1.1 Background of the Study
Employee network groups have evolved from participative management strategies that gained popularity more than three decades ago. During the 1980s, terms such as employee involvement and quality circles became widespread in American corporations, aiming to engage employees through participative management techniques. Quality circles were introduced as projects to enhance productivity (Dewar, 1980).
The primary purpose behind their establishment was to create a more efficient organization (Lawler, 1986) and to foster the concept of involving employees in the planning process and soliciting their input on business initiatives, as a more effective approach to managing the organization (Sashkin, 1984). However, the term quality circles is not as commonly used in present-day organizations, and there is limited current research available on the subject. The use of the term quality circles began to decline in the early 1990s. More recent studies have introduced terms like affinity groups, employee network groups, or employee resource groups, which are considered advancements from the quality circle concepts and share similar supporting methodologies (Van Aken et al.,1994).
Employee resource groups, also known as ERGs, are alternatively referred to as employee affinity groups, business resource groups, or employee networks. These groups serve as valuable support systems for employees, providing opportunities for networking, community volunteering, and active involvement in shaping strategic business initiatives. Additionally, ERGs create a safe space where each community can freely exchange ideas without the fear of encountering resistance (Connelly and Kelloway 2003).
Moreover, ERGs play a crucial role in enhancing the social integration of minority employees within the workplace. They facilitate increased opportunities for mentoring, networking, and the development of cross-racial social connections (Friedman and Holtom, 2002). Both minority employees and organizations can derive significant benefits from fostering an environment that fosters the growth and success of ERGs.
According to McGrath and Sparks (2005), affinity groups such as ERGs play a significant role in fostering social capital. These groups serve as informal channels and networks within the company, offering members valuable opportunities to share information, provide diverse perspectives on strategic initiatives, solve problems, and identify emerging opportunities.
However, it is important to note that not all employee resource groups provide the necessary opportunities for establishing connections and networking that can lead to professional advancement or stronger social systems within the workplace (Reed, 2011). As defined by Rodriguez (2008), the most effective employee resource groups are those that align their goals and objectives with the overall business objectives of the organization.
Employee resource groups are often created based on social identities such as race or gender, typically originating as grassroots initiatives by employees rather than being imposed by the employer (Friedman, 1999). However, it is evident that race and gender do not solely define the basis of similarity. In certain instances, employees may perceive colleagues performing the same job as more similar, irrespective of whether they share the same race or gender but perform different roles (Brass, 1985).
Employee resource groups are recognized as clusters of relationships that contribute to the formation of social systems within the informal structure of an organization, and they can significantly impact performance (Van Aken et al., 1994). Human resources are undeniably crucial assets for organizations as they play a key role in attaining a competitive edge over industry rivals.
Consequently, the performance of employees holds great importance for twenty-first-century organizations, as it empowers them to effectively compete in a dynamic environment alongside other organizations (Watetu, 2017). Robin (1998), as referenced by M'Mbui (2011), suggests that performance can be influenced by various factors, including individual personality, instilled values, attitudes, and competence.
These factors encompass how individuals perceive things and their level of motivation. However, it has been noted that biographical characteristics such as age, gender, marital status, and seniority level do not necessarily provide accurate and reliable indicators for improving employee achievements and job satisfaction.
Nonetheless, this study aims to investigate the influence of employee resource groups on employee performance, specifically focusing on Total Energies.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Considering the perceived or actual value derived from employee resource groups (Jackson, 2009), it becomes crucial to reassess the role of these groups within organizations from the perspective of their members. Employee performance holds significant importance in the overall success of a company, as accomplishing major goals necessitates a motivated team working collaboratively (Leonard, 2019).
Despite the increasing acknowledgment of the significance of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in organizations, there exists a notable research gap regarding their impact on employee performance within Total Energies. Total Energies is a large-scale multi-energy company engaged in the production and distribution of oil, biofuels, natural gas, green gases, renewables, and electricity. With a workforce exceeding 100,000 employees as of December 31, 2021, and representation from nearly 160 nationalities, the company encompasses a wide array of professions across production, sales, marketing, and support functions (740+ professions). Given the size and diversity of the Total Energies workforce, understanding how ERGs affect employee performance is of significant importance.
1.3 Aim of the Study
The aim of this study is to examine the impact of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) on employee performance within the context of Total Energies.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of the study are as follows:
1. To assess the existence and functioning of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within Total Energies.
2. To examine the relationship between ERG participation and employee performance.
1.5 Research Questions
The study will address the following research questions:
1. What is the status of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) within Total Energies?
2. What is the relationship between ERG participation and employee performance?
1.6 Research Hypothesis
The study will test the following hypothesis:
H0: There is no significant relationship between ERG participation and employee performance.
H1: There is a significant relationship between ERG participation and employee performance.
1.7 Justification of the Study
This study is justified by the need to fill the research gap regarding the impact of ERGs on employee performance. By conducting a case study in the context of Total Energies, the study will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of ERGs in enhancing employee performance within a specific organizational setting. The findings will contribute to the existing body of knowledge on ERGs and their implications for organizational performance and employee well-being.
1.8 Scope of the Study
The study will focus on examining the impact of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) on employee performance within Total Energies. The research will be conducted among employees at various levels and across different departments of the organization. The study will primarily utilize primary data collected through surveys, interviews, and observations to gather comprehensive insights.