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15 employee interest groups to help your team connect in 2021

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:

1. Reading

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.

2. Gardening

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!

4. Volunteering

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.

5. Networking

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.

6. Parents

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.

7. Location

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.

10. Coworking

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.

12. Sports

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.

14. Mentoring

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 hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re right for your organization.

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A quick how-to guide for starting a diversity council

Are you interested in starting a diversity council at your organization? Creating this type of group at your business can be challenging for companies, but with the right step-by-step process, your employees can start advocating for all team members.

What Is a Diversity Council?

A diversity council is a group of employees that get together, discuss issues, and propose solutions around workplace diversity.

These council members cover a wide range of issues across gender, race, disability, socioeconomic status, and so much more.

The members strive to be a voice for all different sorts of employees. Diversity councils need to be taken seriously because of that.

Tips for Starting Your Organization’s Diversity Council

Now that we know what a diversity council is, let’s talk about what your team needs to do to start a committee like this.

1. Understand Where Your Diversity Currently Stands

Before you start a council, you’ll want to get a good understanding of where your company’s diversity currently stands. This will help you set goals as a leadership team and understand the people you need to advocate for.

You can create an anonymous survey for your employees to get a good understanding of their background or demographics. Demographics surveys don’t have to contain personal information because the purpose of these surveys is to gather information about the state of your workplace.

Here are some demographic qualities you might want to learn more about:

  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Job Level
  • Kids/No Kids
  • Time Zone/State/Country
  • Education
  • Marital Status

2. Create Goals Around Diversity at Work

Once you have a clearer picture of where your diversity currently stands, you can start to create goals around how you’d like to see diversity at your company evolve.

Maybe you’d like to see a certain percentage of leadership positions filled by underrepresented groups. Or you might want to diversify where you find hires to increase candidate diversity.

Pick some goals you’d like to see addressed by the council over the next several years.

3. Share Your Wish to Create a Diversity Council and Seek Participants

After you’ve done some preliminary work, it’s time to get employees involved. Reach out to all your employees for inclusion in the diversity council.

Employees from majority groups in your organization might want to become better allies and participate in the council’s efforts. These employees can be connectors and help the council’s mission extend beyond the meetings held.

You’ll want to get employees and outside experts on the council. Work with a wide variety of people to ensure that this council can effectively tackle your company’s diversity initiatives.

Work with council members to select the best leaders for the council group during its early stages.

4. Make Sure Employees Are Kept in the Loop as You Make a Decision

As you make these critical decisions that impact employees, it’s important to keep them in the loop. For example, you could let employees know:

  • What you are looking for in diversity council members.
  • The makeup of your diversity council when it comes to employees vs. outside experts.
  • When a final council decision will be made and how you’ll let the team know.

Getting a committee like this is probably a welcome change for employees. Your team members just want to be kept in the loop so they know what’s happening.

5. Further Define Diversity Council Goals With Your Members

Once you have your members in place, it’s time to sit down with them to further define the diversity council’s goals. You can share some of the plans you came up with as a leadership team, but council members should have the final say in what they want to tackle.

Give your council members access to the goals you’ve set as an organization, and ask them to brainstorm on what they think the council should be tackling. Then, during the meeting, you can hear from multiple council members. Let members start to define their focus as a council.

6. Get an Executive Sponsor for Your Diversity Council

Once you have a group of council members in place, you’ll also want to secure an executive sponsor for your group. Having an executive sponsor for your diversity council will help your group get more traction with senior-level executives in your organization.

The truth is simple. Company leaders might not be willing to give up power or even discuss items with your diversity council long-term. Part of starting a diversity council is making sure that it has every opportunity to succeed. Executive sponsors help make sure that happens.

7. Encourage Diversity Council Members to Create Their Own Rules

Before you let your council run on their own, you’ll probably want to spend a bit of time helping the diversity council members draft the rules around being on the panel. Your council members might want to develop regulations around:

  • Council terms and term limits: Is this appointment made yearly, every two years, or every three years? How many terms can be served?
  • Early termination: Is there any reason an employee or outside member might be terminated early, like breaking confidentiality or posting something racist, sexist, ageist, etc., on social media?
  • Deciding on initiatives: How does your council determine what project to tackle next? It’s essential to have an understanding of this before you finish your first initiative.

8. Maintain a Successful Diversity Council

With all of these policies, procedures, goals, and council members in place, you are well on your way to a fantastic diversity council experience.

From here, it’s time to let your diversity council run on its own. You can undoubtedly request regular meetings with council leaders, but it’s up to them to run the show daily.

How Does a Diversity Council Work With Employee Resource Groups?

One question we want to address is the difference between a council and employee resource group.

Councils work because they are small enough to have intimate conversations and make great recommendations. Employee resource groups work because they make various underrepresented groups at your company feel appreciated and not so alone. ERGs can have thousands of members, but that won’t work for a council.

You can certainly invite ERG leaders to be on your diversity council. In fact, this would be wise because these leaders have a lot of knowledge to transfer around what employees want from the company.

Conclusion: Starting a Diversity Council as an Organization

With all of these steps covered, you’re well-positioned to launch a thriving diversity council. We hope this article gave you some food for thought and a roadmap to creating your organization’s diversity council.

Are you ready to start planning a great diversity council? Consider using a tool like Workrowd to host groups and councils like your diversity council. Email us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’d be suitable for your organization’s needs.

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Why having friends at work is key to business success

Starting a new job can be scary and overwhelming. There are so many people to meet and get to know. Hopefully, as employees grow with your company, they’ll meet people they like and enjoy spending time with. Having friends at work can significantly impact your team, so we’re here to help you support your employees in building these key connections.

