Quick Summary: Does your organization have employee resource groups (ERGs)? These are circles of employees based on ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disabilities, or other commonalities. If so, then gear your health education materials toward wellness issues of importance to those groups. Such efforts reap benefits for the ERG, your company, and the community at large.
Let’s face it: Our health concerns vary. Women may want information on breast and ovarian cancer, while people 50-plus wonder about arthritis and glaucoma. Your company can provide valuable health information that’s targeted toward specific demographic groups.
Employee resource groups have emerged in the American workplace in response to a growing commitment to diversity. For instance, Texas Instruments has 16 groups in its TI Diversity Network, ranging from the Bangladeshi Diversity Initiative to the Women’s Initiative Networks.
“ERGs give voice to important ideas within particular groups. In doing so, they support the goals of the larger organization and the community,” says Tasnim Benhalim, founder of Dallas-based DiversityWealth, which helps companies create environments where all employees flourish.
As you craft targeted wellness messages for affinity groups, consider how those messages can benefit not only ERGs, but the entire company and the community at large.
Tap into employee resource groups by:
- Creating e-newsletters for ERGs that provide the latest health news and information. For instance, provide your Women’s Network with facts on digital mammography and your Single Parents Network with updates on childhood immunizations.
- Adding a resource page on your corporate intranet with links to such health-diverse organizations as the American Heart Association, the National Women’s Health Network, the Black AIDS Institute, the Alzheimer’s Association, and others of relevance to your workforce.
Touch the entire company by:
- Holding health seminars on global topics with sessions aimed at specific issues that may appeal to your firm’s ERGs. For example, a seminar on brain health could feature break-out sessions on attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, dementia, and diets that promote brain health.
- Displaying prevention tips for a variety of conditions in your cafeteria or breakroom. Each month, hang a poster with advice on how to prevent asthma, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, depression, and other health issues.
Reach out to the local community by:
- Participating in area fundraisers. Every community has 5Ks and fun walks to support research for diseases and conditions ranging from AIDS to SIDS. Encourage your ERGs to form teams, promote participation throughout the company, design T-shirts with the company name, and hit the road!
- Sponsoring health fairs open to the community. Help your ERGs compile information, create displays, and hold events to educate your corporate and community neighbors.
- Identify possible groups within your company with similar health interests.
- Hold a series of focus groups with employees who might represent employee resource groups (ERGs) to get input on how to best communicate with them, recommends Terry Howard, diversity director at Texas Instruments.
- Review your communication materials for discrimination. Don’t assume that certain topics only apply to one group. For instance, everyone benefits from AIDS prevention information, not just the Gay and Lesbian Network.
- Assign a contact person within the HR department to whom ERGs can turn for resources on health and wellness issues.
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