What Is a Working Buddy? (And How to Create a Buddy System)

By Indeed Editorial Team

20 December 2021

Employers can use different techniques and systems to onboard new employees and make them feel comfortable and welcome. Many companies use a work buddy system to pair new team members with existing employees for smooth integration. Learning what buddy systems are and how to implement them can be helpful in creating a welcoming atmosphere in your workplace. In this article, we explain what a workplace buddy system is, along with its benefits and how to establish one.

What is a working buddy?

A working buddy is an existing team member who works alongside a new employee during their initial period in the organisation. This existing team member is often in the same team or department as the new employee, and their work buddy helps them settle into their new role. This may include guiding the new team member on corporate processes, procedures, culture and social events. If workplace buddies are in the same department, the existing employee can also assist the new team member in understanding the team processes and goals.

The buddy system can facilitate a mutually beneficial relationship. While the existing employee can help the new team members get acquainted with the business, the new team member might have fresh knowledge and insights that can help the existing employee and the company. Employers can encourage both parties to share information and grow each other's capabilities. Buddy systems can last as long as the new team member finds helpful. They typically end once the new employee feels comfortable in their new workplace and confident in their tasks.

Related: Guide to Company Culture

Benefits of a workplace buddy system

Buddy systems can help establish essential working relationships for new employees. The guidance of a buddy system can offer many significant benefits for employees and the organisation. Below is a list of some positive outcomes of using a workplace buddy system:

Welcomes new team members

Workplace buddy systems can help new employees feel comfortable and welcome in their new position. Pairing them with an existing employee allows them to develop an initial working relationship. Their buddy can answer questions, introduce them to other colleagues and show them around the workplace. This immediate knowledge of the workplace can make a new beginning easier.

Provides training opportunities

The processes and procedures of an organisation can be unique. A buddy can help train a new employee in company-specific tasks. They can also show them where to find supplies, who their points of contact are and best practices for completing tasks. When buddies work in the same department, they can provide more specific help.

Streamlines the transition

New employees can learn company expectations from their workplace buddy. Buddies can provide feedback about their work and performance. The existing employee may offer tips on how to improve their work if necessary. The support of a workplace buddy can help them fulfil their responsibilities and perform at the expected level quickly.

Related: The Performance Management Process: The Ultimate Guide

Improves workplace morale

Workplace morale can thrive when colleagues have social connections. By providing new employees with a partner to connect with and talk to, they can integrate into the workplace culture faster. They can quickly get to know other employees and create more workplace relationships. This can lead to employees who enjoy being involved in the life of the organisation and improve the overall workplace morale.

Increases support and productivity

New employees can discover the details of their roles faster when paired with a work buddy. They may be more productive when they understand how to do their job efficiently. For employers, new employees who learn quickly can create a more efficient organisation.

Increases employee retention

A workplace buddy can help new employees feel comfortable and more fulfilled in the company. A buddy system can also enhance general workplace relationships, which can mean all employees feel more connected and happy at work. These factors may increase employee retention. Retaining employees can be important for a business's success. Keeping team members can mean spending less time on training new employees. It also allows them to maintain a team familiar with the business operations.

Improves business processes

New employees often come with a fresh perspective and unique knowledge from their previous experiences. Existing employees might learn new efficient methods of working. New employees can often be in a suitable position to recommend new business processes and procedures to increase efficiency.

How to set up a buddy system at work

There are some important things to consider to get the most out of a buddy system. Below are ways to set up a buddy system in the workplace:

1. Identify goals for the system

Determining what you wish to accomplish from a buddy system can help you create beneficial partnerships. Goals can guide the existing employee in what they can show new employees and help them plan training around the expected outcomes. It's a good idea to set goals that are measurable and achievable. Goals might include ensuring the new employee:

  • knows their point of contact for different departments

  • understands their daily duties

  • learns where to find supplies

  • has a company email address and knows how to use it

  • learns the processes to complete their tasks

2. Provide buddies with expectations

Ensuring both buddies in the partnership know what to expect from the relationship can help the system succeed. Consider explaining the buddy's work history to the existing employee. This can help them provide guidance at the right level. You can explain the expectations of the buddy system by detailing:

  • how often they can expect to converse

  • how long their formal partnership may last

  • the types of questions they can ask their buddy

  • who to go to if they have any concerns with the buddy system

3. Pair employees with a relevant buddy

To get the most out of the buddy partnership, you can pair up buddies with similar responsibilities. This can help new team members understand the expectations and how to perform the best in their roles. You can also consider the characteristics of existing employees when determining the right buddy for a new team member. Consider choosing someone who has strong performance and a positive mindset.

4. Use available buddies

A buddy system can work well when the existing employee buddy is accessible. New employees may require their help at random times to overcome issues in their daily tasks. Ensuring new members promptly get help from their buddy may streamline their integration into the company. You can also assign a backup contact so the new employee gets help if their first buddy is busy.

5. Pair similar personalities together

Buddy systems can work best when partners share characteristics and personality traits. It can provide the best chance of buddies forming a positive working relationship. Similar personalities can also usually understand each other's work styles. This means the new employee might relate to the process and work ethic of the existing employee. It can allow them to understand better and integrate into workplace procedures.

Related: Guide: 16 Personality Types

6. Establish guidelines for accountability

During the onboarding phase, new employees might not work as efficiently as other employees. You can establish guidelines to keep employees accountable. This can help ensure they're moving towards the required performance efficiently. Guidelines may include reasonable dates for deliverables, such as the following:

  • a date for their first solo submission

  • a time frame to learn software

  • a period before they can fulfil all the job responsibilities

Positive characteristics for a buddy

Buddies typically manage their existing workload while performing their buddy duties. While all employees can be workplace buddies, there are various characteristics that can be particularly beneficial for a workplace buddy to have. Employees with excellent soft skills, for example, can make exceptional work buddies. Some characteristics of a good buddy may include:

  • adequate experience at the workplace and proven competence in processes

  • patience and reliability

  • a positive work ethic and attitude

  • involvement and familiarity with company culture

  • proficiency in their role

  • able to relate to the new employee's role

  • personable attitude and willingness to help others

  • willingness to seek help from others

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Support for workplace buddies

Assigning workplace buddies to current employees can increase their existing workload. Providing them with support while they help a new employee may be essential. This support might look like:

  • delegating fewer tasks to them while they're working with a new employee

  • relaxing their workload or scheduled meeting times

  • allowing them more time to complete tasks and assignments

  • giving them the option to avoid activities that don't relate to their work

  • reducing their availability to assist others while they're primarily available to their buddy