Gallup’s Q12 Survey and Having Friends at Work

When you think about connecting your employees, you have to understand how important it is. For example, Gallup, a leading company in employee engagement, talks a lot about the importance of friends at work. As a result, having friends at work made it into their Q12 employee engagement survey.

Question 10 of their survey reads, “I have a best friend at work.”

Gallup shares:

Globally, three in 10 employees strongly agree that they have a best friend at work. By moving that ratio to six in 10, organizations could realize 28% fewer safety incidents, 5% higher customer engagement scores and 10% higher profit.

Gallup

How to Encourage Friendships at Work

So, now that you understand why you should encourage friendships, let’s talk about how to make it happen for your staff members. Being a friendship matchmaker can feel awkward, but so is trying to make friends with colleagues on one’s own. Your employees would love some direction from management to help them build these relationships.

1. Introduce Potential Hires to Employees Early

First, you want to introduce candidates to their potential colleagues as early as you can. There are a couple of ways to make this happen for your employees:

  • Highlight your team on your company’s career page.
  • Bring in employees throughout the interview process.
  • Invite employees to join you at career fairs or recruitment events.

You want potential employees to be able to feel your company’s culture before they sign on with your organization. Potential workers may even make a friend before they start orientation.

2. Use a Cohort Model During Onboarding

Onboarding can be a lonely process, especially if you are doing it alone. The best companies use a cohort model to onboard new hires. Cohorts are groups of new hires who go through the process at the same time. With this form of onboarding, your employees can make friends instantly because they are all working together to get to know the organization.

3. Encourage Employees to Get To Know Colleagues Throughout Their Tenure

After onboarding is complete, you have to continue to nudge employees in the right direction. Encourage employees to take time to get to know their colleagues.

You could even create a monthly calendar reminder to nudge employees you manage to get to know their team members.

On top of that, create some interesting optional events that help employees make friends, like coworking hours or monthly meet and greets.

4. Create Communal Spaces at Your Office

If you’re trying to create office friendships, what does your office look like? Is it closed off and dark? Are there spaces for employees to gather without getting in the way of their teammates? Your office space needs to be conducive to friendships if you want them to form.

  • Create larger spaces where groups of employees can gather.
  • Add light in by painting the walls a bright color and keeping windows uncovered so the communal spaces are pleasant to be in.
  • Soundproof the offices or areas where people gather, so workers don’t feel bad about the noise they might make.

5. Create Employee Resource Groups for Cross-Departmental Connections

Employee resource groups are a great cross-departmental experience for workers. People who participate in ERGs get to meet new and exciting people they may never have heard of due to departmental silos.

If you want to expand the friendship possibilities at work, creating an ERG is the perfect project for your business. Are you unsure of how to market, manage, and measure these programs? Check out Workrowd to see if we can help you host your company’s employee resource groups.

6. Include ‘Get To Know You’ Time During Meetings

Meetings are an essential part of internal communications for companies. Unfortunately, many organizations have established meeting agendas that get straight to the point. Ultimately, this misses a huge opportunity: get to know you time.

Meetings are more effective when everyone around the table trusts each other. Some organizations are missing this core component, but they don’t have to stay that way.

Start each meeting with a 5- to 10-minute ‘get to know you’ game. These quick games can help employees get to know different organization members and find employees they might have something in common with.

7. Introduce Employees You Think Would Like Each Other

Are you finding you need to be a bit more hands-on with employee friendships? Sometimes the best thing you can do is to make an introduction.

As a company leader, you know a lot of people in the organization. You probably have a couple of people in mind who should meet each other. Don’t be afraid to broker the connection.

Create a group chat with the employees who need to meet each other. Write a simple message like:

“Hi {Employee A},

I was talking with {Employee B} about {whatever you were talking about}. It reminded me of a conversation we had not too long ago about this exact topic. I thought you might like one more person in the company to talk to about this. I think you two will get along well!

A simple introduction should do the trick, and it will open up some incredible workplace friendships based on a shared experience, trait, or like/dislike.

8. Showcase the Friendships You’ve Made at Work

Last but not least, model what great workplace relationships look like. Share the details of your favorite workplace friendships and encourage employees to find friendships that matter to them.

Encourage other workplace leaders to share their friendship stories with their direct reports and colleagues as well.

As more leaders begin talking about workplace friendships, having friends at work will become even easier for your organization.

Conclusion: Help Your Team Members Develop Workplace Friendships

Your team members deserve to have fantastic workplace friendships. One of the hardest parts about being an adult is making friends. Work gives people a chance to meet and bond with others. As a company leader, it’s your job to help facilitate these connections so that employees can genuinely say they have a best friend at work.

Are you interested in seeing if Workrowd can help you create workplace friendships? Send us an email at hello@workrowd.com to learn more.

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15 employee challenge ideas to excite your workforce

Having an engaged workforce is essential for companies. One unique way to do that is to challenge your team with fun monthly or quarterly team-building experiences. So how do you come up with fun employee challenge ideas for your organization? Simple, you turn to a list like this one that does the hard work for you.

Keep reading for 15 employee challenge ideas your team can use.

1. Employee Care Packages

One of the first workforce challenge ideas we suggest is sending out employee care packages. Care packages are fun, especially if you have a remote team.

Instead of sending a package for your team, give each team member a budget ($50-$100), a box, and a shipping label. Encourage your employees to send a package to another team member with whom they may not have spent a ton of time. Encourage them to fill the box with fun, local items and ship it to their person.

As boxes arrive, encourage your team to share the boxes in your company’s community (you can use Workrowd for this) and post it on social media. It’s a win for your organization and your employees who get to try new products!

