An Onboarding Buddy
The aim of an onboarding buddy is to support new employees to ensure they feel welcomed and settle into their role by introducing them to various aspects of the University community. A well structured, systematic induction programme led by the line manager should be tailored to the needs and requirements of the new person and their role. The allocation of a buddy to help support a new member of staff in the early stages of their employment with the University can ensure a smooth start through the initial few weeks and months in their new role and can improve employee retention. Note that it can take six months or longer for a new staff member to be fully confident in their role so an onboarding buddy should be prepared to be available to the new staff member for at least the first six months.
The role of the buddy
The aim is to pair new employees of the University with an experienced staff member to assist them effectively transition into their new role, where this is felt to be appropriate. Although informal in nature, the buddy can provide valuable assistance and guidance during the induction process.
The main purpose of the buddy is to:
- provide an informal point of reference and friendly face in the first few weeks/months of the job;
- reduce the initial confusion and uncertainty faced by new starters;
- assist in answering day-to-day and general queries on orientation and basic operational issues in a timely and non-bureaucratic way;
- encourage communication and prevent new employee feeling isolated;
- connect new employees with other staff members;
- support the induction process.
A buddy can support a range of activities and discussions that focus on orientating the new employee to the University/Division/Faculty/School and their local team. There are a range of activities or discussions that may include, for example:
- introducing the new staff member to other people;
- orientating them to the campus, teams and the local work space;
- answering general questions to assist in the new employee navigating through their new work environment;
- explaining local processes as relevant;
- directing them to where they can find out more information about specific aspects of the University employee community.
Roles and Responsibilities
The line manager should:
- lead the onboarding and induction process for their new employee;
- identify an appropriate buddy;
- brief the buddy on their role and the key aspects they would like the buddy to cover with the new employee (note that we have developed a resource to help describe general expectations of a buddy);
- brief the new employee on their first day about the role of the buddy and complete introductions;
- support the buddy and new employee in making time to fulfill the key activities agreed as part of the buddy programme.
The buddy should:
- meet with the new employee on their first day (where possible);
- work with the new employee in a supportive way that fosters a positive experience and orientation to the University and the local team;
- provide advice, information and guidance, where appropriate;
- direct the new employee to the line manager as appropriate if specific needs or requirements emerge which require the support of the line manager;
- help with orientation and networking (e.g. introductions to colleagues, identifying resources, providing a physical tour);
- being accessible to the new employee during the first initial few weeks (as appropriate).
The new employee should:
- discuss with their line manager how the buddy can support their induction process;
- identify the topics / questions which they would like more information and discuss the means for support with their line manager (e.g. buddy, training, line manager, etc.);
- plan and agree topics with the buddy as a key aspect of the induction process;
- respect the buddy’s time by agreeing the terms of the support (e.g. will they ask questions as they come up or have a catch up session at the end of the day?).
|Buddy identified within the team||Line manager||At least 1 week before start date.|
|Buddy is briefed||Line manager||At least 1 week before start date.|
|New employee meets their buddy||Line manager and Buddy||Day 1*|
|Monitoring induction process including buddy support||Line manager||Periodically within induction process|
|Informal check in with the new employee and buddy regarding helpfulness of the buddy arrangement||Line manager||At the end of the buddy process|
*may be appropriate to make contact sooner as agreed with the Line Manager or after Day 1 depending upon work schedules.
Selection of a Buddy
The buddy is responsible for helping new employees to settle into their new team during their first few weeks. The buddy should be selected by the line manager and should be:
- an experienced and competent staff member from within the same team as the new employee;
- ideally in a similar role or grade;
- someone who has the knowledge and experience relevant to the role and workplace;
- a good communicator;
- a role model who demonstrates commitment to the University’s values.
The buddy should be identified prior to the new employees start date. It may even be appropriate for the line manager and buddy to agree that the buddy will make contact with the new employee prior to the agreed start date to provide that warm welcome.
Although the buddy arrangement is informal, it can be a key element of the induction process. The duration of the buddy arrangement will vary and should be available for the new employee for as long as required. It is anticipated that it may last for at least six months, if necessary, with the requirement for support reducing as the new employee becomes orientated to the workplace and role. The line manager can work with the new employee and buddy to determine appropriate support and timing.
Frequency and Timing of Buddy Sessions
Sessions can vary in structure from unplanned ‘drop in’ sessions with quick questions through to planned discussions to review particular aspects of the workplace (e.g. tour of workplace, explaining a specific process, etc.). It is anticipated that initial sessions between the buddy and the new employee will be of longer duration as there is a greater need for information. As the new employee settles into their role the time commitment on the buddy is likely to decrease. The buddy should be easily accessible by the new employee to allow them to ask questions that may seem obvious, but to new employees having answers to these questions can make the induction process more effective.