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Buddy Up!


You have a new hire: congratulations! Recruiting, interviewing, pre-employment drug screens, training, and onboarding are complete, and it’s now time to set the new hire free to represent your company. But are you confident that these tasks were not only completed, but completed to the standard that ensures your new hire will stay . . . for longer than their initial 90 days?!

We’ve all read articles and heard statistics about the cost of turnover: $3,328 to replace a $10/hour employee and $8,000 to replace a $40,000 per year employee, according to a CAP study. I don’t know of any business with a line item in their budget for this type of expense!

A recent study conducted by ABS shows that 69% of employees who stay three years or more had a great onboarding experience. So the question we should all be asking ourselves is “What can we do to ensure our onboarding process is effective and doesn’t end on the last day of training?”

Throughout my many years in HR, I’ve found that the companies who are most successful with their onboarding, and therefore retention, have a buddy program. Each new hire is assigned to a high-performing, long-term employee who is either in the same position or who used to hold the same position. Starting a new job and learning the position is stressful enough, but questions that aren’t covered in the training are best answered by a buddy. John Cooper, IT Project Manager for the National Institutes of Health, says, “Implementing a buddy system can be one part of an effective onboarding program that provides new employees with a reliable, motivated, ongoing, single point of contact for questions regarding work processes. This socialization and support can make an enormous, positive difference in early performance, social integration, and long-term retention.”

Your company’s buddy program can be as basic or as involved as you like. When employees start new jobs, having a coworker looking out for them and helping them get settled can make a great difference in whether they are integrated quickly or if they feel left out in the cold.

The benefits aren’t just for new employees. As a manager, think about how nice it would be to have assistance with the simple day-to-day questions that are very important but can interrupt the flow of your day. Setting up buddies also is good for your current employees. It keeps them connected, shows that you think highly of them, and demonstrates that you understand the importance of having a team that works well together. As your new hires work their way to becoming high-performing employees, they will in turn be great buddies to the next new hire.

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