The benefits of having a buddy system at work
We all want a work bestie and when our employers facilitate pairing people up, it can make a world of difference, not only those buddied but to the organisation.
What is a buddy system?
At its most basic level it’s about helping staff to make friends and learn from each other. Typically, used to onboard new employees who don’t know the ropes. Some are buddied on day one of their employment at their new company.
The buddy system can be either formal or relaxed depending on the companies culture. When formalised there will be a document that outlines the buddies responsibilities and well as the items they should cover in the first few weeks and months.
The buddy system should help facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience that helps the organisation.
Finally, a workplace buddy system gives the new employee an opportunity to offer confidential feedback about how the on-boarding process is going.
What might go into your buddy system or program?
Plan to succeed. Solid preparation is key.
Create a short guide on what the buddying system and program is about.
Highlight those involved and their tasks and responsibility
Create a buddy check list to aid the new hire
Provide contact details to help them acquire what they need, for e.g. help desk
Outline any tasks over time, so on the first day, week, month etc.
If you have a digital onboarding experience, plan to offer them timely and relevant content
What is a buddy?
A buddy is a someone who partners with a new employee for the first few months of their employment. They will be assigned to assist the new hire and help them through the first few nerve-wracking weeks. They will provide insights into how the company operates, day to day activities so they can fit in more quickly.
What does a good buddy look like?
Is an experienced employee
Well respected team member
An understanding of the context the new employee will be operating in
A good communicator and has a friendly, helpful nature
A desire to coach and mentor others
Someone who finds it natural to integrate and help others feel included
Good at active listening
4 steps guide to helping a new employee
Before day one
Read the buddy guidelines
Receiving information about the new hire
Check LinkedIn and read their CV to familiarise yourself
Schedule in a lunch on their first day
Greet the new hire and explain your role as their buddy
Make sure they have a list or documented list of contact details
Take on a tour of the office, canteen, toilets, kitchen area
Share tips about how to navigate the office space
As you go through the tour, introduce them to their colleagues and explain roles
First 2 weeks
As simple as it sounds, introduce them to the coffee machine and kitchen area
Share locations outside the office, parks etc
Explain how the technology works in the office and any quirks
Find out about the employee's favourite snack organise a one month celebration
Include new hire to social events, team lunches and any networking opportunities
Meet for 30 minutes each week
What are the functional benefits of a buddy?
A great way to share core values and principles much faster
Provides a confidant and friend
Opportunities to coach and mentor
Speeds up locating, seeking out information
Integrates that person into their team and new environment
Facilitates helping that person meet their needs as they navigate through
Can highlight and identify roadblocks in the system
Helps with retention
What are the human benefits of being buddied?
They feel welcome and it's starts the process of integration, with the outcome of belonging to a new group. No one wants to feel like an outsider.
It shows the organisation cares about their wellbeing
Helps reduce uncertainty and anxiety about being in a new community
When we enter new groups we won't feel safe initially. The buddy and the work they do can help demonstrate through actions and words that the organisation is a safe space.
Buddy system 2.0
It is well documented and buddy systems do add real value to the organisation and way beyond the first 90 days. That on-boarding experience, if done well with stay with that new hire many years later.
Why can't we take what we understand and know about a good buddy system and apply that to wellbeing in general? What unmet and neglected needs do each of us have that can be helped with meaningful connection?
Buddies don't just have to be for new hires. If you've ever decided to achieve a new goal, start a new challenge, meet a need a buddy is a fantastic way to help you on the journey. In all our research, buddying came up quite a bit. People want the support, the encouragement, not only that, they want to share the experience. Why wouldn't you?
Take your buddy systems further. Contact us if you want to explore this topic. We'd love to hear from you.