The magic of an onboarding buddy

HR/learning in organizations
5/1/2024

The secret to good onboarding for your new colleague? Lots of personal attention! Read why a buddy is so important for onboarding and retaining newcomers.

Of course, you've arranged everything very nicely for your new employee. A nice laptop, pre-programmed with all the useful apps and an extensive online onboarding program. A smart phone in a cool case, with your company logo, of course. Maybe a new lease car is even shining in the parking lot. What more could your fresh colleague want?

Well, how about warm, personal attention? Indeed, research shows that, no matter how well you have arranged the hard terms of employment, contact with colleagues and the working atmosphere be able to make or break an onboarding.

Just check with yourself. Do you remember what your own first day of work was like? What did it feel like when you crossed the threshold like a cat in a strange warehouse and started looking for your new workplace? Exactly. Real attention from an understanding colleague makes a lot more impression at such a time than the most expensive laptop or fattest car. Feeling lonely and lost in a strange work environment? Then you drop out. It's that simple.

Moral of this story: get a buddy that rolls out a hot red carpet for each new employee. It must be someone who shows the way in the building, so you don't get lost when you have to go to the toilet. A nice buddy is an insider who bridges the gap with interesting interlocutors to meet. But also someone you're with feels safe enough to ask the question about the dress code, what time to have lunch or where to call in sick.

Invest in onboarding buddies. It will bring a lot of benefits to both the new colleague and the organization. But don't go crazy bombing just anyone with space in the agenda into an onboarding buddy. Make your choice carefully and ensure the right preconditions. Of course, we would like to give you a few tips.

1. Ambassadors

A good onboarding buddy has your organization completely in his or her DNA. It is an ambassador for the purest water, who goes to work whistling and exudes pleasure. No, it doesn't have to be an uncritical one, over the top to be a seller who evokes resistance rather than a click from the new colleague. A bit of healthy criticism or humor is okay from time to time, as long as it does not detract from the vision and the 'why' of your organization.

It's a good idea to name not one, but more buddies. This prevents the one popular colleague from being overburdened, and also offers freedom of choice. Sometimes there is no click between the newcomer and the buddy, or there is such a tsunami of new colleagues that it is impossible to cope on your own. What's more, it's nice to be able to share experiences with another buddy from time to time. Because, of course, an onboarding buddy is also just a person!

2. Time

Of course, it takes time to introduce a new employee to an organization. Take this into account sufficiently. Prevent onboarding from becoming a final item by ensuring that the buddy has enough space in his or her agenda.

Therefore, reserve specially earmarked hours for onboarding new employees. Not only during the first few working weeks, but also in the following months. Because that's when it comes down to it, you don't want to lose your new colleague in the midst of peoples!

3. Preparation

Don't just throw your buddies in the deep end. Provide them with enough work material so that they don't have to invent the wheel all by themselves. A few examples of useful things?

  • A checklist with everything that needs to be covered in the first weeks of work. From the operation of the copier to the alarm system code, from vacation request to the first aid kit: it helps if you can simply tick a specific topic.
  • Tips for conducting introductory interviews. Some employees are not used to having personal conversations with strangers. Then it helps to provide some conversation techniques in advance, in text or, for example, with a short instructional video.
  • A list of contacts that are of interest to the new employee. It may well be an interesting mix of various stakeholders: from HR, the facility manager and the counselor to the director; everyone has their own role in the organization and can probably tell something about it that will help the new colleague.

4. Long term

Once the new employee has been working for a few weeks and feels familiar, it may be tempting to let go. Just wait a little longer! Especially then, it is important to keep an eye on the pulse. After all, a good landing in an organization takes time. On average, it takes a year to really get used to new colleagues, the company culture and relationships. By keeping an extra finger on the pulse, you increase the chance of real integration into the organization.

So make sure you have a few contact moments between the buddy and the employee in the first year of work. By sending reminders to both at regular intervals, you can keep everyone on track. Feel free to wrap such a follow-up notification in a cozy invitation to catch up. A free cup of coffee and cake at the local bakery or a sandwich in the company canteen ensure that the moment of attention is not felt as a gift, but as a gift. Good for job satisfaction!

5. Ask for feedback

Of course, the buddy regularly asks the new employee how you like the new job. Nevertheless, during the first year, it is a good idea to ask the employee by means of a survey where onboarding can still be tightened. Are there training needs, is there a need for extra guidance, are there ideas for a fun staff outing, or are there still some facilities missing in the organization?

By asking the employee for such feedback online, you give the employee the opportunity to think about it calmly. The results of such a survey can provide important input for developing a training program, HR policy or improving internal communication.

Don't forget to also ask if the now fresh employee might want to act as a buddy for future colleagues himself, and you'll have arranged that right away!

Use online opportunities
From collecting documents for onboarding buddies on a special knowledge platform to planning reminders and sending out surveys: once you set it up properly online, you don't really have to worry about it anymore. Do you need help or inspiration with this? Contact us, then we think along with you!

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