Onboarding Buddy at Work

Implement an Innovative Work Buddy Program


A buddy at work system builds on the acknowledgement of the essential role of social connections and social relationships for your perception of wellness, and overall quality of life.

What is the role of a buddy in the workplace? How to prepare a work buddy system? How to implement an annovative work buddy program? Find out a buddy rotation system.

If you’re after an onboarding buddy checklist, we have developed one in a separate article available on our blog-HR.

What Is an Onboarding Buddy at Work?


We will start by providing a brief definition. The onboarding buddy at work is a first point of contact for you while settling into your new role.

He/she is a first point of contact for you as a new starter while settling into your new role in a new company. Additionally, the onboarding buddy is a peer that assists your new hire integration into your new company. Their main responsibility is your cultural and social integration.

You can think of your onboarding buddy as a social and culture coach. He/ she is the known friendly face waiting for you in the reception on your first day. Your onboarding buddy is your go-to person for asking any questions, no matter the subject, with zero pressure.

It is worth noting that the benefits of a buddy system onboarding extend beyond employee socialisation. This is what makes buddy onboarding attractive and desirable for many employees.


Onboarding Buddy vs Mentor

The role of a buddy is not the same as the one of a manager, mentor, supervisor, or even coach.

An Onboarding Buddy Will Not Provide Role Training

A buddy can provide valuable insights into the work duties, technologies and ways of actually doing things professionally. The buddy is not supposed to train you, or supervise your progress and employee development. By contrast, a mentor would be a more senior employee. He/she will help you establish, review and assess your goals with regards to career development within the organisation.

An Onboarding Buddy Focuses on Cultural Acclimation

The core purpose of the buddy relationship is providing friendship, support and encouragement to the new employee. The buddy will also be the one to share any unspoken office rules, all leading to the new-hire’s cultural acclimation.


What Is an Onboarding Buddy’s Meaning for Your Integration?


Onboarding buddy programs at work are attractive because they enhance Pre & Onboarding programs. Additionally, organisations with a strong Pre & Onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%. They also improve productivity by over 70%.  This is the conclusion of a Brandon Hall Group Study.

The length of the partnership will depend on your employer’s programming. You will be engaged as early as stepping into your new company.


Social Connectedness

Effective onboarding has a strong social dimension. This is because social ties are key for encouraging feelings of belonging and commitment to a new company. Additionally, strong social ties can have a powerful effect on people’s well-being, including physical, mental, and cognitive health.

Knowledge Sharing

Thus, buddy programs at work can also be regarded as knowledge sharing methods. Through an informal relationship, they orient you when starting a new job. After all, onboarding means more than just gaining access to technology and shaking everyone’s hand on the first day. Effective onboarding not only targets your professional skills and productivity, but also your social integration into the company.

Learning “How Things Are Done”

Regardless of your level of seniority and years of experience, starting a new job always has the potential of being stressful. You are, all of a sudden, an outsider to an organisation and a group of people that has well-established practices, which are more or less well-documented.

Trust and Collaboration

A good work buddy facilitates meaningful relationships based on trust, security and insight. “Despite my manager’s emphasis on perks, the most impactful part of the onboarding experience was the connections he allowed me to make with my co-workers. One of them was Maddy [my onboarding buddy] who had a deep understanding of my role”, Megan Rogers, Intern at Gather

Buddy at Work Insights

65% of new hires say it is crucial for them to receive an onboarding buddy program when starting a new job.

—According to ‘Your Pre & Onboarding Buddy’ eBook 2021.

Read the eBook

What is a New Hire Buddy Program?


A new hire buddy program at work enables managers to assign you a seasoned employee. This ensures that someone with valuable experience into the company can overlook your integration into the company culture. They will help you grasp workplace ethics and rules of conduct, as well as your job role. This relationship will have a duration that extends beyond orientation day, so as to ensure optimum benefits.

A new hire buddy program is a very cost-effective, easily implementable, and efficient way to integrate new employees.


How Long Should the Buddy at Work Program Be Active?

We recommend starting prior to your first day on the job. You can directly ask the buddy information for the dress code, lunch options. All of these even before arriving at the office. Moreover, the buddy will be the one to wait for you on your first day. The anxiety of a first day on the job can disperse.

Additionally, once you’ve already started working you can still count on the buddy to answer any practical or office related questions. Maybe you’d feel too pressured to ask your supervisor or mentor for tea alternatives or decaffeinated coffee. But there should be 0 pressure in asking your buddy at work for these details.

So a buddy at work program should not only cover the Preboarding and induction days of your onboarding. It should also have a longer term strategy.

For example, Microsoft’s buddy program pilot has revealed promising results for buddy programs with a longer period of time from the new hires’ employment start date: employees with 90 days buddy onboarding reported a 36% increase in satisfaction compared to those with no buddy at work system.


3 Benefits of a New Hire Buddy Program

Implementing a new employee buddy program can be so helpful and impactful on improving the employee experience. A buddy program onboarding presents measurable advantages. We will detail the key benefits below.


1. Boot Productivity

87% of organisations that assign a buddy program to their new employee during the onboarding process say that it’s an efficient way to boost new hire proficiency, according to a HCI report.

Microsoft has revealed that 56% of new hires who met with their onboarding buddy at least once in their first 90 days indicated that their buddy helped them to quickly become productive in their role. That percentage increased to 73% for those who met two to three times with their buddy, 86% for those who met four to eight times, and 97% for those who met more than eight times in their first 90 days.


2. Provide Context

Knowing about expectations for your performance is one of the most important factors that contribute to employee satisfaction.

