By Joy Simon, Care Coordination Manager
It’s not easy being the new hire — navigating a new office, new people, and new processes is just as nerve-wracking as it is exciting.
Onboarding can make or break the overall experience, with the first 90 days being absolutely vital to employee's success and how they perceive the organization.
Research shows that 64% of employees are likely to leave a new job within their first year due to a poor onboarding experience. Unfortunately, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. This can lead to turnover, costing companies 1.5–2 times the employee’s salary.
Companies need a solution that benefits both employees and the organization. I have the privilege of helping evolvedMD run a Buddy Program to ensure an exceptional onboarding experience for all new hires.
What is evolvedMD’s Buddy Program?
evolvedMD Buddies Lunch
Our Buddy Program pairs each new hire with an employee that the leadership team believes embodies evolvedMD’s values. This two-month partnership:
- Encourages Buddies to meet weekly to establish rapport
- Empowers the new hire to build connections with other employees
- Introduces new hires to our people-centric culture that prioritizes self-care
- Enables high-performing employees to give advice and help new hires navigate unfamiliar work environments
- Promotes personal and professional development
- Fosters inclusion from day one
Our buddies are there to guide and be a warm welcome throughout onboarding. In practice, our Buddies meet weekly over coffee, lunch, happy hour, or a 30-minute office check-in to catch up, answer questions regarding processes, offer encouragement, discuss self-care and wellness, and talk about all things evolvedMD.
Why Should Leaders Invest in a Buddy Program?
Quite simply, employees who experienced effective onboarding are more committed to their organization, feel strongly integrated into their company’s culture, and are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
In our experience we’ve:
- Strengthened workplace relationships, fostering inclusion and meaningful connections inside and outside the workplace
- Made the onboarding process more inviting and engaging, increasing retention in an industry plagued by high turnover
- Bolstered our renowned people-centric culture, earning us a Best Place to Work nomination by the Phoenix Business Journal, and an IMPACT Awards Finalist nomination
“It’s been great building upon an internal relationship with my Buddy [Ellie] through our fun check-ins over coffee or lunch!” said Jazmine Cole, evolvedMD’s Team Coordinator. “We’ve even continued these offsite meetings as a way to remove ourselves from our day-to-day routine and connect/continue to check in with one another.”
Cole’s Buddy, Marketing Coordinator Ellie Kalberer, explained, “Starting a new job has always been nerve wracking for me. But having Jazmine there for me from the beginning to build a relationship eased my anxiety. While everyone here is incredibly welcoming, it was comforting knowing that I had someone to check in with and connect with off the bat. We’ve built such a great friendship over the months!”
Ellie Kalberer, left, and Jazmine Cole.
How Can Leaders Launch Their Own Buddy Program?
Running a successful Buddy Program is not as simple as randomly pairing new hires with high-performing employees. It takes intentional work requiring thought and alignment with your company’s culture.
Here are my recommendations for launching an effective Buddy Program at your company:
- Define the purpose and desired outcomes: Buddy Programs are designed to improve the onboarding experience, but I encourage you to dive deeper. Think about what you truly want this program to accomplish: Reduce turnover? Enhance productivity and engagement? Improve job satisfaction? All of the above? Choose two or three realistic goals. For example, you could choose to maintain 90+% retention in the year following completion of the Buddy Program.
- Develop intentional program guidelines: Define what a Buddy is and what a Buddy isn’t. For example, make it clear that a Buddy is not a mentor or a manager, just a reliable, motivated, and single point of contact for basic questions regarding the new hire’s experience. Also, provide suggestions for how Buddies can connect with new hires, such as a brief touchpoint overview with suggested activities. Finally, make sure you identify key characteristics of a Buddy — maybe someone who encourages open communication and exemplifies your organization’s values.
- Get buy-in from leadership and management: As with any initiative, present the program’s overall purpose, outcomes, and guidelines to leadership and management to get their feedback. You’ll also want their help identifying high-performing employees and matching Buddies with new hires to achieve desired outcomes.
- Request continuous feedback: We launched our Buddy Program in early 2022, and are constantly finding ways to improve the overall experience. For example, we request feedback from Buddy pairings in a survey, and thoughtfully consider their feedback to improve the experience for future Buddy pairings.
If you wish you worked for a company that prioritizes your onboarding experience, find a company with a Buddy Program like evolvedMD’s. If you’re a mental health professional, then you won’t find a more supportive organization from day one than ours. It’s not just our Buddy Program but our genuine commitment to overall engagement, continuous learning, and wellness that makes us who we are.
Want to join a company that prioritizes
your experience? Join evolvedMD.
More Buddy Testimonials from evolvedMD Employees
Melissa Astuto, Behavioral Health Manager
“As a new employee, I really loved being able to check in with my buddy every week and being able to get additional help when needed. It was a great feeling knowing that I was being supported in so many ways as a new BHM. As a Buddy, I really enjoyed being able to be a support for my buddy as she transitioned into her role as a BHM. It has been lovely getting to know my buddy on a personal level as well as professional level as well.”
Nathan Bosworth, Recruiting Specialist
“The Buddy program was such a great way to start a new company. I never had to feel the typical “outsider looking in” feeling that comes with most new jobs. Having someone that I was able to create a connection with right away, giving me someone to come to with questions and to celebrate my wins with.”
Julianne Haddad, Behavioral Health Manager
“As a new employee, the buddy system has been so helpful. I was fortunate to be matched with someone I connected with right off the bat, which brought a great deal of comfort with the transition. My Buddy, Jade Zinser, has been and continues to be such an amazing support. Having someone knowledgeable to learn the ins and outs of a new job sets you up for success!”
Joy Simon, Care Coordination Manager