2. Send a Thank You Note

Does the thought of care packages seem a bit spendy to you? You can create a budget-friendly experience for your team by encouraging your employees to send thank you notes to 3-5 employees who have touched their lives. Make this experience unique by creating company-branded thank you notes for your team to use.

3. Drink Water

Water is an essential part of life, but most people need to drink more plain water (even if they get enough water in their diets through other means.) Therefore, encouraging employees to consume the necessary amount of water is a great habit to support.

Try hosting a water challenge to get people to drink the recommended amount of water every day for a month or two. You can even send a branded bottle to help your employees complete this task.

4. Screen Time

As employees continue to work from home, screen time has become a concern.

Whether you use an Android or Apple device, you can track screen time to see where you can cut back.

For this employee challenge idea, get your staff to check out how much time they spend on their phones and help them develop a plan to cut it down. Employees who can reduce screen time by 1-2 hours can expect a fun prize.

5. Book/Movie Club

Reading a book or watching a movie together can create some great experiences with your team. Employee challenge ideas don’t have to be complicated. Pick a shared watch or read and have a chat for 30 minutes to an hour one afternoon.

6. Learning a New Skill

Whether you are a seasoned employee or fresh out of college, learning new skills is essential. Encourage your employees to pick up a new hobby and use a site like Udemy or Skillshare to take a course.

Your organization can give out a small one-time bonus of $50 or so to go out and pick out an exciting class for employees to learn.

7. Get Outside

As temperatures start to cool down in most of the country, consider this employee challenge idea: help your team get outside.

Encourage team members to spend a relaxing evening outside reading a book or playing with their family.

It’s so easy to stay indoors whether you work from home or in an office. Encourage employees to break this cycle and spend time outdoors.

8. Journaling

Sharing your feelings with your colleagues can be challenging, but journaling can have an immensely positive benefit for your team.

Encourage your employees by purchasing nice, branded notebooks. Encourage employees to jot down their feelings, ideas, and wishes in the journals you provide.

You can give a fun prize to the employee who writes the most daily entries in a specific time frame. Just encourage employees to blur out their entries if they contain private information.

9. Walking/Working Out

Employee challenge ideas aren’t easy to come up with. One of the most basic ideas is a walking or working out challenge for your team. Encourage your employees to take a noon walk or work out before work. You could even compile some of your favorite free workout videos on YouTube or get a gym membership for employees for the month to encourage employees to complete this challenge.

10. Family/Friend Time

Workplace challenges don’t have to be complicated. For example, one unique challenge your team can take on is to encourage your employees to spend more time with friends and family throughout the week.

Whether you are eating dinner with your family or watching a movie, time spent with your loved ones and away from work is essential.

Get employees to spend more time with their families for a month. You’ll quickly notice a workplace morale bump.

11. Volunteering

Volunteering at work can have several surprising benefits. Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t taking advantage of the power of volunteer days at work.

Try lining up a few volunteer efforts during one month out of the year. Encourage employees to participate in as many events as they’d like to. Then, after the event is over, encourage employees to share their experiences with the company (or even on social media.)

Before you know it, more employees will be volunteering and enjoying the benefits of volunteer work at your company.

12. Mindfulness/ Meditation

Mindfulness at work can have many positive side effects. Being tense or moody is no way to show up to the office, but some people do so anyway. Teaching employees proper coping techniques can have a net positive effect on your organization.

Establishing a mindfulness practice is easier said than done. It takes time to understand why you are feeling the way you are and take action on it. As an organization leader, you can help employees get in touch with their emotions by leading mindfulness sessions.

13. Habit Building

As we just discussed, it can take a while to build healthy, positive habits. Most employees don’t have the energy to find a routine and stick to it. What if they had an incentive to do so?

Sit down with your employees and create a habit-building challenge. Each employee can come up with the habit they want to build. You can walk them through defining the practice and what activity they want to do daily. From there, you create a longer challenge (at least 60 days because forming a habit can take a while).

14. Networking

Networking is a fundamental part of business success, but most employees don’t network enough after getting a full-time job. On the other hand, networking can be positive for your business and your employee’s future career.

If you want employees to start networking more, make a challenge out of it. Encourage employees to take to LinkedIn or their favorite Slack group to find interesting people in their niche. Requesting a networking call is as simple as sending an inquiry. The only negative outcome would be a ‘no’ from that person.

15. Healthy Sleep

Last but not least, many Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. So one of the best things you can do to encourage better sleep is to make it a challenge.

Encourage employees to track their sleeping habits with their devices or enter the time they are getting. Employees who clock the most nighttime sleep hours can win a fun prize like a new pillow.

Conclusion: Employee Challenge Ideas Your Team Will Love

Are you ready to connect with your team through fun employee challenge ideas? We hope that this article gave you something interesting to think about when planning out your next company challenges.

Workrowd can be a great place to host your workplace challenges. Shoot us an email at hello@workrowd.com to see if we are suitable for your organization.

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7 benefits of leading an employee resource group

So, you’ve been asked to consider leading an employee resource group. You might be wondering about the benefits of doing this. How can being an ERG leader help you grow your career? Many employees have discussed how being in charge of an employee resource group changed their career trajectory. Today, we wanted to show you some of the many benefits you can get from leading one of your company’s groups.

1. Planning Fun Events That Bring Your Company Closer Together

One of the best parts about leading an employee resource group is that you get to plan fun networking and educational events for your organization.

Event planners have several skills that are highly relevant at work, such as creativity and communicativeness. In addition, learning how to throw events on a budget or get people to attend your events will serve you well throughout your career.

