Adjusting to an unfamiliar work environment can be difficult for new hires, especially if the proper onboarding processes aren't in place. Hiring managers devote a massive amount of time and energy to tracking down top talent, checking qualifications and conducting face-to-face interviews, but these efforts can be wasted if candidates are not directly supported in their first few weeks of employment. With employee "ghosting" on the rise, it's never been more important to implement a comprehensive and engaging onboarding framework that helps recent hires make a seamless transition into their new positions.
One of the latest recruitment trends is the practice of pairing new hires with an "onboarding buddy." This strategy ensures that employees are able to build meaningful relationships from day one, helping them feel like a valuable addition to the organization. A buddy system can also provide an opportunity for informal knowledge sharing, as experienced employees are able to shape the early development of new hires to suit existing expectations and workflows. But what are the specific benefits of implementing an onboarding buddy program?
Top 3 benefits of onboarding buddies
First, it's important to point out that an effective onboarding process is crucial to retaining employees and reducing short-term turnover. According to data compiled by Brandon Hall Group, organizations that have a strong onboarding framework can improve their retention of new employees by a whopping 82%. Companies that overwhelm recent hires with administrative tasks, paperwork and tedious training initiatives often have a much harder time transitioning candidates into their new roles and keeping them engaged in the long term. In fact, employees who have a negative onboarding experience are nearly twice as likely to start searching out other career opportunities within their first year of employment, per research from Digitate. Organizations looking to create a more welcoming and consistent new hire program should consider the following benefits of implementing an onboarding buddy system:
- Offering employment context: Many recent hires struggle to understand the exact tasks and responsibilities they are expected to perform when transitioning into a new role. An onboarding buddy can acclimate new employees to an unfamiliar environment by sharing their knowledge of internal procedures, management structures, problem solving techniques and more. They can also provide greater context for an organization's workplace culture and behavioral norms, which can help new hires quickly adjust to their new setting.
- Enhancing productivity: In most cases, new employees will need to go through weeks of training to come to a complete understanding of how to do their jobs. This learning process can be a source of tension for recent hires, as many feel pressured to ramp up to a full workload as soon as possible. Implementing an onboarding buddy system has been shown to accelerate the pace of employee training and help them feel confident about their productivity. For example, a June article from Harvard Business Review spotlighted some of the results Microsoft has had with its own program - the tech company found that 97% of new hires who met with their onboarding buddies frequently during their first 90 days felt that the interactions had helped them quickly become proficient in their roles.
- Supporting new hire satisfaction: Streamlining the onboarding process is essential for fostering a positive and welcoming environment for new hires. Since employee satisfaction is directly correlated with retention, it's important to provide candidates with the hands-on support they need to excel. Microsoft's internal study discovered that recent hires who were paired with an onboarding buddy were 23% more satisfied with their experience than those who were left on their own, suggesting that this practice could help employers reduce short-term turnover and lay the groundwork for long-term success.
Developing an effective onboarding system is all about accommodating the needs of new hires and providing them with the knowledge, tools and reassurance they need to adapt to a new work environment.