How to Implement a Work Buddy System?

 

A work buddy system is becoming an increasingly customary HR practice for facilitating new hires’ onboarding process. Thus, a work buddy system can be seen as a complimentary feature for a well-planned and well-designed Pre & Onboarding strategy.

introdus, employee onboarding software, has a clear mission: ensuring that no employee will ever experience unsatisfying Pre & Onboarding experiences. Thus, apart from delivering our own software solutions that assist employers worldwide, we also create supporting tools, such as checklists (such as the remote onboarding checklist and the onboarding buddy checklist) which can assist you at the beginning of your employment journey.

We believe that implementing buddy programmes at work is an extremely effective strategy not only for ensuring the success of your Pre & Onboarding Programme, but also for ensuring your new hire engagement with the company from the very moment of signing the contract.

This article will discuss the work buddy system. You will find answers to the following questions: what should be considered when planning and designing a work buddy system? Who benefits from such a system and how?

What is a Work Buddy System?

 

In order to define what a work buddy system is for a company and yourself, the new hire, let’s think about this situation: you have just joined a company where you know absolutely nobody, which is quite customary when starting a job in a new company. There is a chance that even the recruiter was an outsider to the company; this situation is also quite common.

It probably comes as no surprise that you feel stressed, yet excited for starting: not only for wanting to perform well, but also for wanting to fit right in. There is a degree of awkwardness for the first team interactions. Obviously people that work together for a period of time develop ways of communicating, inside jokes, as specific ways to relate to one another. But there is no way for you to “study” any of that in advance.

You’re definitely not going to find out in the company handbook a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to office chatter or acceptable behaviours. Things get even more complicated when people have different cultural backgrounds. You could offend someone by offering them some food items, or asking them about potentially contentious issues (religion, or politics).

But what if there is a figure that not only is the friendly and familiar face waiting for you in the reception on your first day, but also the go-to-person that will induct you into the office culture? The buddy at work system pairs you with a buddy that can reveal to you the culture that is lived on a day to day basis, and not just the principles that any company can list on its website and intranet.

So, a work buddy system is a framework that compliments the staff onboarding process, sharing some of its strategic objectives. Namely, a work buddy system is meant to ease the transition of any new hire into their new organisation, new team and new role.

Work Buddy System Insights

A new employee who is made to feel part of the work group gains more confidence and is likely to become more productive faster.


The Society for Human Resource Management.

Buddy System in the Workplace: Key Implementation Elements

 

There are multiple things to consider when deciding to implement a buddy system in the workplace. We are reviewing some of the key elements for any buddy system in the workplace below. Beyond doubt, a buddy system in the workplace has to have measurable goals and measurable objectives, as well as clear lines of action and key figures taking ownership of the processes involved. So, let’s review all of these elements:

 

The Buddy System in the Workplace: Key Stakeholders

 

There is no preset recipe for how many stakeholders should be involved in a work buddy system. Each company might experiment with different formulas until finding out what works best.

However, as a rule of thumb, the HR responsible is the one taking the lead for setting up the buddy system and making the pairing between buddies and new hires, with the line manager having a supporting role.

 

The Buddy System in the Workplace: Goals and Metrics

 

As with any process that utilises any kind of resources (time, financial, etc), the work buddy system has to have clearly defined goals that are measurable, so as to assess the success or lack thereof of the initiative.

Some examples of goals are: achieving a higher engagement, social integration, achieving culture understanding, achieving confidence with the team, achieving onboarding satisfaction.

Additionally, some examples of performance metrics are: time to performance, engagement rate, social and cultural integration score, onboarding satisfaction rate, turnover rate, degree of trust in the team, trust in the organisation, trust in the buddy system.

Work Buddy System Insights

A buddy system for new hires helps build an immediate personal connection between the new employee and the organisation.


The Society for Human Resource Management.

The Buddy System in the Workplace: Review Mechanism

 

Having a review mechanism for the work buddy system goes hand in hand with having clear measurable goals and indicators.

The insights provided by the metrics can help reshape the system from the lessons learned from the start of the process. Maybe something was missing from the buddy onboarding timeline, or maybe the choice of buddy was not the most appropriate for you.

Any participant to the work buddy system can provide information that can be leveraged for ensuring a continuous review and improvement mechanism.

 

The Buddy System in the Workplace: Clearly Defining the Responsibilities of the Buddy

 

A buddy has to know from the very beginning what is expected from him/ her, in order to deliver the best results. Additionally, as more key figures might be involved in your Onboarding process, it is essential for the buddy to know the limits of their interventions and actions.

As stated before, the buddy is essential for your social and cultural integration. The buddy is not supposed to be your career coach, nor your role mentor.

Thus, it is essential for all buddies to be provided with a “role description” when taking over the role of buddy, that painstakingly lays out the areas of action and optionally, the areas that are “off limits.”

 

The Buddy System in the Workplace: Choosing and Allocating Buddies

 

Having a predefined system for choosing and allocating buddies is essential for ensuring the success of the initiative.

Although simply having the buddy figure for your onboarding is a step in the right direction, it is ideal that the choice of buddy is strategic. Ideally, you can be paired with a buddy that shares your interests and is familiar with your role, again, not in order to provide you with job related advice, but to have a better awareness of how you will fit in the larger team/ department picture.

An option for solving this conundrum, which we ourselves use for our buddy platform, is a buddy rotation system where existing employees willing to take on the responsibilities of a buddy are uploaded and marked. Allocation becomes a lot easier with such a system in place.

 

Benefits of Buddy System at Work

 

Many of the benefits of buddy system at work transpire from the facts presented in the article so far. But for the sake of clarity, let’s review the most important ones.

It should be noted that the benefits of buddy system at work are not limited only to you as a new employee. On the contrary, both the company as a whole, and the buddies benefit from implementing a work buddy system.

 

Benefits of a Buddy System at Work: 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.”

 

Benefits of a Buddy System at Work: 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.

 

Benefits of a Buddy System at Work: 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.

We have prepared a summarising presentation that illustrates the key elements of a work buddy system: the key components and the benefits of a buddy system at work. You can download the buddy system at work ppt below (we recommend doing a right click followed by the “save link as” option).

Download the buddy system at work ppt

 

To sum up, a buddy system in work settings can present employers and employees with multiple benefits. Although on paper, a work buddy system can be regarded as a knowledge sharing method focused on informal learning and socialising, its effects can also trickle down into employee performance and time to productivity indicators.

The many benefits that we showcased throughout the article are the reason why many companies are implementing buddy systems at work. If you are interested in seeing how to easily set up a buddy system in 7 steps, have a look here.

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