Developing an Onboarding Partner Relationship - Human Resources at Ohio State

Manager Guide to Onboarding New Employees

for managers of staff employees

Developing an Onboarding Partner Relationship

What is an Onboarding Partner?

A new employee’s onboarding is greatly enhanced by assigning an onboarding partner, a fellow employee (other than the manager) who provides advice and guidance on the different aspects of working at Ohio State. An onboarding partner is also a “sounding board” who offers encouragement as the new employee acclimates to Ohio State’s culture and environment.

Selection Criteria and Process

The successful onboarding partner is an employee who understands Ohio State’s culture and environment (has been at Ohio State for at least one year) and wants to be an onboarding partner.

Additional criteria include:

  • Time to be accessible and available to the employee
  • Familiar with employee’s role and work unit (but doesn’t have to be part of the work unit)
  • A solid performer
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Exemplifies Ohio States values
  • Demonstrates patience and empathy
  • Well regarded and trusted by others
  • Able to provide honest and thoughtful feedback
  • Good listener
  • Able to maintain confidentiality

Individuals can volunteer to be considered as an onboarding partner or recommended by others. The unit/department’s human resource professionals and/or the hiring manager can make the final choice based on the selection criteria.

Onboarding Partner Responsibilities

In assisting a new employee acclimating to Ohio State, an onboarding partner serves as a valuable resource by creating a trusting relationship and maintaining confidentiality.

Responsibilities include:

  • Providing information on policies and procedures.
  • Identifying resources in the workplace.
  • Familiarizing the employee to Ohio State’s culture, norms and unwritten guidelines.
  • Introducing the employee to others in the college/unit and throughout Ohio State.
  • Describing how the team prefers to communicate. For instance, how and when do they use instant message or chats, email, phone, video calls or dropping by a cubicle?
  • Taking the employee on an expanded tour of the workplace and campus.
  • Answering questions and referring the employee to the appropriate resources.
  • Listening to the employee as they share their successes and challenges.

Suggested Structure

Ideally, there is a formal, six-month relationship between the onboarding partner and the new employee. Toward the end of the six months, they can discuss if and how to continue their relationship outside of the structured onboarding partner role.

On the employee’s first or second day, introduce the onboarding partner and employee. This introduction can be facilitated by your unit/department HR or by you. Discuss the onboarding partner’s role and responsibilities and answer any questions.

Ensure the onboarding partner and employee meet during the first week, perhaps for breakfast or lunch. Allow the onboarding partner and employee to decide on the frequency, length, topics and method of interaction between the two of them. The structure will vary. What’s important is that the arrangement is clearly defined and works for both the employee and the onboarding partner. Below is a sample schedule:

Week 1:

  • Meet for an hour (perhaps over breakfast or lunch, virtually or in person).
  • Learn about each other’s background, experience, interests, etc.
  • Decide on the most important and relevant things to cover.
  • Respond to any immediate questions the employee may have.
  • Agree on frequency, length and method of communication.

Months 1 and 2:

  • Meet weekly for a half-hour (in person if possible).
  • Be available for phone conversations and email.
  • Take employee on a campus tour.
  • Introduce employee to other Ohio State colleagues.

Months 3 and 4:

  • Meet biweekly for a half-hour (mix of in person and by phone).
  • Be available for phone conversations and email.
  • Have a check-in with employee, onboarding partner and manager.
  • Invite employee to relevant Ohio State business or social events and introduce them to others.

Months 5 and 6:

  • Meet monthly for an hour (in person if possible).
  • Continue introducing employee to colleagues and inviting employee to relevant business or social events.
  • Decide if and how to continue the onboarding partner relationship.
  • Have a wrap-up with employee, onboarding partner and manager.

Provide and go through the following “Onboarding Partner Suggestions and Tips” with the prospective onboarding partner.