2. Learning How to Set Goals and Create a Plan to Reach Them

As an employee resource group leader, you are responsible for a lot of tasks. One of your main objectives is to connect with company leaders and ERG members to determine goals for your group. After you pick your goals, you have to create a plan to reach those targets.

Leading an employee resource group isn’t easy because sometimes the goals are a bit lofty. For example, your ultimate goal might be to increase diversity or obtain better benefits for parents. As a leader, you need to determine the best strategies to get you where you want to go.

3. Gaining Valuable Leadership Skills You Might Not Get Outside of an ERG

Let’s be honest, sometimes organizations don’t offer tons of leadership opportunities outside of an ERG. However, leading this group might be exactly what you need to showcase your leadership and excitement about your company.

ERGs are a microcosm or smaller community of your organization. Leading in an ERG will help company executives and employees understand your leadership style and what you offer the company.

4. Connecting and Working With Cool Colleagues You Never Knew About

When you choose to lead an ERG, you open yourself up to many networking opportunities. Employee resource groups attract employees from all over your company. You will get to know engineers, marketers, salespeople, HR professionals, etc.

As new people join and leave the organization, you’ll have connections with a ton of people.

ERG leaders have a profound impact on employees. As a leader, you will have a hand in making new employees feel welcome and excited about your organization.

These connections will only help you as you get other leadership positions or move to other companies.

5. Getting a Chance to Help Other People Develop Their Workplace Skills

One of the best parts about leading an employee resource group is seeing other employees develop their workplace skills. As an ERG leader, you organize events that help colleagues work on their networking and communication skills.

Your events support employees in making cross-departmental connections that will serve them as they decide how to move up the ladder in their own professional careers.

Overall, you will have a positive effect on many people in and outside of your department. The impact that you have in an ERG can have a ripple effect throughout the organization.

6. Engaging With HR and Company Leaders on Topics You Care About

If you are thinking about leading an ERG, consider all the opportunities you will get to engage with HR and company leaders on topics you care about.

Now, this isn’t always a guarantee. Sometimes, you’ll have to work hard to get your foot in the door with HR leaders and company executives. You might need to work closely with your ERG’s executive sponsor to get the right meetings and make an impact.

On the other hand, if your organization takes ERG leaders seriously, you’ll have an awesome opportunity to make an impact at work. For example, ERG leaders can influence company culture by letting HR and company executives know what new and existing employees need to be happy at work.

So, how do you get that seat at the table? First, get results and learn how to share them with HR leaders and executives. Your executive sponsor should be able to help you with this, but you should feel empowered to take the reins as well.

For example, consider gathering data on things like employee retention based on members of your resource group. Are you helping employees find their place and stay with the organization? That’s worth noting as you share your ideas with other company leaders.

7. Leading an Employee Resource Group Directly Associates You With Positive Company Changes

As you are working to advance in your career, imagine how great having a track record of positive change would be. If you advocate for yourself and your accomplishments, leading this group can create a positive reputation for you.

Here’s the kicker: as we discussed before, company leaders won’t automatically think about you or associate your actions with changes. So you have to connect with various leaders and let your team know about what you are doing.

For example, maybe you can create a monthly newsletter that showcases all of your work on behalf of the organization. Try different approaches to getting people to understand what you do.

Conclusion: Step up by Leading an Employee Resource Group

Are you ready to take your career to the next level? Leading an employee resource group is the perfect place to start, and your company thinks you’re ready to lead! We hope that this article gave you some things to consider as you evaluate whether this move is right for you.

Do you want to show your first form of ERG leadership? Try suggesting a tool that will make creating and maintaining employee resource groups easier.

Workrowd might be the perfect partner for your organization’s resource groups. Encourage your leadership team to email us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we are right for your organization.

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10 employee appreciation event ideas to delight your team

Coming up with employee appreciation event ideas can be challenging for companies. Whether you are on a tight budget or have some money to spare, we hope this list of event ideas can help you connect with your team.

1. Participate in a Group Volunteer Day

Volunteering can be a stellar experience for employees, but it’s not always easy to make time for this activity. Arranging a group volunteer day might be just what your team needs to help them find time for volunteering.

Here are a few things you can do as a group:

  • Clean up a highway or park.
  • Pass out meals at a soup kitchen.
  • Shop for, put together, and hand out baskets full of toiletries and living essentials for those in need.

But, how can we frame these volunteer days as employee appreciation event ideas? Simple, you can sweeten the deal by playing fun music, rewarding team members who are participating, and even offering paid time off for employees who attend the event.

2. Put On a Food Truck Lunch Event

Sometimes one of the easiest ways to show appreciation for your team is to cater lunch. If your city has food trucks, consider reserving a few of them to cater lunch for your team.

For example, you could host several food trucks and let your employees choose for the day. Alternatively, you could do a Food Truck Friday where you invite a food truck to your company’s office and buy lunch for your team that day.

3. Create a Drink Station

Do you want more employee appreciation event ideas? Try creating a drink station at work. This simple appreciation event helps you show love for your team by supplying them with free drinks from a:

  • Coffee bar
  • Hot chocolate station
  • Lemonade stand

This idea works even better if staff members can customize the drinks in some way. For example, you can make this event even cooler by purchasing customized keepsake cups or mugs.

4. Host an End-of-the-Year Award Ceremony

One of the most traditional employee appreciation event ideas is an end-of-the-year award ceremony. Employees love receiving recognition for the hard work they’ve put in throughout the year; wouldn’t you?

Try putting together a fun event with custom awards, a nice dinner, and lots of time to bond and connect with coworkers. These events make work special for your team members.

