There is no doubt that the HR function has a big job on its hands; helping organisations deliver corporate strategy and objectives – through recruiting, coaching, developing individuals with individual drives and needs, navigating complex legislation, and keeping people engaged and performing. We have faced great resignation and research suggests that one of the most significant areas of change driving people to leave their jobs is wellbeing and work-life balance. McKinsey is now deeming it the great ‘renegotiation’, however, it’s about more than money. People want their jobs to be fulfilling. They want to be their true selves at work and know they are appreciated. Giving people a voice, listening, and acting on what they say is more important than ever.

One way to do this is through Employee Network Groups (ENG), which is a group of people passionate about a particular cause, providing a functional, strategic tool for giving employees a voice, advancing diversity initiatives, and improving recruitment and retention. ENGs are a powerful way to celebrate, unite, and highlight employees from all different backgrounds, and engage allies in this journey. They help give employees a sense of belonging.

For us, launching ENGs off the back of the pandemic was received with great enthusiasm. People had been away from work and were keen to be involved in and connected to something they feel passionate about. The pandemic provided a revived sense of purpose for many, alongside the desire to make a real difference. Now, 18 months on and back into the full swing of work, we are faced with the challenge of maintaining this strong momentum.

Employee Network Groups: Where To Next?

Take a moment to revisit the purpose of each ENG. Make sure they hold the balance between the needs of the business and employees. Cementing inclusivity at the heart of your company culture authentically and legitimately will encourage engagement with ENGs. This means ensuring employees feel a sense of belonging, connection, and most importantly, respect. Let us also not forget where we came from. It is important to celebrate the achievements and changes driven by ENGs with the so-called bottom-up approach as a reminder of the significant impact these groups can have.

“ENGs are a powerful way to celebrate, unite, and highlight employees from all different backgrounds, and engage allies in this journey. They help give employees a sense of belonging”

Your ENG members are role models to others who are keen to participate. Find ways to consistently provide gratitude and acknowledgement for those dedicated employees contributing their time and effort. Whether through activities, awareness, education, networking, policy change, insights, or feedback, ENGs provide a safe space for employees to share ideas, raise concerns, connect with like-minded individuals, or simply be heard.

Appreciating the input of everyone is critical. Trust and empower your people to work at a level they determine and that reflects their passions. At AEG Europe we have seen some amazing initiatives driven by our people for our people, that are supported wholeheartedly by our senior leadership. Many of these initiatives continue to grow and evolve and have become part of the fabric of our company.

Five things to consider before embarking on ENG:

- Provide a clear framework setting out what is expected;

- Allow ENGs to be organic and give them autonomy within this framework;

- Have executive sponsors and members who are passionate about the cause;

- Don’t underestimate the time investment of ENG members – find ways to demonstrate the company’s appreciation of this;

- Communicate well to engage others and keep the momentum going.