The first day in a new job is always exciting for new hires, but it can also be very nerve-wracking – especially if it happens remotely. What can you do to help overcome this? Next to offering a structured, well-organized (remote) onboarding process, give them someone they can fall back on: a (virtual) onboarding buddy!
Providing an onboarding buddy guarantees that your new hires have someone to talk to. An onboarding buddy system can become an unstructured knowledge share. Your new hires will understand workplace operations, processes, and culture much better. Not enough reasons yet? Here are 6 more reasons why your company should offer an onboarding buddy!
1. It helps you to retain employees
According to data compiled by Brandon Hall Group, organizations with a strong onboarding program improve their retention of new employees by a whopping 82%. In fact, research by Digitate says that employees who have a negative onboarding experience are nearly twice as likely to start looking for a new job within their first year of employment.
By implementing an onboarding buddy, you make sure your onboarding program is getting that extra layer to make the new hire feel heard and supported.
The buddy has the extra responsibility to check in with the new hire - if something in the onboarding process is not going smoothly, they will report that to HR and make sure the new hire is looked after.
2. It builds relationships between co-workers
When new hires work individually or remotely, they are not given a lot of opportunities to interact with others. This could lead to job disengagement and poor productivity.
Imagine bonding with a new colleague on the very first day of your job! Someone to talk to, eat lunch, share ideas, or even jokes with. The onboarding buddy program could create long-lasting working relationships and make employees happier in their jobs.
One of the top reasons hires quit their job is because they have poor (manager) relationships at work, according to an ADP Research Institute (ADP RI) report: “When compensation is excluded from consideration, the number one reason for an employee departure is a poor direct manager relationship, with 36 percent of employees saying so.”
So you could say it’s good for business to help build working relationships.
3. Onboarding buddies boost productivity
Speeding up the productivity of the new hires is one of the main reasons to pair them up with onboarding buddies. At Microsoft, they found that the more the onboarding buddy met with the new hire, the greater the new hire’s perception of their own speed to productivity according to the Harvard Business Review:
“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.”
Clearly, that additional layer of support is critical to a new hire’s success.
Appical tip: Encourage buddies and new hires to schedule regular meetings to improve productivity.
4. Make new hires feel welcome
Not everyone is a natural when it comes to fitting in, some need a helping hand. Partnering new hires with an experienced colleague makes the new employees feel more relaxed and welcome in their new job. Someone who might have been nervous can immediately feel like a valued part of the team.
In this first crucial stage, the buddy onboarding program can help new hires learn about the parts of the job and the work culture that they might otherwise take for granted.
Buddy duties (if it’s at the office) are more than just offering directions to the toilet and where the coffee machine is. They should share helpful, socially-focused information to make sure the new hires feel right at home and welcome, such as:
- The best spot to get a club sandwich for lunch
- Where to get the best latte macchiato
- Where everyone goes for the happy hour drinks
- The quickest options to travel to work
- How far can Casual Fridays get (can you wear your glitter shorts/skirt?)
- How to access the office in the weekend
- The kitchen rules (what to clean up and what can you use?)
- How to fill out the expense form and who you need to send it to
- How you can win internal discussions and make sure decisions are made faster
5. Less nervous, more confident
An onboarding buddy program should be casual, supportive, and private. New hires are more likely to be creative and innovative if they have a support buddy that can give them valuable feedback. Highlight the factor of trust and confidentiality between buddies. This way, new hires will feel comfortable asking questions without the fear of details getting passed around the office. If they have someone validating and supporting their ideas, they build more confidence in themselves.
6. WIN WIN WIN
It’s not just the new hires who can benefit from this relationship. Being an onboarding buddy gives the buddies the opportunity to demonstrate and develop leadership skills. Teaching others can strengthen the buddy’s knowledge base, enabling the onboarding buddies to develop a deeper level of expertise.
Furthermore, being in the role of the buddy gives the opportunity to expand the buddy’s network and gives a fresh perspective on the job.
Research has found that after their first week on the job, new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their overall onboarding experience compared to those without buddies. This trend continued with a 36% increase in satisfaction at 90 days.
The onboarding buddy explained: an infographic
There is a lot more to learn about the onboarding buddy than what we could cover in this blog. Therefore we have composed an onboarding buddy infographic with all the information you need to get you onboarding buddy program started and on point.