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    The onboarding buddy guide: preparing your mentors

    Editor notes: This blog article has been updated on June 20, 2023

    It's simple - helping your newest team members cultivate close relationships at the office can increase employee satisfaction by up to 50%. Plus research shows that having a buddy can also significantly improve employee engagement and increase retention.

    So what’s the secret to setting up a new hire buddy program that stands out above the rest? Having amazing mentors, of course.

    Finding the right mentor

    When it comes to choosing the right buddy for your new hires, not everyone will be mentor material. And picking the wrong person to lead your newest talent is sometimes worse than choosing no one at all.

    While finding the ‘ideal’ onboarding buddy will look different for every organization, there are 10 key questions that can help narrow down your search:

    • What role is the new hire starting and what colleagues and teams will be most relevant to them?

    • How long has your buddy worked at the company?

    • Will an enthusiastic and fairly fresh recruit (min 1 year) or a seasoned employee better support a new hire in this particular role?

    • Will an inter- or intra- department buddy be more valuable to the new hire?

    • Is the buddy of a similar experience level to your new hire?

    • Is there an opportunity to bridge a knowledge gap by pairing them with a more senior employee?

    • Will your buddy represent and uphold the mission and values of your organization?

    • Does your buddy have the communication and interpersonal skills required to engage and support a new hire?

    • Is your buddy well-connected within the social circles of your organization?

    • Does your buddy show an eagerness to engage in and improve the buddy system?

    Taking the time to answer these questions will help you pinpoint the characteristics you’re looking for and avoid having to re-select a new buddy down the line. 

    Sell the perks


    Making sure your mentors know why they want to be involved in the program is an aspect you won’t want to overlook. If you’re running a volunteer-based program you’ll want to highlight key incentives of getting involved such as:

    • The opportunity to showcase leadership potential

    • Employee recognition and professional development

    • Tangible incentives like a gift card or additional training budget

    • An exclusive event for just buddies

    Take the time to train 


    Don’t be put off by the prospect of training your mentors. Yes, it will take up some additional time but it’s crucial if you want to capture all the benefits of a buddy system. Providing a half or full day course on the role of a buddy, and the responsibilities and expectations will help ensure your mentors feel adequately prepared. It will also set a baseline for all mentorship programs so you know your new hires will receive a consistent level of support. 

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    Need help with creating a specialized program to train your onboarding buddies? Reach out to Talmundo. We craft a unique onboarding processes based on your needs, employees, company, and onboarding goals.

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    Set tasks for buddies

    Your mentors have been chosen, you sold the perks, and you’ve taken the time to train. Next up, you’ll want to set some key tasks for your buddies. 

    Some standard tasks, to begin with, include:

    • Reaching out to new hires before their start date - this can minimize the chances of job abandonment and ensure that they start their new position already engaged.

    • Preparing the new employee’s workspace, extra points for decorating their desk or bringing breakfast treats on day one.

    • Casual one-on-one introduction and chat about the buddy program.

    • Overview of company culture and what the mission, vision, and values really mean to employees.

    • Making the rounds: who’s who (including senior leaders).

    • Explanation of employee benefits and perks.

    • Must-dos: synopsis of appropriate office attire, general rules of thumb for working in open office spaces, etc.

    Tailor your task lists according to your new hire’s needs and leave room for your mentors to add their own flare. Having the freedom to put their twist on the new hire’s first weeks will not only help boost engagement, but it will also make your new hire's experience more authentic and memorable. 

    How you communicate these tasks is up to you. Use a checklist, set calendar reminders, or better yet  – automate everything with onboarding software.

    Leverage the power of your buddies with onboarding technology


    Facilitate your buddies to support new hires to the best of their ability with the help of onboarding software. No more sticky notes or verbal reminders to check in, your buddies will have fail-safe onboarding technology to support their mentorship roles every step of the way.

    Now you can assign tasks, schedule meet-ups, and set notification reminders for buddies across departments, offices, and even different regions. Keep things personalized and automated for even better onboarding.

    Final note: Improving your buddy preparation over time


    Before letting your onboarding buddies out into the wild, so to speak, do one final thing: set up an anonymous review process to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your program. Use a scoring system to identify how prepared they felt, and how engaged they feel with the program, while also leaving a comment section for suggestions. Regular, automated feedback surveys will be the key to continually improving your buddy preparation program. 

    Learn everything you need to know about creating the perfect onboarding buddy program, download the ULTIMATE onboarding buddy checklist today.

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    Topics: Onboarding
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