Starting a Buddying System at Work? Here’s Our Complete Guide
Reuben O'Connell
6 minutes
April 19, 2023

The onboarding process can be tricky to get right, and can be particularly stressful for new employees who have to wade through new grounds with daunting tasks and unfamiliar people. You can’t feel like you’re part of the team if you don’t think you belong in it. 

This is where a buddy system comes in.

Similar to a mentoring program, a buddy system pairs new or inexperienced employees with more experienced ones to ensure they’re supported. It helps them fit into the organisation without a hitch. According to a study by Microsoft, new hires with buddies were 23% more satisfied with their overall onboarding process. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about a buddy system and how you can implement one in your workplace. Read on to learn more!

What is a buddy? 

A buddy is an experienced employee of the company. They are paired with a new hire who might be in the same job role or department—so that they can provide assistance, support, and guidance.

Their responsibility isn’t to teach the newbie everything but to serve as an ice breaker and help the new employee settle in easily and comfortably in the initial weeks or months. They help them build relationships with colleagues, learn company procedures, and act an anchor to run ideas by, etc. It’s a great form of knowledge sharing, as the buddy gets the new hire up to speed on culture and navigating the office environment. 

What makes a good buddy? 

Many might think that anyone with ample experience who knows the ins and outs of the company can be a buddy, but that’s not the case. A few things need to be considered before assigning someone as a buddy. 

Top characteristics of a great buddy

  • Good listening and communication skills
  • Willingness to or a record of helping and guiding others
  • Solid work performance record
  • A team player accepted and respected by others
  • Taking time out to ensure they are available for the new hire
  • Friendly, patient, and kind
  • Enthusiasm for being a buddy

Your buddy is essentially an ambassador for your culture. You want to put your best people forward to make sure new hires are getting a positive introduction to company culture.

What a buddy is not for

Now that we have covered what a buddy is and what qualities they should have let’s look at what a buddy is not for.

A buddy is not required to:

  • Teach basic skills or job-related duties
  • Gauge growth and progress
  • Explain company policies (That is the role of a manager) 

A buddy is not to be confused with a mentor or a manager. They are there to provide additional support and introduce new hires to the wider business. 

📖 If you want to provide the highest level of support, why not start a mentoring program for onboarding? 📖

What is a buddying system? 

A buddy system is a measure taken to ensure the smooth transitioning of new employees in the company. It pairs the new hire with an existing company employee with more experience, AKA the buddy—so they can show them the ropes and offer help wherever possible.  

It can also be used to support other groups, such as graduate program participants or employees transitioning to new departments and roles.

The dynamic between the two is mutually beneficial, but that is not exclusive. It’s bound to benefit the new employee more by ensuring they understand the company system, values, and mission and creating an environment that allows them to bring out their full potential.

The veteran employee can also use this opportunity to learn more from the new hire and how they operated in the previous workplace, as well as practicing leadership and managerial skills in a safe, low-pressure environment. 

What are the benefits of a buddy system? 

Implementing a buddy system encourages growth, open communication, a positive learning environment, and more. Having this system in your organisation will help improve and ensure;

  • Retention rate

One of the biggest issues organisations worldwide are facing is a low retention rate. Employees jump ship for a better opportunity in a heartbeat—this has been dubbed the Great Resignation. The company also bleeds money because hiring is more costly than offering handsome salaries and incentives. 

A buddy system helps retain new employees by creating an atmosphere of acceptance and making them feel comfortable and not overworked. This leads to higher retention rates because when people think they’re being heard and valued, they are likelier to be happy and satisfied and stick around for much longer. 

📖 Find out more about beating the great resignation with mentoring in our guide 📖

  • Quick integration 

A buddy system helps new hires ease into the company’s inner workings. It helps them better understand their job and the company dynamics. It provides a support system for work-related issues and others. And it makes it a pleasant experience, as joining a new workplace can be daunting for many and having someone in your corner can elevate morale.

  • Create a positive culture 

Everyone needs a friend in life, and the same goes for the workplace. Having someone who can relate to your troubles, provide emotional support, and guide you through that time immensely impacts how you perceive and handle these situations. 

So having someone in your corner is incredibly important. It creates a positive culture that continues to have a chain effect as the next hire is treated the same by the now older employee because they can relate to the situation. 

  • Boost productivity 

According to a survey, 22% of employees experience an equal or more increase in productivity if they have a friend in the workplace. This goes to show how vital support is and how a work buddy can be of great help to their colleagues and the company overall. 

  • Discover insights

Each new person joining a workplace brings different work ethics and life experiences. Allowing new hires to discuss, pitch, and just talk about their previous experience can be an excellent way to discover new ideas that hadn’t been considered or were overlooked. 

The buddying system focuses on making the employees comfortable and feeling heard by listening to their input and making them a part of the process. At the same time, they learn and adjust to the new environment. 

📖 Find out more about fostering a culture of inclusion in our guide 📖

  • Boosts confidence and satisfaction

A survey showed that 58% of employees prefer happiness over competitive salaries. By implementing a buddy system, new personnel is given time and space to figure things out at their own pace and build strong relationships. 

This, in turn, leads to new hires building a solid foundation which results in them performing at a high level with confidence, which leads to a feeling of satisfaction from their workplace and work. 

How to implement a buddy system at work

Let’s look at what you need to implement a buddy system at work successfully:

1. Match new hires with a relevant buddy to help them

More experience and knowledge do not always mean people will be good at teaching others. The buddy and employee must have good compatibility for the dynamic to work as they are more likely to bond and progress faster than if the opposite were to happen. 

Ensure that their personalities do not conflict with each other—this can be done by using matchmaking or mentoring software that will evaluate different factors such as their departments, experiences, goals, ambitions, etc. and pair the candidates accordingly. 

2. Encourage them to meet regularly 

There is no point in having a work buddy that you don’t talk to or spend time with. Regular meet-ups should be scheduled weekly or daily—this can be reduced as time goes on. This will ensure regular communication between the two, and any issues that may arise can be dealt with promptly. 

3. Measure the success through surveys

It’s vital to know the success of the buddy system—this can be measured by having them fill out a weekly or monthly detailed survey with the assurance of anonymity. 

Many employees might not be comfortable reporting anything negative about their buddy due to peer or social pressure, so ensuring their feedback remains anonymous and unbiased is important to make them feel secure and properly gauge the success of the pairing. 

4. Multiply the program across the business

There are plenty of departments that are constantly in a state of hiring, so there is an influx of new employees. Once the formula proves successful for one department, simply replicate it across all the departments, and voila—you have a happy, satisfied, and confident workforce! 

There we have it! Your complete guide to a buddying system, Hopefully, you understand the importance of having a buddy system in your organisation and how it can smooth the onboarding process for new hires, improve their productivity and satisfaction, boost their confidence and maintain a positive work culture. In case you’re still on the fence, remember —69% of employees will have a long tenure if their onboarding process is good, so it’s worth going that extra mile! 

If you’re looking for the perfect buddy system for your company and how to implement it, then we’ve got you covered—book a demo with our expert team today! 

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