Starting a new job is both extremely exciting and stressful. Though the job may be a great opportunity, getting used to a new position, responsibilities, environment, and people can often be overwhelming.
During the transition period, a new hire passes through different phases. An employee’s acclimatization to the organization, familiarization with the company’s environment, and adaptation to its culture are vital to his or her success. Any challenge in these categories may lead to a delay in settling down and becoming productive.
We believe a successful onboarding goes beyond just sending them a welcome mail. We try to create an amazing experience that helps new hires understand how the company works, the vision, culture and their role. In Kovai.co, besides providing new joiners with a welcome kit that makes them feel special, we also provide experiences including an exclusive interaction with the founder over a cup of coffee within a month of their joining, a couple of rounds of introduction to all the other people at the office.
HR studies show that besides wanting on-the-job training and a proper idea of their job and management, new joiners want more attention and recognition through some form of a mentor program. They expect a friendly environment where they can get socialized with their peers easily.
One of the ways we chose to implement the above was to introduce the Buddy program.
What is the Buddy program?
It is a decades-old onboarding method known to be highly effective in helping new joiners settle down. There are studies by Microsoft that found 23% of new joiners with buddies happier with their onboarding experience and 73% indicating that having a buddy at work made them more productive at work.
Under this program, a “Buddy”, a well-settled existing employee takes over a portion of the onboarding process of a new joinee. They help make introduction to team members in the initial days, showing them the various facilities and help them with some of the processes at the work environment.
Buddy program at Kovai.co
We introduced the Buddy program at Kovai.co on April 1. We assigned every new joiner a “buddy”. A buddy who can help them transition into the company’s culture and functioning.
Who can be a buddy?
Ideally, someone who has been with us for at least one year and from the same department, so they can assist them with day-to-day aspects. They would offer encouragement, knowledge resources, guidance in the work process, policy and Kovai.co’s culture.
For this, they should practice and exhibit Kovai.co’s values, be extroverted to encourage open communication and a strong performer, so that they are confident of guiding and helping new hires.
When is the buddy assigned?
All the new hires of Kovai.co will be assigned with a buddy on Day 1. The purpose of new employees being assigned a buddy is to help welcome employees and reaffirm that their decision to Kovai.co was the right one. It provides newbies with a reliable, motivated, single point of contact for their basic questions regarding their work experience at Kovai.co.
It also helps establish orientation as a process, rather than a single learning event. Having a buddy helps new hires navigate the organization’s unspoken cultural norms, build up their networks, and get deeper context about the organization, all of which leads to them feeling more engaged, confident, and productive. Open conversations with Buddy stimulate exchange of ideas, innovative thinking, and creativity that reduce the initial confusion and uncertainty faced by all new employees.
How buddies implement the above
We advise buddies to invite the newbie to have lunch with them at the cafeteria in the initial few days. If convenient, they also sometimes call or drop a text to check through the first few weeks to check on how they’re settling in, find their tasks, and any roadblocks they face.
Impact of the Buddy program
We have received great feedback so far. Rajesh Kandhasamy who joined as a technical lead, says the program helped him get things done quickly and get started with work. “My buddy also made me comfortable with the environment,” he said.
Divya Sreenivasan, who joined us a software engineer, said she found the program helping her settle down easily. “For any new joiner, identifying that one person who could help them sail through the initial phase would be the first task. But when your organization does that job for you, the rest of the things settle down easily,”.
There is solid research showing that having friends at work can increase the chances of the business being successful and employees being happy. We hope that our Buddy program is the first step in that direction.