A buddy program is an initiative that is designed to help with the onboarding of a new hire.


Through knowledge sharing, a new employee can feel empowered in the areas of productivity, job satisfaction, and company integration

Starting a new job is hard – and nerve-wracking. It’s like you’re back at a new school. You don’t know where anything is, everyone seems to be in the know, and you feel like you’re always a step behind. But how quickly would that anxiety dissipate if you had a friend already there?

This is what happens when you implement a buddy program. A buddy program is where a veteran employee is paired with a new hire; with the goal of being able to give the new employee the inside scoop of the organisation. They can provide company-wide unspoken knowledge like, the best lunch is at a Thai restaurant next door – things that everyone assumes everyone else knows. 

And while something like the best restaurant nearby might seem like a small and possibly irrelevant piece of information, it significantly helps your new hire become part of the team. A buddy can also provide answers to processes and procedures within the office. Through implementing a buddy system you are quelling the anxiety of your new hire by giving them a friendly face to turn to should they have questions. 

Another great part of the program is its flexibility. The experience can range from weeks to months, to once a week to once a month, yet it still provides your business with a wealth of benefits. 

Its flexibility also allows for the program to be conducted by anyone across the company. At Polyglot we pair employees from different departments to give the new hire a broader scope of the organisation. Doing this can also make it more comfortable and less anxiety-inducing, as the new employee won’t feel like they are burdening their boss or someone on their team. 

Onboarding is an important part of the employee lifecycle, yet is believed by 76% of HR managers to be underutilised. Too many onboarding practices are focused on orientation only instead of being seen as a long term process, which is where the buddy system excels. 


Three Benefits Of Implementing A Buddy Program

1. Accelerate Productivity

On average, it takes eight months for a new employee to reach full productivity. It can be hard to get the ball rolling as a newbie. You aren’t sure of how things work from a culture and operations standpoint. How does my team operate? Who in the company is in charge of this ______? What should I do in case of this _______? 

While you may have handbooks that address phone etiquette, or stipulated work hours and responsibilities, the ‘meat’ (culture) of the company usually doesn’t get an edge in. Which is where a buddy program helps. This initiative assists in filling the knowledge gap, which will empower your new hire in productivity.

The invaluable information the veteran can bestow does increase productivity. Don’t believe me? Ask Microsoft. Through their buddy program, they found that 73% of employees who met with their work buddy two to three times in the first 90 days, felt they were more productive. This number rose to 97% for those who met over eight times with their buddy. Productivity positively affects your bottom line, with productive employees found to increase profits by 21%.


2. Enhance Job Satisfaction

Onboarding is not an easy process and it’s not an easy thing to get right. Onboarding can make or break your employee’s satisfaction, and can influence their intended stay at the company. A study found that 69% of employees who had a positive onboarding experience were more likely to stay at the company for three years. Conversely, a negative onboarding experience causes 64% of employees to leave within the first year.

Although money plays a role in attracting employees, nowadays job satisfaction plays a large role in the retention of employees. The expectations of work and the workplace are changing. We are in a new work era of employee experience, where employees come to work because they want to, not because they have to. Job satisfaction can be influenced by a number of factors, one being employee engagement. 

Employee engagement is shaped by workplace culture, leadership messaging, and organisational communication, to name a few. It can be hard as a new employee to wrap your head around those elements for the first few months. That’s why, through a program designed to hasten this integration, you give the new hire an opportunity to access that employee engagement, and really be part of the team and broadly, the company. 


3. Cultural Integration

Workplace culture matters. If your employees are the heart, culture is the lifeblood. The culture dictates how people interact with each other; it guides your company’s direction, and it is how employees feel connected to the organisation. Being able to understand the culture fosters a sense of belonging. Belonging is crucial in a company; in fact, workplace belonging has been shown to improve job performance by  56%!

Belonging has increased by 12% in its impact on employee happiness since the pandemic. Happy employees are more productive and can positively affect your bottom line. A buddy program helps foster belonging by bringing your new hire into the company fold. They achieve this through regular, informal catch-ups, where a newbie can develop a better understanding of the systems in place and the company benefits that are offered.

A mentor can provide an ‘in’ for the new employee by introducing them to other people within the company. The buddy can help foster connections between the recent hire and team members across the company. They introduce them to what clubs and groups the company might have, that might not have been already mentioned in orientation. This lets your new hire really get involved with the company and feel like they belong.



Final Considerations

A buddy program is an excellent and easy way to onboard your new hire. It is a malleable and flexible initiative that can be changed and altered to fit within your employees’ schedules. Meet once a week, sure. Once a month, fine. It doesn’t require too much commitment and the benefits are worthwhile. 

While you still need the training and the forms to be filled out, the buddy program can help settle your new employee and help them integrate into the company. This initiative can drastically cut the confusion and anxiety that comes with starting a new job. While the employee might have all the experience and skills you require, understanding the culture of the workplace, which is extremely important, always takes time. 

A buddy program does not need to be complicated. It’s a simple, low-maintenance solution that significantly helps your new hire become part of the company and by extension, positively impacts your company.


About the Author:

Passionate for the written word you are always guaranteed to find Alex either hunched over a laptop with a coffee, reading a book, or writing in her notebook. Paper and post-it's cover her desk - just the way she likes it. She is a staunch advocate for physical books in the book vs e-book debate and won't be convinced otherwise. You would probably find Alex's Desk in the thesaurus as a synonym for Organised Chaos.