By Maurice Kimsey II, Account Executive, Omaha Public Power District
Employee resource groups can be a benefit to more than the employees who make up their membership. These groups can help companies to recruit and develop talent, as well as further company growth. Employee groups are about advancing a company’s most valuable asset, its people, which can help them be a stronger resource for the company, the community, and fellow employees.
Omaha Public Power District has five employee resource groups — the African American Network, Young Professionals Group, Society of Engineers, Women’s Network, and the Veterans Network. The first group to form was the young professionals network, which started 10 years ago, and the veterans network is just now getting off the ground. Some of the groups were started by OPPD leadership and some by frontline employees.
Each group consists of a president, vice president, communications chair, development chair, secretary, and treasurer. Each role is committed to the success and sustainability of the group, whether by keeping members informed, holding networking or community events, fundraising, or other programs.
The groups bring value to the company because they help OPPD achieve its strategic initiatives and honor our core values. OPPD is transforming as a business and the groups can help us get to where we need to be. Group members participate in focus groups to offer their candid feedback about company changes. They offer solutions that are favorable to the employees and help OPPD accomplish its goals.
Groups bring training and educational opportunities to employees. They help employees learn industry benchmarks, generate new ideas, and think about ways to improve the company. Companies can thus move toward best practices and potentially avoid the cost of bringing in consultants to develop or implement new ideas.
Groups add value to the community because they have members who are actively involved in inspiring youth to succeed. Members come from the same neighborhoods as the students they mentor. Members help students build confidence that they can succeed as well.
Group members benefit from the leadership, networking, and development opportunities and can prepare for potential management openings. Many group leaders have earned promotions within the company because they can showcase their talent and build relations with senior leadership. All group members get face-time with OPPD senior management. Group members get opportunities to polish resumes and interview skills and make presentations to our youth on how OPPD generates, transmits, and distributes electricity to our customer owners.
Want to start an employee group? First research what other companies do and how their groups have been successful. This helps you choose the direction for your group and have a plan and model for group operations when you ask your company’s senior leaders for approval and buy-in. Identify the additional movers and shakers within your organization who can help the group launch successfully. These people must be dependable individuals who can both lead and follow.
Start today, empowering your employees can bring many benefits.