5. Throw Events on Company Anniversaries

Did you know that quitting spikes around a person’s work anniversary? It’s one of the three days employees are most likely to quit.

Work anniversaries make your team think about what they’ve accomplished at your organization. Unfortunately, they might find that they don’t like what they see.

It’s your job as an employer to make sure that staff members feel loved and appreciated year-round. But, you should show some extra love by hosting an event or party for workplace anniversaries.

6. Host a Great Speaker

If you’ve been in the corporate world for a while, you know how energizing a great speaker can be.

Show your appreciation for your amazing staff by inviting a captivating speaker to your office and hosting a nice lunch.

If you get a relatively famous speaker, you can even get them to sign autographs or take pictures after the event.

7. Have a Creative Party

Whether you work in a creative field or you work an analytical job, people love getting creative. What’s better than getting creative when there are no expectations about how good or bad your art will be?

Spend some time chatting, listening to music, and bonding as an organization.

Here are a few examples of creative projects you could get your team into:

  • Painting
  • Jewelry making
  • Pottery
  • Tie dye
  • Lego building

8. Invite Loved Ones to a Family and Friends Day

Who doesn’t love sharing their work with their family and friends? A family and friends day is the perfect way to show your employees how much you care while entertaining their loved ones.

The best family and friends days give your employees’ loved ones a chance to see what they do at work while showing your team how much you care about them.

Try hosting this event as a half day. Family and friends can join the company around lunchtime, take a tour of your office, and see a lunchtime presentation of company awards. After that, you can have a fun afternoon activity for everyone to participate in together.

9. Go to a Game Together

As the fall approaches, fun sports like football and basketball are coming back. Whether you support a high school team or a professional league, going to a game can be fun.

Work with your local sports team to purchase a bunch of seats for your employees. Then, go to the game together dressed in team gear or colors. Before you know it, you and your employees will be having fun together.

Bringing your company together for a fun night on the town isn’t cheap, but it can bring you closer. Make sure that your team members understand that you are doing this because you appreciate the time and energy they put into the company.

10. Host a Talent Show

Employees should be recognized for the talents they have outside of the office, too. When did you last take the time to appreciate your team members for all of their skills and abilities?

Hosting a talent show gives you a chance to highlight all of your employees’ talents, from writing to singing.

You can provide awards for talent show winners like cash, gift cards, or extra time off. Try rewarding employees who are brave enough to step up with a small reward as well, even if they don’t win.

Hosting a talent show should provide lots of entertainment, even if some of your employees are too shy to join. Plus, hosting a talent show shouldn’t cost you a ton of money.

Conclusion: Recognize Your Team With These Employee Appreciation Event Ideas

Your employees deserve recognition. Today’s employee appreciation event ideas should hopefully give you some food for thought around how to celebrate your staff members.

You can create a Workrowd krowd for anything, including planning employee appreciation events. Reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if our product is right for your business.

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How to be an effective executive sponsor to an ERG

If you have been in an employee resource group before, you know the importance of having a committed executive sponsor. Sponsors can change the direction of an ERG, and get other company leaders to take them more seriously. Now that you are in the position to sponsor a group, we want to share some tips on how to be an effective executive sponsor.

Work With an ERG You Believe In

First, you’ll want to find an ERG you believe in. What does that even mean? Well, you’ll want to work with an employee resource group that you are passionate and excited about.

The employees who belong to this group will depend on you for advice and enthusiastic support. So try to find a group you can spend months or even years advocating for.

Connect with some leaders and members of the various ERGs at your organization before you make a decision. Employees need motivated sponsors on their side.

Attend as Many ERG Meetings as Possible

If you want to keep up with ERG news and updates, you need to attend meetings. The most effective executive sponsors take time to attend meetings and show ERG members the respect they deserve.

When you attend ERG meetings, take effective notes and strive to understand how you could best help the group. Sponsors aren’t ERG leadership. As a sponsor, your job is to understand the ERG and its goals. From there, you can share tips/advice from time to time and advocate for ERG members.

Provide a Listening Ear to ERG Members

Whether you are in a meeting or not, listening is an important part of how to be an effective executive sponsor. Are you being a good listener to ERG members? Do you take the time to understand their concerns as a group and as individuals?

Many ERGs help protect underserved communities in your organization, like people of color or working parents. Take the time to listen to concerns without jumping into help mode. You’ll be surprised what you might learn when you slow down.

Help ERG Members Advocate for Their Needs at Work

Did you know that self-advocacy is one of the most important skills that employees can learn?

After you listen to ERG members, you need to teach them to advocate for their own needs at work. Part of being an ERG sponsor is advocating, but you might not always be around to connect the dots with your company’s leadership team.

Teach your members about the importance of understanding the ERG mission and sharing that mission with other company executives.

Become an Advocate for ERG Policies and Updates

As an ERG executive sponsor, you should also be letting leaders know about the mission of the ERG.

Do you want to know how to be an effective executive sponsor? Try opening up a door at work.

For example, you could get your ERG for parents a meeting with HR to discuss benefits that would appeal to working parents.

As an executive sponsor, you are a connector. You help your team by being a supportive voice. For example, when you see an opportunity for the group to chat with a company leader, make the connection.

Challenge ERG Members to Think Outside the Box

ERG members can often be stuck playing small. Underrepresented team members might not realize all of the support they have or where to find that support.

You have to connect with ERG leaders/members and get them to think differently. If their current approach to change at work isn’t helping move things forward, maybe there’s another way to go about it.

Remind your team of this famous quote:

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

Alexander Graham Bell

If things have been a certain way for a while, change can feel hopeless. Your employee resource group may have given up excitement, or they may use meetings to vent in a safe space.