Onboarding buddies can give the type of context you won’t be able to find in an employee handbook. This is one of the reasons why 56% of all new hires would like to receive a Buddy Program when starting a new job, according to HR Daily Advisor.


3. Improve New Employee Satisfaction

Buddy programs help you gain the necessary confidence for navigating the realities of your new job. In turn, this contributes to your perception of improved productivity and job satisfaction.

We view establishing social relationships as a prerequisite for a good onboarding program. We highly encourage you to explore more social benefits of a good onboarding program.


Benefits of a Work Buddy System

We highlight that the benefits of buddy system at work extend beyond new employee advantages. On the contrary, both the company as a whole, and the buddies benefit from implementing a work buddy system.

Employee Perspective

The employee benefits from a buddy system at work by:

  • Being provided with a clear point of contact prior to starting the job;
  • Having access to recurring one-on-one assistance;
  • Ensuring a smoother cultural acclimation process;
  • Gaining fast access to knowledge about “how do we get things done around here.”


Buddy Perspective

The buddies benefit from a buddy system at work by:

  • Extending their professional network;
  • Having an opportunity to enhance their leadership and mentoring skills;
  • Contributed to an office culture based on trust and support;
  • Having the opportunity to motivate and train new buddies.


Employer Perspective

The employer benefits from a buddy system at work by:

  • Creating a more effective onboarding process;
  • Registering increased employee motivation and retention;
  • Decreasing new hire turnover rates;
  • Improved employer branding, which results from positive onboarding experiences;
  • Registering increased employee productivity.
Benefits of a Buddy Program: for employees, buddies and companies

Onboarding Buddy Program Guidelines


We have additionally compiled a list of onboarding buddy guidelines that can optimize the process.


A Buddy Rotation System Activation

A Buddy rotation system allows companies to save time meanwhile they welcome new hires with different onboarding buddies. The employees included in the rotation are assigned to the new hires. There will be a buddy waiting for you. Both parts receive the instructions to start building strong bonds. You can use a buddy rotation system with the Pre & Onboarding platform introdus.

Afterwards, the new hire receives structured information. For example, introdus has crafted predefined templates with video, content information, checklists, etc. Then, the buddy system will send this content to the new employee.


A Workload Prioritizing for Buddy

It is essential for the buddy to have time for the new employee. They have to be accessible for your questions or requests. Thus, employees that already have tight schedules and deadlines would not be the ideal candidates for the job.

The new hire buddy system names the buddies’ main responsibilities. Furthermore, it introduces a timeline of what items they should run over the first few weeks or months of employment. All activities can be presented in the form of a checklist.


Trust and Confidentiality Lay at the Heart of the Buddy Relationship

You can trust your buddy with asking any questions you might have without worrying about possible repercussions. Meeting the buddy beforehand ensures that when the first day does arrive, you have a familiar, friendly face waiting for you, rather than someone completely unknown.


How to Implement a Work Buddy System?


A work buddy system is a framework that compliments the staff onboarding process. As a result, it shares some of its strategic objectives. Namely, a work buddy system will ease the transition of any new hire into their new organisation, new team and new role.

Key Implementation Elements

We are reviewing some of the key elements for any buddy system in the workplace below:

  • Key Stakeholders
  • Goals and Metrics
  • Review Mechanism
  • Clearly Defining the Responsibilities of the Buddy
  • Choosing and Allocating Buddies

Buddy Programs at Work for Remote Employees


Buddy programs at work offer companies with the possibility of addressing some of the challenges associated with remote work. Two of the most relevant challenges are loneliness and a missed opportunity for learning by observation.

Loneliness is the second most commonly quoted problem associated with working remotely, according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report. When your company implements buddy programs at work, you know exactly:

  • Who to contact
  • Where to contact
  • The person’s time zone or working hours

Another key aspect that working on-premise entails is learning by observation. You can learn a lot simply by seeing how your colleagues interact with each other. Additionally, you can learn just by listening to any technical consultations some co-workers might have in the office area.

The virtual onboarding buddy can bridge these gaps in knowledge. It does so by providing you with additional information, but also by being your go-to contact point for asking these very questions.


Buddy Program for Remote Workers Example: Buffer’s 3 Buddies


Buffer’s experimentation with buddy programs at work provides us with very interesting insights into ways of conceptualising and implementing such programs.

It is worth to notice straight away that Buffer has been a fully remote company since 2015. Hence, they have had even more time to experiment with remote onboarding. Nicole Miller, the Director of People at Buffer, highlights the unique advantages of utilising buddy programs. She touches on benefits both for the new hires and the buddies themselves, who gain first-hand leadership experience. “We believe that our current teammates are our greatest asset to help shepherd new folks into the team. They’ve been a newbie before, they’re excited and looking for opportunities to share. The process provides an opportunity for servant leadership across the whole company.”

Buffer’s implementation of the workplace buddy program is unique. They provide new hires with multiple buddies that have a very distinctive focus of activity.

Concluding Remarks: A Workplace Buddy Ensures a Smooth New Hire Integration


Having a buddy in the workplace when starting a new job is a great way to get acclimated to the company culture and values. Furthermore, it helps you acquire that sense of belonging and feeling at home. And this is one of the most important factors leading to talent retention. Feeling connected to your workplaces will make you feel  more satisfied, more engaged, and more productive. You will also feel more loyal to your new organisation.

Our Pre & Onboarding Survey 2021 revealed that for 65% of the respondents it is crucial to receive a new hire buddy program.

This is why at introdus, we place a strong emphasis on your needs when starting a new job. We know that establishing social connections is one of the most important factors for being confident and proactive in a new job.

An Onboarding Buddy at Work will make you feel like a natural part of the team.


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