Business Resource Groups (BRGs) play an important role in many large organizations, including Highmark’s. Also known as Employee Resource Groups, Business Networking Groups, or Business Affinity Groups, BRGs bring together and provide support to employees who share characteristics — such as race and ethnicity, gender and/or sexual orientation — or who share certain interests, like volunteering or protecting the environment.
BRGs can have a wide range of purposes and activities, but often they focus on areas like career development, professional networking, and issues related to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. At Highmark, BRGs serve as an inclusive network and are guided under corporate sponsorship. Additionally, BRGs:
Highmark BRGs include:
We’ll be profiling each BRG and its members here on Highmark’s blog. In this first profile, let’s take a closer look at GenNEXT.
What’s interesting about Highmark’s GenNEXT BRG is that it doesn’t focus on any single generation. Instead, GenNEXT focuses on how different generations can best join together in the workplace.
The group was founded in 2012 and has about 50 members. Many members are in their 20s and 30s, but group leaders Stephen Hunter, Rachel English, Megan Sullivan and Brandie Baughman are eager to dispel the belief that the group is focused only on that, or any other, age group. They emphasize that GenNEXT’s activities and events typically have value and appeal for Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials (sometimes referred to as Generation Y) alike.
As an example, Hunter, the site representative for GenNEXT in Pittsburgh, pointed to the group’s mentoring events, which are hosted yearly during or around National Mentoring Month, which is January. The events give employees of all ages an opportunity for informal networking, in addition to a structured, mentor/mentee “speed-networking” activity involving Highmark leadership.
In speed networking, groups of mentees sit with each executive for 20 minutes to talk about predefined topics such as overcoming barriers/challenges in the workplace, developing an elevator pitch, and personal branding. When the 20 minutes expire, the mentees move to the next table to discuss the next topic with another manager.
According to English, the current chair of GenNEXT, past mentoring events have had attendance of more than 100 people and have been well-received. “Participants have noted that they enjoyed how the atmosphere was relaxed, and that they could ask the difficult questions that they don’t often get to ask of vice presidents or presidents about how they got where they are today and what they’re looking for in an employee,” she says.
She adds that large events like this are just part of GenNEXT’s focus. The BRG also creates smaller, more personalized events to help people grow in their career, such as a recent career coaching event called “Generations in the Workplace.”
“Career coaching is another area that GenNEXT has been focusing on recently, including seminars touching on interviewing, resume writing, and how to network,” she says. “The ‘Generations in the Workplace’ seminar will help employees from different generations to interact better with one another. Part of it is discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each generation and their differing expectations. That’s the starting point for finding the best way to communicate with different generations, so that you meet their needs and communicate with them in the way that they prefer.”
As English points out, the group’s approach and overall mission make it an attractive BRG for a wide range of employees. When asked who should consider joining GenNEXT, she replies, “Any employee who is looking to meet new people, or get more exposure to people from other departments, and wants to grow their career and expand networking opportunities within Highmark.” On the professional development side, the BRG also offers valuable connections to internal career coaching, e-mentoring workshops, and other resources.
Community service is another important aspect of GenNEXT’s activities, and one of the ways that the BRG connects with the people it wants to serve — both inside and outside the workplace.
As the BRG’s Community Events Chair, Baughman is responsible for facilitating volunteer opportunities, including working with Highmark’s Community Affairs department to organize events around causes such as Adopt-a-Family and Junior Achievement. Such opportunities allow GenNEXT (and Highmark) to stay active and visible in the community and make additional connections with members.
“Community is one area that I think we could make a big impact,” English says. “I’d love to see us get even more involved in community projects to show people that we care, and that we are more than a BRG that focuses on professional growth. It’d be great to get more of our members involved with the community aspects of GenNEXT, which would allow us to then develop more events and activities in that area in the future.” (If you’re a Highmark employee or contractor, be sure to check the sidebar of this article for more information on how you can get involved!)
If you have a member service question that involves personal health or insurance information, do not use the "comments" feature; please call the number on the back of your Member ID card.