Creating an Onboarding Buddy Program for Effective Onboarding in 2023

Squadsy Team
July 17, 2023

Creating an Onboarding Buddy Program for Effective Onboarding in 2023

Discover the benefits of an Onboarding Buddy Program for new hires. Learn how to create one effectively and navigate potential challenges in 2023.

Imagine yourself as Jon Snow, a popular character from the Game of Thrones series, stepping onto the icy grounds of The Wall for the first time - uncertain, cold, and as daunting as facing a horde of White Walkers. Now, picture Samwell Tarly, the ever-reliable buddy, guiding you through the ins and outs of the Night's Watch - a whole lot better, right?

That's the sheer impact of an Onboarding Buddy. They're the Sam to your Jon, turning a potentially intimidating initiation into an adventure of learning and growth. In this blog, we'll delve into the role of an Onboarding Buddy, how they differ from Mentors, their value, and responsibilities.

Additionally, we'll provide insights on crafting an effective Onboarding Buddy Program and address the challenges associated with it. Ready for this expedition? Let's decode this essential part of employee engagement together.

What or Who Is an Onboarding Buddy

Just as Samwell Tarly was for Jon Snow – trusted friend and confidante, a guiding light in the freezing wilderness of the North, an onboarding buddy is for a new hire. The Onboarding Buddy is that friendly, knowledgeable insider who helps a newcomer navigate the maze of a new workplace.

An Onboarding Buddy isn't just a colleague or a team member, they're a go-to resource who provides necessary insights into your company's work culture, environment, procedures, and protocols. This role typically goes to an employee who has been with the organization long enough to understand its ins and outs and has demonstrated skills in communication, leadership, and empathy.

An Onboarding Buddy is that warm, welcoming presence who helps the new hire settle in, breaking down the big, sometimes daunting, picture of the new job into smaller, manageable, and approachable tasks. They bridge the gap between the unfamiliar and familiar, turning the new hire's journey from being a daunting mission into a rewarding adventure.

In essence, an Onboarding Buddy acts as a human manual for your organization, making the acclimatization process smooth and encouraging for every new hire, just like Samwell did for Jon amidst the icy landscapes of The Wall.

Related Read: 5 Best Examples of Employee Onboarding Programs

Difference Between an Onboarding Buddy and Mentor

In the journey of a new hire, two roles often stand out - the Onboarding Buddy and the Mentor. Each plays a significant part, but they're not interchangeable. 

Think of the Onboarding Buddy as your tour guide on your first day in a new city. They're right there with you from the get-go, helping you find your way around, pointing out the best spots for lunch, and making sure you know the basics to navigate effectively.

They answer your immediate questions, help you understand the cultural nuances, and provide insights into the day-to-day workings of the organization. 

On the other hand, the Mentor is like a seasoned local who has lived in the city for years. They're not necessarily there to tell you where to grab your morning coffee, but they can offer you valuable advice on long-term strategies for success.

A Mentor focuses on your professional development and growth, providing guidance and advice on bigger-picture career goals. 

So while both roles are crucial in the onboarding process, their responsibilities and focal points differ significantly. An Onboarding Buddy ensures a smooth and welcoming entry, focusing on immediate acclimatization. In contrast, a Mentor is there for the long run, providing deeper, strategic support that aids in long-term growth and career progression.

Just as both a friendly tour guide and a wise local can enhance your experience in a new city, an Onboarding Buddy and a Mentor contribute uniquely to the successful journey of a new hire.

Why Are Onboarding Buddies Important

Why Are Onboarding Buddies Important

When a new hire enters the workplace, it's much like moving to a new city where they don't know anyone. This is where the Onboarding Buddy steps in, much like a friendly neighbor who helps you settle in. 

Ease the Transition

An Onboarding Buddy is there from day one, ensuring that new hires don’t feel lost or overwhelmed. They help new employees understand the team dynamics, organizational structure, and work processes. 

Foster a Sense of Belonging

They help create a welcoming atmosphere that can foster a sense of belonging in the new hire. This sense of belonging can increase job satisfaction, productivity, and employee retention.

Bridge the Gap

The Onboarding Buddy acts as a liaison between the new hire and other team members, bridging the gap and fostering open communication. They help to break down any perceived barriers, making the new hire feel comfortable to ask questions or seek assistance.

Cultural Understanding

Every company has a unique culture and understanding it can be a challenge for any newcomer. The Onboarding Buddy provides insights into the company’s culture and unwritten rules that might not be present in any official documentation. 

So, while an Onboarding Buddy might seem like a small cog in the vast machinery of an organization, their role is vital. They smooth out the onboarding process, foster a sense of belonging, bridge communication gaps, and help new hires grasp the company culture. 

Much like a helpful neighbor can transform the experience of settling into a new city, an Onboarding Buddy can significantly enhance a new hire's journey into a new workplace. Now let’s take a closer look at some of the responsibilities of the friendly neighbor.