Find quick wins to reenergize group members and then encourage everyone to think outside of the box to make positive changes at work.

Develop ERG Members Into Successful Workplace Leaders

ERGs are great incubators of in-house talent. You’ve probably seen a ton of potential in current ERG leaders and members. As an executive sponsor, you have the ability to hone this talent.

Try these activities:

  • Work with other executive sponsors to create an in-house leadership symposium to cultivate and find future workplace leaders.
  • Have great ERG leaders shadow company executives and senior managers for a day/week.
  • Build an in-house training program to fill open leadership positions and encourage ERG leaders to apply.
  • Bring new manager-level jobs up to ERG leaders who might be interested.

When you reach out about these opportunities, you give employees a chance to see themselves taking on those larger roles. Some of your employees might not see themselves climbing the corporate ladder, but your connection can give them the confidence to do it.

Help Plan and Budget for ERG Activities

Last but not least, you can help employee resource groups plan and budget for the activities they want to host.

Help resource group leaders think outside the box and encourage them to join groups like the Global ERG Network to find unique events to hold at the company.

Once they have some ideas in mind, you can help them plan how the event will work at your organization and secure funding for the events they want to hold.

An effective executive sponsor should help groups see the bigger picture and get their events funded the right way. You can help them pick budget-friendly venues/experiences so they can take full advantage of whatever budget they are given for events.

Conclusion: Be a Supportive Voice for ERGs

At the end of the day, the executive sponsor’s role is simple: be a supportive voice for the ERG you are helping.

It can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, especially since your role changes depending on the company budget, ERG leaders, and how company leadership feels.

Being an executive sponsor can be challenging because you never know how your role might change over time. So roll with the punches and try to be the most supportive leader you can be.

Are you ready to see how Workrowd can help you with your company’s employee resource groups? Send us a message at hello@workrowd.com to see if we are right for your team.

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7 tips for setting employee experience goals that drive impact

As your team grows, it’s important to think about how workers perceive your organization. Setting employee experience goals helps you improve retention, which is essential for the true growth of your organization.

Today, we want to go over the basics of employee experience and how to set up goals to measure it at your company.

Looking for some actionable ways to improve the employee experience? Check out our article that shares five easy strategies your organization can use.

What Is Employee Experience?

First, let’s cover the basics. What is employee experience exactly? Employee experience is the way that your team members perceive your organization and their role in it.

In an ideal world, your team members would have a positive employee experience, meaning they are happy at work, feel included, and can do great things while working with your organization.

Unfortunately, many team members don’t get a positive experience. According to HR Daily Advisor, “only 17% of respondents say their employer offers an “exceptional” experience.”

Organizations have a long way to go before more employees rate their experience highly.

7 Employee Experience Goal Setting Tips

So, now that you know what employee experience is and where most organizations stand, how do you ensure your organization does well? First, you’ll want to create some employee experience goals.

1. Get Clear on Why Employee Experience Matters to Your Organization

Before you start setting goals, you need to get clear on why employee experience matters. There are many initiatives that you might choose to focus on as an HR leader. Why are you choosing to improve the employee experience?

Getting clear on your ‘why’ will help you justify the costs of these initiatives to other leaders on your team. Understanding what goals you need to set and going after those initiatives takes money and time. The positive effect of those goals might not be seen for a quarter or two. You need a great plan in place to justify the costs of this endeavor.

So, why should organizations care about employee experience? Simple: it improves retention.

2. Take Stock of the Current Employee Experience

Before you can set any goals, you need to know what’s currently happening in your company. Therefore, we encourage you to set aside some time to work on the following activities:

  • Send out an employee experience or engagement survey like Gallup’s Q12 survey.
  • Perform exit interviews for any employee leaving your organization.
  • Chat with new hires about how they perceive the employee experience.
  • Connect with other leaders to uncover any gaps they’ve noticed in your company’s employee experience.

After you’ve done some analysis, you should better understand where your team currently stands. With this information, you have a baseline, and you can work to improve things from there.

3. Work With Employees to Define Their Ideal Experience

Next, you’ll want to move into working with current employees to understand their ideal experience.

If they could work at a perfect organization, what would their relationship with the company look like?

Do you want to make this even more helpful? Consider surveying your organization by department and as one unit. Different departments might have unique ways of working. When understanding an ideal employee experience, it might be worth it to understand each department’s unique challenges and triumphs.

4. Connect With Company Leaders to Define Their Ideal Experience

After you chat with employees, you should do the same with company leaders. Leaders must have an ideal experience as the head of a department or team.

Company leaders have a big picture understanding of the organization’s weaknesses and strengths. The best part about company leaders is they can give you a better understanding of the current state of your organization and help you set more realistic goals.

5. Combine the Two and Make It All Actionable

After you speak with employees and leaders, it’s time to combine both ideal experiences to create something actionable for your company.

You can work using the SMART goals method, which encourages you to create goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

The aspects of this method you’ll need to pay close attention to are attainable and time-bound. Employee experience change doesn’t happen overnight. So you need to break down your larger experience goals into smaller, attainable chunks that have set deadlines.

For example, instead of saying, “I want to be the best employer in my geographic area,” you could say, “I want to be recognized in my area with a Best Places To Work award by the end of 2024.”

Taking a few moments to dig deeper and research your goals will make them better for HR and company leaders.

6. Present Your Latest Employee Experience Goals and How You Plan to Achieve Them

Once you have a set of goals, it’s time to share them. Let your team know what they are and what your plans are for achieving them.

If you need some help explaining your goals, you could bring in some of the bigger picture items you were brainstorming.

