:

  • Which benefits are most valuable for your needs? Are any missing? For example: LGBTQ+ ERGs may point out a lack of inclusive family planning benefits, such as surrogacy support.
  • Are there life events or scenarios that are not represented in your benefits communication? A caregiving ERG may share that they’re having trouble finding resources that support older loved ones.
  • Do you feel you can access enough providers who closely identify with you? Seeing a health provider or financial advisor who doesn’t have similar life experiences can be challenging and uncomfortable. If you work with your vendors to make your employee benefits more inclusive, then communicate what you’ve done directly.

Test Ideas to Enhance Employee Benefits

Considering a plan design change or introducing a new benefit, program, or vendor? Ask the ERGs what they think.

Employee listening is an important piece of any communication strategy, but it’s especially significant for groups that are historically marginalized. Oftentimes, decision-makers can’t see where a certain plan or program has gaps.

Provide Supportive Training to Managers

One of the first places employees or members will go for help is their manager, so your managers need to know where to direct people for support. Make sure managers are equipped to deal with potential questions about DE&I by providing them with resources they need to be knowledgeable.

You can do this by:

  • Creating dedicated resources like manager talking points and manager training, and hosting ERG and manager meetings that focus on benefits-related inclusive topics.
  • Communicating DE&I support regularly by sharing testimonials of how ERGs and DE&I-based efforts have helped employees and their loved ones use their benefits.
  • Providing and reminding managers of the resources available to them to navigate stressful and sensitive conversations.

Let the Grapevine Work

“I didn’t know we had that!” How many times have you heard this statement?

By engaging with ERGs, you’ll connect the people who need and appreciate benefits the most with the resources offered. Meet with each ERG to hear what benefits they’d like, and share which benefits are already in place. You can also create ERG-specific materials that detail the benefits and resources a group may be interested in.

Upgrade Recruiting Materials

It’s not enough to say, “We’re a DE&I-friendly workplace.” Show potential new hires in your recruiting material by detailing how you support different affinity groups. Make your ERGs external facing. Share how your benefits and programs support your unique populations.

Refine Content from Vendors

All benefits information needs a bit of work to make it easier to understand. Take that refinement a step further and review messaging from the perspective of different groups. As with testing and employee listening, review vendor employee benefits content for bias with all ERGs to ensure that what you roll out is inclusive and helpful.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start the Conversation

It can be scary to tackle DE&I in benefits communications, but don’t let that hold you back from diving in. Having a diverse workforce isn’t the same as having an inclusive one, and employee benefits are uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap with support.

At Holmes Murphy, we are expanding our own DE&I efforts as we truly want our employees to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. As part of this, we are in our own process of creating several ERGs (in addition to what we already have) and are excited to see where these groups can lead us.

Simply put, we’re proud to work alongside employees and organizations that value each other and their people. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk.

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