Related Read: How to Create an Onboarding Course for New Hires

Responsibilities of an Onboarding Buddy

Responsibilities of an Onboarding Buddy

A good Onboarding Buddy is a lifeline for any new hire, easing their journey through the initial days in a new environment. But what does this really entail? Let's break it down:

Welcoming the New Hire

The Onboarding Buddy is the first friendly face a new hire sees. They set the tone for a welcoming, inclusive work environment and make the new employee feel part of the team from day one.

Sharing Company Culture

Every company has its own unique culture, traditions, and unwritten rules. An Onboarding Buddy helps the new hire understand these nuances, giving them a sense of what it truly means to be part of the organization.

Guiding Through the Basics

The Onboarding Buddy walks the new hire through the basics of their job role, work processes, tools, and systems. They help the new hire navigate the everyday dynamics of their new work environment.

Being a Go-To Person

For all those immediate questions or concerns a new hire might have, the Onboarding Buddy is the go-to person. They're available for any queries, making the new employee feel comfortable to ask for help when needed.

Providing Constructive Feedback

The Onboarding Buddy offers constructive feedback to help the new hire improve their performance and integrate effectively into the team. 

Just like a trusty travel companion who helps navigate a new city, the Onboarding Buddy has a vital role in guiding new hires through the initial stages in a new workplace. They're not just there to do their own job; they have the added responsibility of ensuring that the new hire feels welcome, understands the work culture, knows the basics, has a go-to person for queries, and receives helpful feedback.

How to Create an Onboarding Buddy Program

How to Create an Onboarding Buddy Program

Creating an effective Onboarding Buddy Program isn't just about pairing a new hire with a seasoned employee. It requires careful planning and execution. Here's how you can create a successful program:

Identify Potential Buddies

Look for employees who embody your company values, have good interpersonal skills, and are knowledgeable about their work and the organization. Not everyone makes a good Onboarding Buddy, so choose wisely.

Train the Buddies

Provide necessary training to the selected Buddies. This could include training on effective communication, handling typical queries, understanding the role of a buddy, and feedback mechanisms.

Match Buddies with New Hires

Make a thoughtful match between the new hire and the Buddy. Consider factors like the job role, personality types, and work styles.

Set Clear Expectations

Define what you expect from the Onboarding Buddy. Make it clear that their role goes beyond just welcoming the new hire and extends to aiding in their acclimatization and initial growth in the organization.

Provide a Support System for Buddies

Ensure that the Onboarding Buddies have a support system they can lean on when needed. This could be in the form of a manager or HR representative.

Review and Refine

Collect feedback from both the new hires and the Buddies on the effectiveness of the program. Use this feedback to refine and improve the program continuously.

Automate When Possible

Utilize software tools and platforms that can automate parts of the onboarding process. This can free up time for the Onboarding Buddy to focus more on personal interactions with the new hire.

Creating an Onboarding Buddy Program is like setting up a guided tour for newcomers in a city. The right tour guide can make all the difference to the tourist's experience, just as the right Onboarding Buddy can make all the difference to a new hire's initial experience at your organization.

Related Read: Top 10 Employee Onboarding Software in 2023

Challenges in an Onboarding Buddy Program

Challenges in an Onboarding Buddy Program

Implementing an Onboarding Buddy Program is beneficial, but like any initiative, it may face certain challenges. Let's explore some potential hurdles and the means to navigate them.

Mismatched Pairs

Not every buddy-new hire pair will gel well. Personalities may clash, or work styles might not align. To navigate this challenge, consider personality types, work styles, and job roles when pairing. If a mismatch occurs, a mechanism should be in place to switch buddies.

Overburdened Buddies

Being an Onboarding Buddy can be demanding, potentially adding to an employee's regular workload. Recognize the work done by buddies, make this role voluntary, and consider the current workload when assigning a buddy role. Always ensure support is available to buddies.

Lack of Clarity

Buddies might not fully understand their responsibilities or how to handle certain situations. Providing detailed training and ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of their role and responsibilities can help ease these uncertainties.

Inconsistent Experiences

Different buddies may approach the role differently, leading to inconsistent onboarding experiences for new hires. To manage this, establish a clear framework for the Onboarding Buddy Program, which includes setting expectations, providing training, and creating guidelines for buddies to follow.

Buddy Burnout

If an employee constantly acts as an Onboarding Buddy, they may start to experience burnout. Rotating the buddy role among various employees can share the responsibility and prevent burnout.

While challenges are a part of implementing any new program, they can be effectively managed with careful planning, clear communication, and continuous feedback. The ultimate goal of an Onboarding Buddy Program is to ensure that every new hire feels welcomed and supported, making their initial journey in your organization a positive and productive one.

Embarking on a new job journey can be an exciting yet challenging experience, much like exploring a new city. An Onboarding Buddy can be that friendly guide who helps new hires navigate through their initial days, making the transition smoother and less overwhelming.

While implementing an Onboarding Buddy Program can come with its challenges, the benefits it brings to a new hire's onboarding experience are significant. By carefully planning your program, training your Buddies, providing a supportive environment, and continually refining your program, you can create an Onboarding Buddy Program that truly enriches the new hire experience in your organization.

Employees are an organization's most valuable asset. Investing time and effort in their onboarding journey can lead to increased engagement, higher productivity, and ultimately, a happier and more successful workforce.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.