To follow the example we gave above, “We want to be the best employer in town, so we want to win the city’s Best Places To Work award by the end of 2024, and we’ll do this by…”

Your team needs to know your game plan so they can follow your lead and accomplish the goals you set. The more detailed your goals are, the easier they are to follow.

7. Follow Up to Ensure That Employee Experience Goals Are Being Met

It’s easy to let goals collect dust after you’ve shared them. A famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry states, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Your team needs to make a plan and follow through on it.

You can do this by setting up milestones for your goals and adding designated goal check-in dates on your calendar. Be sure to keep your team up to date on progress and encourage them to check in with you and keep you honest.

Conclusion: Set Your Company’s Employee Experience Today

Employee experience takes time to turn around, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start today. Use this article as a jumping-off point to discuss how you will improve your organization’s experience at work.

Are you ready to use Workrowd when planning your organization’s employee experience? Reach out to us at hello@workrowd.com to see if we’re right for your team.

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10 strategies to boost employee wellness and mental health

Employee wellness and mental health are essential for the strength of your workplace. It’s hard to analyze the true cost of illness and absenteeism at work, but it’s safe to say that it costs companies billions annually.

As you are looking for ways to support your staff members, we will go over ten strategies that can help your organization thrive.

1. Purchase Health Insurance for Your Staff Members

First, one of the easiest ways to support employee wellness and mental health is insurance.

When picking insurance, you need to be careful about the plan and carrier you decide to go with. Unfortunately, not all companies are made the same. Some have high deductibles and confusing language that make it hard to find care.

Take your time when picking plans. Make sure that your team has plenty of options to choose from. Also make sure that you cover some of the expenses associated with insurance. Many organizations cover 70-100% of employee insurance costs.

2. Offer an HSA to Employees

Next, you could offer an HSA or Health Savings Account.

An HSA is an account that your employees can sign up for. With an HSA, employees can put a small amount of their paycheck away pre-tax, and they can spend their savings throughout the year on covered medical expenses.

As a benefit, you could offer $100+ monthly and give your team members the ability to contribute more if they’d like to do so. These contributions can then be used to cover expenses as they pop up.

Employees with HSAs are more likely to use preventive care services like flu shots and mammograms than those without one.

3. Do Group Workout Classes

Another way to improve employee wellness and mental health is to offer group workout classes in your office.

You can easily work with an employee who teaches a workout like yoga or Zumba (or you can hire a teacher to come in a few times per week.) Encourage staff members to take a break for thirty minutes and work out together.

If you have a hybrid workplace (or you work from home), you could find an easy workout on YouTube or purchase access to a workout application for your team members. From there, you could encourage your team to take 30 minutes a few times per week to work out and share the workouts they are doing with their colleagues.

4. Provide Mental Health and Sick Days

Next, companies need to provide mental health and sick days for employees. Sometimes our staff members need a few days off to take care of themselves, their mental health, or even their families.

When providing sick days, encourage your team to seek a doctor’s help, but don’t require it. Unfortunately, organizations often think requiring a doctor’s visit is essential.

For instance, your team member may call out sick because they have a bit of a fever and cough. While they could go to the doctor, chances are they have a cold. Doctor’s visits aren’t cheap, so we should trust employees if they are within their sick day limits.

Your staff should feel comfortable asking for a mental health day as well. Sometimes we have to focus on ourselves to have something to give other people.

5. Create a Monthly Wellness Challenge

People love a good challenge. Challenges encourage people to work together or make a positive impact on their own mental and/or physical health.

Here are 16 challenge ideas you can participate in as an organization:

  • Water Intake
  • Yoga
  • Healthy Eating
  • Financial Wellness
  • Journaling
  • Running/Walking
  • Reading
  • Social Media Detox
  • 10,000 Daily Steps
  • Habit Tracking
  • Getting Good Sleep
  • Meditation
  • Decluttering
  • Gratitude
  • Recognition
  • Taking Time Off

Pick a monthly challenge and let your team know how they can participate in the challenge. Then, in order to get people excited, offer an incentive for any person or team who wins the challenge.

6. Send Reminders About Important Health Activities

Health screenings like getting a mammogram, dental cleanings, eye exams, and annual physicals are essential for staff members.

Encourage your team to keep up with preventative care by including reminders in your company’s newsletter or community.

Preventative care measures are often well-covered by health insurance companies because it means you take your health and wellness seriously.

7. Create a Health-Conscious Workplace Community

Community is an important part of deciding to be healthy. We can learn so much from each other. Therefore, organizations should invest in the power of community.

For instance, you could use a tool like Workrowd to host several health-conscious workplace communities.

Your team members could create an interesting community around the type of exercise they like to do or one that focuses on mental health in the workplace. Inside those communities, your teams could plan fun events or share their favorite resources with other employees.

Encourage team members to band together to find growth opportunities.

8. Encourage Employees With an Office Stipend

Next, let’s discuss the importance of having a great office to work in. We spend hours every day inside of our offices. The office needs to feel like an excellent place to work, whether we work from home or go into a physical building.

One way to make office life appealing is by offering a stipend to get the best office supplies. For example, office furniture like a standing desk can get our staff members to stand up more throughout the day, which is great for health.

Encourage staff members to take the stipend to purchase office furniture and supplies that encourage healthy movement.

9. Talk About Your Mental and Physical Health

Employees learn what is appropriate by watching their supervisors. We can encourage our employees to look after their own mental and physical health by addressing our own issues and wins in the workplace.

If you have a bad mental health day, don’t be afraid to take the day off and share why you did it with your staff members. When they see you take time for yourself, they’ll be more likely to do it too.

