We all have been part of groups, clubs or societies in college and school. Generally, such groups come together because the members have common interests. During school and college it provided a great opportunity to bond with other like-minded students.
Organisations are now creating similar groups, clubs and societies for its employees. These small groups seem to be doing wonders in achieving the diversity and inclusion agenda.
At GE capital, employees have a group called ‘book-reading club’. On the last Friday of each month, for two hours, the employees who were part of the reading club, come together to read a book.
The Indigo Airlines’ employees in Mumbai have a football club and those in Delhi, have a cricket club. There is also an Indigo Premier League for cricket and the tournament is organised by the employees.
“The benefits of such employee groups are many. There is cross functional understanding of work, relationships are built, bureaucracy and red tapism declines. Overall there is an improvement in productivity”
The role of HR is to facilitate, take care of logistics and also bring in a sponsor.
Raj Raghavan, senior vice-president & head HR, Indigo Airlines, says, “The benefits of such employee groups are many. There is cross functional understanding of work, relationships are built, bureaucracy and red tapism declines. Overall there is an improvement in productivity.”
Such groups help employees to bond with others who share common interests. Thus, they help in fostering inclusiveness in organisations and drive forward the diversity goals. They also help increase belongingness amongst the employees.
In addition, these groups also result in employee retention, increased productivity and raise the overall satisfaction level of existing employees.
Rajorshi Ganguly, president and global HR head, Alkem Laboratories, says, “Such informal groups are also a safety net for people who look for emotional support at work. People find value in these groups which is why they come together.”
Having a colleague who shares the same interest or preference can be pillar of support for anybody facing a tough time at work or personal life.
These employee clubs also have an important role to play in workplaces, where five generations work together. It increases bonding across generations over common interest areas.
“Such informal groups are also a safety net for people who look for emotional support at work. People find value in these groups which is why they come together”
However, the companies need to be not only cautious but also ensure that at no point should these clubs take a political turn. At times, these groups can be highly unpredictable and affect the operations. The HR has to ensure that informal groups must always be submissive in nature and their goals shouldn’t ever conflict with the organisational goals.
This is why it is important to set some guidelines for these employee clubs and monitor the activities from a distance.
The groups are formed through personal likings and interests. However, in course of time, the bonding between the members increase and they act as a socio-psychological support for each other. In such case, if one member of the group is fired or pulled up for non-performance, the other members may rebel in support of the member.
Biplob Banerjee, CPO, ABD, “The informal groups have to be watched carefully from a distance. The presence of senior employees in such groups can prevent overly passionate elements from derailing the organisation’s purpose in organising activities.”
When there is a group, there is also a leader, the leader may be formally appointed or informally become one. However, a leader can influence the behaviour of other members for good or bad.
Organisations need to ensure that a parity is maintained and each group within the company gets equally opportunity to voice itself, so that it can become a truly inclusive environment and no one feels left out.