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How to Be a Great Onboarding Buddy

Jul 11, 2021| Reading time: 3min

BY Alex Hilleary

Principal Content Marketing Manager

Do you remember how overwhelming the first weeks at your new job were? Think about how much better it would’ve been to have had an ally on the inside. 

Enter the onboarding buddy: Onboarding buddies can foster social connections, improve contextual awareness, boost productivity, and increase early work satisfaction.

With benefits like those, it seems like an onboarding buddy program is a no-brainer – and that’s exactly why more and more companies are establishing these programs all the time. 

Of course a well-structured onboarding buddy program is only half the battle. You also have to equip onboarding buddies to provide support for their new hires in order for the program to be successful. 

With that in mind, here are five easy ways you can empower your people to be great onboarding buddies and help new hires get acclimated quickly.

1. Be Empathetic

A new job, office, and team can be intimidating. Instead of glossing over worries or concerns new hires might feel, encourage your tenured buddies to take time to acknowledge these moments of discomfort. Once they’ve had a chance to listen to their new teammate, they can offer support and solutions-oriented advice.

It’s important to make sure buddies know that your People team is available as a resource to help them navigate these conversations and surface any larger issues their new hire buddies might have – without breaking the trust their new hire might have placed in any private conversations.

2. Be Proactive

Onboarding buddies are the representative of company culture. While they may not be in charge of a new hire’s entire onboarding, these tenured buddies still oversee an important experience for new hires. As a result, buddies should reach out to their new teammates often and check-in to see how they’re doing to make sure their buddies have the support they need.

This proactivity can go a long way, as someone who’s new to the team may be more hesitant to ask questions or surface issues on their own, but will feel more comfortable doing so when asked by a friendly face.

3. Offer Help

New hires may be uncomfortable asking their managers more basic questions like “who should I reach out to if I forgot my email password?” “what’s the CEO like?” or “where can I find the company values again?” 

Especially during the first week, having tenured onboarding buddies check in with your new hire every day can help ensure they have a chance to ask any questions on their mind. Additionally, you should empower onboarding buddies with time and resources to answer these types of questions and offer help, that way they can provide a quick resolution to new hires wherever possible.

4. Own Introductions

As a new employee, it may be difficult to meet other employees across teams, especially in the first couple of weeks on the job. Onboarding buddies should take some time to introduce their new hire around the company to help facilitate those connections.

This type of social connection is especially important to helping new hires meet people (particularly in a remote setting) so that they can establish a sense of belonging early on – something that’s critical for long-term success in any company.

5. Always Follow Up

Finally, encourage onboarding buddies to always follow up with their new hires. This includes keeping in touch after offering help or introducing new hires to other team members. 

Remember: New employees are balancing a lot of responsibilities and emotions as they settle into their new role, so ensuring that onboarding buddies follow up on outstanding questions or even to see how a resolved question is panning out can go a long way toward establishing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships for both the new hire and the tenured employee. 

Everything You Need to Know and Do to Create an Onboarding Buddy Program

If you’re ready to build (or revamp) an onboarding buddy program for your team, how do you know where to start? Download our comprehensive guide to creating an onboarding program to get the details.

How to start an onboarding buddy program

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