Building a Buddy System for Hybrid and Remote Onboarding

By Wiona Teo

Did you know that 1 out of every 4 new hires, quit within 6 months?

Starting a new job can be exciting, but it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. With many organizations adopting hybrid and remote work nowadays, new hires may not be getting sufficient social interactions with their colleagues and managers. 


So… what exactly is an onboarding buddy?

They are like new hires' non-career-related mentors, and they don't have to be from the same department. New hires can ask their buddy anything and everything, it's like the virtual equivalent of a deskmate in an office environment. 

Building a buddy system for new hires ensures that they have someone to talk to, which is important in the first nerve-wracking weeks of a new job. A successful onboarding can be the ideal catalyst for improving company culture and employee experience (EX). 


From our Employee Experience Guide, we learned how companies that prioritize EX excellence over the next few quarters will stand to accrue exponential gains. Here at EngageRocket, we have also adopted an onboarding buddy system and here are our insights:


1. Distinguish between buddies and managers

Buddies and managers both have a place in the onboarding process, but they serve different purposes. Buddies are fun individuals who can help new hires speed up their process of fitting into an organization and making them feel welcomed, whereas managers usually help new hires with role-related advice and career development.

2. Chat about anything under the sun

Employees aren’t likely to buy in to being a buddy if the process is rigid and scripted. Allow employees to set aside time for a regular buddy catch-up to talk about anything and everything. It doesn’t have to always be work-related topics, it could be how they spent their weekends or a new hobby they picked up recently. The purpose of an onboarding buddy is to bond and form positive connections with each other. By fostering such human connections, it promotes employee productivity, engagement, and retention.

3. Onboarding buddy system is mutually beneficial

As new hires learn more about the organization from their buddies, it’s also a good opportunity for the onboarding buddy to build better conversational and leadership skills. Teaching others can also strengthen their own knowledge base, enabling buddies to develop a deeper level of expertise. A strong buddy system promotes individual growth when they feel comfortable sharing experiences and ideas (both inside and outside the work setting). With a high level of engagement and motivation, both parties are more likely to stay in the organization for a longer period of time.


Try implementing the buddy system for your next new hire! Prior to his/her start date, match an employee to the new hire and introduce them to each other. Once that is completed, set up bi-weekly check-ins between the buddy and new hire - after which they can adjust to their own liking. To gain valuable feedback on what is and isn’t working, organize short, monthly surveys. 

Building a buddy system for hybrid and remote onboarding is not a difficult task. We have to understand that the most important thing a new hire needs is support. Having someone to hold their hands, so as to ensure that they have a positive and fruitful first few months on the job.


Looking for a comprehensive guide to provide a better onboarding experience for new joiners? Check out our 90-Day Onboarding Guide below.




Tags: Remote Work, Employee Experience