10. Put Effort Into Improving Work/Life Balance

Work/life balance is essential. Are you or your team consistently taking work home or responding to emails on the weekend? Employees model your behavior, so make sure that you are taking the time to be a good example.

For instance, you can:

  • Respond to emails on the weekend, but schedule them to go out on Monday.
  • Take longer vacations where you are gone for a week or more and stay unplugged.
  • Take a mental health or sick day when you need one.

Employee Wellness and Mental Health Can Be Simple

Our employees look up to us and model our behavior. We have to make employee wellness and mental health as simple as possible so that our team members can follow our lead. Take your time and provide resources to staff members, so they know they aren’t alone.

Workrowd can be a wonderful ally to your organization as you focus on employee wellbeing. If you want to see Workrowd in action, send us an email at hello@workrowd.com to see if our community-building software is right for your organization.

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Top employee engagement trends of 2021 so far

As we get further into the year, we’re seeing a number of employee engagement trends in 2021. As the mood of the country shifts, organizations should be dedicating time to boosting engagement amongst their employees.

How will you keep staff members excited about continuing to work with your company?

Let’s start by going over the top 8 employee engagement trends you should be thinking about in 2021.

1. Figuring Out How to Work With Remote/Hybrid Workforces

First, let’s discuss hybrid and remote work. Engaging a workforce that’s located all over the country (or the world) can be difficult.

As an organization leader, your job should be finding ways to improve work relationships in and outside of the office.

Remote workers want to feel involved, even as your office reopens. Make sure you take the time to ensure all employees feel valued, even if you see certain employees more often.

2. Having Compassion for Caretakers

Caretakers have gone through a great deal as the pandemic rages on.

For example, working parents have been dealing with a lot of issues. One instance of this is that many schools that have gone back to in-person education have sent students and teachers home sick.

Currently, caretakers are facing a lot of stress and flux in and outside of the workplace.

To keep employees engaged, managers need to have empathy and concern for employees in charge of caretaking. Compassion is such an important behavior as your workers may live a different life than you.

3. Focusing on Diversity & Inclusion

Diversity & inclusion continues to be an important part of workplace culture. One of the most diverse generations, Gen Z, is starting to become a larger part of the workplace conversation.

As these employees join your team, take on leadership positions, and excel at work, your organization needs to keep up with these workers. For example, you might want to read up on becoming an ally in the workplace or empowering your managers to drive DEI.

Whatever you can do to research and make new employees feel welcome is great for your business.

4. Understanding Recognition in the Workplace

If you’ve been keeping up with HR news, you might have heard of The Great Resignation. Employees are feeling discontented, and they are ready to move on to bigger and better career opportunities.

Employees want to feel supported and appreciated by managers and colleagues. One of the best ways to do this is to recognize staff members for their hard work.

Many organizations spend hours planning grand end-of-the-year ceremonies to recognize staff. Instead of focusing on one large event, spend time recognizing employees for all of the small things they do for your team.

5. Supporting Employee Health

It’s no surprise that health is so essential for staff members in 2021. COVID-19 has been impacting us for well over a year, and it has shown no signs of stopping.

Employers who invest in their staff members’ physical and mental health are showing employees how much they care.

Focus on providing all of the important health benefits like insurance and sick days. You can also listen to employee concerns on things like returning to the office or having company get-togethers. Employees need to feel like their opinions matter right now.

6. Hosting an Employee Engagement Survey

Speaking of validating employee opinions, consider hosting an employee engagement survey like the Gallup Q12.

With so much happening worldwide, it’s important to catch up with what your employees are thinking (while you can still work to fix things with them.)

Employers have spent so much of the last year putting out fires at work. Now, employers need to move on to preventative measures, so they aren’t always going from one emergency to the next. When is the last time you preemptively asked an employee how they were doing? If you can’t remember, now is the time.

7. Taking a New Look at Employee Compensation

As employees move to different states and work from places that excite them, organizations need to look at compensation.

How do you plan to handle payments when some of your staff live in cheaper places? Some companies have decided to pay some employees less, but that isn’t always the right answer.

As an organization leader, you have to make sure that compensation feels fair and competitive with similar organizations in your industry.

Spend some time connecting with other managers and staff members. Should location impact worker compensation? What would happen if everyone got paid the same amount? How would remote workers feel if they got paid less?

Employers need to have a full picture of how pay impacts work before deciding on compensation changes.

8. Producing an Internal Communication Plan

Internal communication is an essential building block of a successfully engaged hybrid team. Your employees need to know when to use different communication tools and how/when they can expect information from leadership.

Take some time to decide which communication tools you intend to use and what purpose they serve. For example, you could use a tool like Workrowd to host all of your employee resource groups. Go through all of your tools and describe when their use is appropriate.

As teams become more dispersed, tools like company newsletters become even more essential. If this is an engagement technique you want to use, it takes time to plan and execute.

Overall, you want to make sure that everyone knows what they can expect from leaders daily/weekly/monthly/etc. If you aren’t sure, it’s time to sit down and produce a plan that everyone on your team can follow.

Following Employee Engagement Trends in 2021

Employee engagement is an ever-changing field. Every year new trends emerge based on what’s happening inside and outside of the workplace. Leaders need to keep up with these trends so that employees feel engaged and ready to work.

The cost of disengaged employees can be astronomical, and organizations thrive when more staff members are excited to work every day. Are you looking for a simple way to improve engagement? Consider an employee engagement program.

While you are thinking about employee engagement trends for 2021, you can consider a tool like Workrowd to help you host your first employee resource group. Send us an email at hello@workrowd.com to see if we are right for your team.