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In starting a new role, have you ever wished you could fast forward through the first few months, skipping over those awkward moments of confusion? This is why implementing a Buddy Program as part of your employee onboarding can be so helpful, and improve the employee experience.


Bringing a new employee onboard is both an exciting and stressful time. The company learned that these buddies help ensure a successful onboarding in three key ways: they provide organizational context, boost productivity, and improve new employee satisfaction. Companies that want to start a similar pilot should keep in mind what current employees need to be successful buddies, too.

Why use a buddy system in the workplace?

This usually involves prioritizing their worklo, communicating timing, and clarify reporting structures. It just takes planful management and the right amount of support.

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Over the last few years, Microsoft has been working to improve its onboarding process. At the outset, we learned that a seemingly simple action — managers having one-on-one meetings with their new hires during their first week on the job — has outsized benefits.

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After piloting a buddy program involving employees across the organization, we found that onboarding buddies help our hires in three key ways:. Onboarding buddies provide context. For new hires, context is a precious commodity. For instance, knowledgeable onboarding buddies can help new hires determine who relevant stakeholders are, how to navigate the matrix of different organizations, and think strategically when problem solving.

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They can also shed light on cultural norms and any unspoken rules that exist, which could lead to a much smoother transition into the organization. Onboarding buddies boost productivity. Speed to productivity is often a concern for both the company and the new hire.

By filling the position, the company satisfied the need for a certain skillset and now wants to see a quick return on its investment.

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Meanwhile, the new hire is likely experiencing the tension between wanting to ramp up quickly but also needing to take time to learn the job. Onboarding buddies improve new employee satisfaction.

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In order to truly understand the value of onboarding buddies, we looked at the difference in hires who were ased onboarding buddies versus those who were not. Those with buddies also reported receiving more active support from both their manager and the broader team. After careful observation of our data, we decided to expand our onboarding buddy pilot program by creating an internal site for hiring managers to match new hires with an onboarding buddy, along with guidance on what makes a good match.

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Once matched, automated reminders were sent to the new hire, the manager and their buddy to encourage consistent engagement, particularly during the first 90 days of employment. We still have quite a bit to learn as we continue to adapt and broaden our program, but here are some of our early insights and tips:.

Reprioritize the workload.

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In some cases, you may need to help reas or deprioritize work so the buddy has time to support the needs of the new hire. Communicate timing. Let both the new hire and the onboarding buddy know that this is a time-bound partnership. Buddies may be more likely to offer their services if the duration of the engagement is established in advance.

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Reporting structures matter. Our research has shown that onboarding buddies reporting to the same manager receive more favorable ratings than those who report to different managers. Being a buddy is mutually beneficial. Serving as an onboarding buddy provides an opportunity to demonstrate and develop managerial and leadership skills.

A few years ago, we surveyed our employees to understand the attributes of a successful manager.

Why introduce the buddy system into the workplace

Two of the top five attributes, communication and support, are also components for a successful buddy relationship. All it takes is a planful manager and a dedicated onboarding buddy to ensure their new hire has a positive and productive first few months on the job. You have 1 free article s left this month. You are reading your last free article for this month.

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Subscribe for unlimited access. Hiring and recruitment.

What is a buddy system?

Lessons from a pilot program at Microsoft. on Hiring and recruitment or related topics Developing employees and Human resource management. Dawn Klinghoffer is the head of people analytics at Microsoft.

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Candice YoungPh. She is responsible for developing and implementing research methodologies used to provide evidence-based solutions to improve organizational practices and procedures that impact culture, onboarding, and career development. Dave Haspas is a Data Analyst at Microsoft, where he works on analytics to support various aspects of the employee lifecycle, generating data-driven insights that inform our program teams on hiring, onboarding, internal movement, and engagement.

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By implementing a buddy system, you help new hires feel supported and give them the knowledge they need to succeed in their new role quickly.


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What is a buddy system?