How to Start an Onboarding Buddy Program (+Checklist)

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onboarding buddy

Onboarding a new employee is both an exciting and stressful time for the HR team, managers, and the new employee. 

Both the HR team and managers play an important role in the new hire onboarding process. However, a broader team effort cannot be overlooked when it comes to creating a positive and productive onboarding experience that cultivates social connections for new employees.

For many new hires, the learning curve is steep, but settling into an unfamiliar environment is even more difficult. This is why implementing an onboarding buddy program as part of your employee onboarding checklist can be helpful for new hires.

An onboarding buddy program allows new hires to gain insight into inside information, receive the encouragement they need to get comfortable in the workplace, ease the transitional period, and improve the overall employee experience.

What Is an Onboarding Buddy?

An onboarding buddy is a current employee who assists the new employee and acts as a support system through their onboarding process. The role of a buddy is different from that of a mentor or coach. An onboarding buddy educates the new hire about the company’s day-to-day processes, introduces them to the team, helps build social connections, supports their immediate productivity on the job, and helps them build confidence and feel comfortable in the new work environment.

This relationship is less formal, with its core purpose being encouragement and friendship.

Starting your own onboarding buddy program?
Get your free onboarding buddy checklist template now!

Why Onboarding Buddies Are Important?

Here are a few of the biggest benefits of launching an onboarding buddy program at your organization:

1. Boosts productivity

When a company spends so much time and effort to hire an employee, they expect to see a quick return on investment. Meanwhile, the new hire needs a certain amount of time to adapt to the new culture and learn about their roles and responsibilities. 

Allowing new hires to shadow an existing employee (the onboarding buddy), ask questions about the job, understand company processes, and collaborate on introductory-level tasks, this all makes them feel comfortable and confident about their new job and boosts productivity at an early stage.

2. Improves new employee satisfaction

Pairing a new hire with an onboarding buddy who has a considerable amount of experience at the company helps calm the new employee’s nerves and gives them the understanding and training they need to handle their responsibilities better. Getting the right direction and guidance avoids employee frustration and improves overall job satisfaction.

3. Enhances employee experience

An onboarding buddy acts as a new hire’s best friend, helping them fast forward through the first few months, skipping over awkward moments and settling well into an unfamiliar environment. 

Additionally, an onboarding buddy provides context regarding different stakeholders, navigating the organization, approaching day-to-day responsibilities, and company rules, policies, and other important information. All this helps your new hires in acclimating to their new company and improving their overall employee experience.

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Improve your employee onboarding process with Whatfix digital adoption platform

Responsibilities of an Onboarding Buddy

Here are the responsibilities of an onboarding buddy for new hires:

  • Helping the new hire set up their systems
  • Introducing the new hire to the team
  • Including the new hire in social activities, such as lunches, coffee breaks, and informal outings
  • Sharing company values and vision
  • Teaching unfamiliar tasks
  • Answering questions and referring to pertinent resources
  • Taking the new hire for an expanded tour of the work location
  • Holding short weekly meetings to help the new hire with daily tasks

How to Create an Onboarding Buddy Program ( + Checklist)

Here is a checklist to help you create and launch a successful onboarding buddy program for your new hires.

1. Create a simple onboarding buddy program document

You need to create a simple and formal document that outlines how the work buddy program will work – as well as define the purpose, roles, ground rules, length of time, etc. 

 

2. Choose the right onboarding buddy

An onboarding buddy is someone who upholds your organization’s values and helps share a sense of pride and loyalty in new employees. Here are some of the most important qualities you need to look for in your onboarding buddy: 

  • Sufficient knowledge about the new hire’s role 
  • Strong job performance history
  • Has extra time to assist the new hire
  • At least a year’s worth of company experience
  • The enthusiasm and skills to help new hires
  • Has patience, as well as strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Reports to the same manager as the new hire
  • Is well liked across the organization, with strong connections in various departments

Let’s also have a look at what an onboarding buddy is not:

  • A buddy is not a substitute for the supervisor or mentor.
  • A buddy is not involved in the new hire’s individual development or job performance.
  • An onboarding bussy should not be held accountable for the new hire’s performance.
  • Should not be a disgruntled employee or someone who is nearing their retirement.

 

3. Create a checklist for the topics that buddy needs to cover with the new hire

Finally, create a checklist that lists out all the different topics and goals that your buddy will accomplish with your new hires. You can follow this checklist schedule:

  • Before the New Employee Starts:
    • Learn more about the new employee by reviewing their resume, LinkedIn, and manager’s notes on their hiring process.
  • Day 1
    • Greet the new employee and introduce yourself early in their first day
    • Have a quick get-to-know-you session with the new employee
    • Conduct an introductory tour around the office for the new employee to meet everyone
    • Share your contact information
    • Help with answering questions or pointing new hire in the right direction
  • First week
    • Introduce the employee to their coworkers
    • Explain briefly every team member’s role to the new employee
    • Help the new hire with ordering equipment and other office supplies
    • Take the new employee out for lunch
    • Explain employee role and expectations
    • Explain about any employee perks, wellness programs, benefits, cultural events, etc.
    • Explain in brief about the internal communication and collaboration tools for new hires to start connecting with their teammates
  • First few months
    • Conduct weekly check-in meetings with the new employee to see how things are going and if they have any questions or challenges
    • Explain company methods and style of work at the organization.
    • Sit with the employee to see how things are going and to hear out their comments, ideas, and updates and help them anywhere they get stuck.

4. Evaluate the buddy program via a new-hire survey

The onboarding buddy program needs to be evaluated to determine its effectiveness. At the end of the program, the program coordinator or hiring manager should ask the new employee to complete a brief questionnaire to get feedback on the program.

Free Buddy Program Satisfaction Survey Template

To help you manage the launch of your buddy program, we’ve put together an onboarding buddy program satisfaction survey to help you get the program off the ground:

onboarding Buddy program satisfaction survey template

The purpose of the survey is to review and re-design your onboarding buddy program and allow you to work on continually improving it.

✓ Thank you, the checklist will be sent to your email

FREE TEMPLATE
A customizable checklist to create your own onboarding buddy program

Your Topic
FAQs

An onboarding buddy is a current employee who assists the new employee, educates about the company’s day-to-day processes, introduces them to the team, helps build social connections, supports their immediate productivity on the job, and helps them build confidence and feel comfortable in the new work environment.

  • Helping the new hire set up their systems
  • Introducing the new hire to the team
  • Including the new hire in social activities, such as lunches, coffee breaks, and informal outings
  • Sharing company values and vision
  • Teaching unfamiliar tasks
  • Answering questions and referring to pertinent resources
  • Taking the new hire for an expanded tour of the work location
  • Holding short weekly meetings to help the new hire with daily tasks
Improve your new employee onboarding process with a digital adoption platform

Employee onboarding is a crucial step in a new hire’s journey. It sets up your new team member for success, eventually making them a high performer in your organization. It creates a strong first impression of your organization and positively impacts the employee’s performance.

In addition to building a comprehensive and effective onboarding buddy program for your new hires, organizations need to adopt employee onboarding platforms to facilitate smooth and simple onboarding for new hires. These platforms provide new hires with a full introduction to the company’s product, structure, internal policies, values, and help develop a high level of proficiency on different enterprise applications.

Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that creates personalized and engaging employee onboarding programs at scale to welcome new users with the first call-to-action based on their role and catapult the employees to rapid productivity.

The platform allows you to create employee onboarding tasks lists and self-help widgets within the application to create a self-serve onboarding journey for your new hires.

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