How Resource Groups Can Impact Your Bottom Line

“Employees involved in resource groups are significantly more engaged than those who are not,” says Raymond Arroyo, chief diversity officer at Aetna.


For the past two years, the Hartford, Conn.based health insurer has been asking its 34,000 employees to fill out an Employee Engagement Survey to determine, among other things, the business impact of Aetna’s 15 resource groups, ranging from gender and racial/ethnic to generational and veterans.

What the research confirmed: Members of Aetna’s resource groups had a more favorable outlook overall than non-memberstheir engagement scores were 8 percent higher than those who were not resource-group members.

“Our resource-groupmembers are more satisfied, have more pride in the company, rate managers higher and are less likely to leave,” says Arroyo.

Resource Groups: A Talent Retention Tool

As the job market slowly begins to pick up and employee turnover gains greater importance, Aetna’s findings come as welcome news.

The survey: Aetna collected data in 2009 on 33,246 employees, which were divided into resource-group member/non-member categories and then further segmented into more than 24 demographic groups and internal business units, such as underwriting and claims.

The survey posed a series of questions that asked employees to rate the company in 13 key areas: engagement, collaboration, customer focus, diversity, ethics, innovation, job, manager effectiveness, pay/benefits, respect/openness, strategy/future, work balance and work effectiveness/productivity. Survey sample questions include:

  • “I rarely think about looking for a new job with another company” (engagement)
  • “The culture at Aetna encourages diversity perspectives and ideas” (diversity)
  • “When discussions are made or actions are taken in my department, the ethical implications are adequately considered” (ethics)
  • “Sufficient effort is made to get the opinions and thinking of people who work here” (innovation)
  • “How satisfied are you with your opportunity to get a better job at Aetna” (job)
  • “The behavior of our leadership team is consistent with Aetna’s values” (manager effectiveness)
  • “The leadership of Aetna has communicated a vision of the future that motivates me” (strategy)
  • “Decisions in my department are made in a timely fashion” (work effectiveness)

The results: Among respondents to the survey, resource-group members consistently scored higher than non-members. Looking at the aggregate data, areas with the greatest difference between member/non-member responses were:

  • employee engagement (86 percent for resource-group members versus 78 percent for non-members)
  • respect (82 percent versus 74 percent)
  • strategy (88 percent versus 81 percent)
  • customer focus (85 percent versus 78 percent)

Even in the area of diversity, which scored the highest of Aetna’s survey questions, 90 percent of resource-group members scored favorable, compared with 87 percent of non-members.

Year-to-year results: When comparing 2009 responses to those from 2008, Aetna found:

  • Employee engagement is up across the company, increasing from 73 percent in 2008 to 80 percent in 2009 for all employees
  • Resource-group member engagement is increasing dramatically. In 2008, 71 percent of resource-group members reported feeling engaged. One year later that number jumped to 86 percenta 15 percentage point increase.
  • Resource-group member engagement is outpacing non-members. In 2009, 78 percent of non-members were engaged, up from 73 percent the year before, only one-third the increase (5 percentage points) compared with resource-group members (15).

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