Turning up to your first day to little more than a handshake and login details is a disheartening experience. Swap this with being welcomed by a friendly face to guide you through your first weeks and you’ll likely have a spring in your step.
A buddy system is a fundamental part of onboarding done well. It’s an opportunity to ‘wow’ new hires, encourage valuable connections within teams, and safeguard the administrative side of integrating a new employee.
So what exactly are the benefits of a buddy system at work? And how does a personal approach complement the practical aspects of bringing on a new hire to the team?
Did you know having a ‘work bff’ is said to make people 60% more likely to want to go to work? Considering that the average person spends 90 000 hours working in a lifetime, that’s not something to take lightly.
So how do you as an employer ensure that your employees have the opportunity to form valuable connections with their colleagues? Hint: it starts at onboarding.
Besides feelings of excitement, beginning a new job can be an uncomfortable, stressful, and at times, isolating experience. While there’s a lot to get sorted in the first weeks, as an employer you’ll want to make sure you're providing a human touch alongside the practicalities of onboarding.
Setting up an onboarding buddy system is the foolproof way to add a personal element to an otherwise routine process. In doing so, you can help ensure your new employee feels supported and comfortable from day one.
Not only will a buddy provide new hires with a human connection as they get settled, they will also act as a key link to other colleagues in the team. Whether introductions are made over lunch or during a social event, having a person to connect new employees to their new colleagues will help foster a sense of belonging and community – a win for your new hires and your company culture.
Making sure your new employees avoid experiencing isolation isn’t just important for employee wellbeing or company culture, it has tangible knock-on effects for your business. It’s estimated that loneliness costs U.S. employers $400 billion a year. Implementing relationship-building initiatives like onboarding buddy systems is crucial to nurturing your employees and avoiding these business costs.
While an onboarding buddy system is a perfect place to lay the foundation for valuable friendships at work, setting new hires up with a mentor also has important practical benefits.
73% of new hires agree that a buddy system makes them more productive at work. Beyond having the personal support of a colleague, a buddy system gives new hires the practical tools to get started with their job.
Finding answers to questions in the first weeks of a new role can be difficult. From a practical perspective, having a buddy will mean new hires can get the answers they need without wasting time figuring out who to ask.
There will also be questions that your new hire will prefer not to ask their managers. Whether it’s about company hierarchy, team dynamics, dress codes, or organizational procedures. Providing them an onboarding buddy as a lifeline for all informal communications is the easiest way to give them the full context of their new workplace.
The initial time invested in an onboarding buddy system benefits teams in the long run. Having a mentor offers an informal learning opportunity that will save time in training and provide useful insights into the organization's structure, especially if your new hire is partnered with a colleague from a different department.
Part of a new hire's confidence will come from knowing they are contributing to the company in a meaningful way. By making sure your new hire has everything they need to get on with their job, an onboarding buddy system will help new hires feel capable and productive faster.
Not only do meaningful relationships between colleagues make work more enjoyable and encourage productivity within the team, but it will also mean employees are less likely to look for work elsewhere. Retain happy employees who enjoy working with their colleagues and avoid the cost of rehiring.
The number of employees working remotely has grown by 44% in the last 5 years. Unsurprisingly, the demand for quality remote onboarding has increased with it. And although a buddy system really focuses on human connection, we can also do this successfully in a remote, purely digital environment.
It’s no secret that HR teams are busy. From recruitment to onboarding, it can be difficult to keep tabs on every new hire, especially when many are remote employees.
Thankfully, having a buddy can help stop new hires from falling through the cracks and avoid any risks of isolation, disengagement, and unfulfillment in those first crucial weeks.
In the past, it would have been fair to say that an onboarding buddy system benefits only those employees working from the office. Now, however, onboarding software technology has made it possible to deliver a remote onboarding buddy program that rivals what is offered on-site.
Set reminders for mentors to reach out to their buddies before the first day, send notifications for a daily catch-up call, plan an online team-building exercise, or schedule a review of the first few weeks. Onboarding software can help facilitate a seamless onboarding process that covers the practicalities and has a human touch, every step of the way.
Bonus: Allow employees to practice management potential
An onboarding buddy system benefits more than just new hires. It’s also a great chance for motivated employees to showcase their leadership qualities. Having a system in place where existing employees can step up temporarily in leadership roles is an excellent professional development opportunity.
TIP: Create a standard onboarding buddy program and encourage mentors to use their creativity and initiative to tailor the experience to the new hire.
Build your buddy system right and your new hires, buddies, and organization will reap the
rewards. From the human aspect of valuable connections to the practicalities, the benefits of a buddy system at work are far-reaching and worth the investment.
And the good news is, whether you’re using onboarding software or not, you can start today!