The buddy system is a knowledge-sharing method used to hire new employees by assigning an existing employee as a buddy to a new employee to offer a better employee onboarding experience. New employees will have their own buddies to lead them for the first few weeks or months to make the new employees more comfortable with the organizational setup, and their job profiles.
Companies use buddy programs to acclimatize new employees or you can notice such programs in schools when local students are given responsibilities to be the buddy of international students. Information is exchanged with each other. The exchange of ideas enriches and empowers the organization by facilitating innovative thinking and allowing new employees to not only learn key things but also offer confidential feedback.
What Is Buddy System?
Definition: A buddy system is defined as an onboarding and knowledge-sharing practice used for the orientation of new employees in which existing employees are given the responsibilities of being the buddy of new employees to offer better onboarding experience, moral support, and work environment.
The buddy system is quite preferably used in the United States Armed Forces. It is popular with different names in each branch such as Wingmen” in the Air Force, “Shipmates” in the Navy, and “Battle Buddies” in the Army along with the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Boy Scouts of America.
The good buddy system should include peer responsibilities and a formal documented process outlining the issues they should address during the first weeks or months of a newly recruited employee.
The buddy system should also encourage new employees to share project management tips, tools, knowledge, and skills from their previous work experience. Knowledge sharing aims to incorporate new ideas and technologies that improve the organization.
Who Is a Buddy in a Company Culture?
A buddy works with a new employee during the first few months. They are a colleague who assists new employees in overcoming their first nerve-wracking time in a unique position.
He or she gives insights into the company’s day-to-day operations and helps a new worker to adapt more quickly to his or her new role.
Buddy usually guides new employees to the office, reviews procedures and guidelines, and is generally available to new employees to become accustomed to the company’s internal mechanics and culture.
Ideally, a buddy is a good communicator who can quickly inform and encourage new employees to express their thoughts and concerns in a safe environment. They must be the type of employee the organization is trying to duplicate.
Importance of Buddy System
Onboarding takes place with or without a formal orientation process. The real problem is the quality of the experience. According to a 2011 survey of onboarding practices by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), more than 80% of the companies surveyed offer formal or informal orientation programs for new employees using various methods.
Well-made onboarding lays the foundation for long-term success. If you provide employees with a batch of forms to fill out on the first day at the orientation, you may face future issues. This is where the buddy system comes in.
Implementing the buddy system is part of an effective onboarding program that provides new employees with a reliable, motivated, continuous, single point of contact for work process questions. This socialization and support can make a positive difference in initial performance, social integration, and long-term retention.
New project managers usually bring functional skills and industry knowledge to get the job done. That’s why you hired them in the first place. However, new employees need to understand the culture, specific products, and tools, and technologies before becoming truly productive employees.
The Buddy Program ensures that newly hired employees are quickly and effectively integrated into your organization. In addition, it can help already competent employees apply their skills and adapt rapidly to culture. The goal of socialization is to ensure that new project managers are comfortable and acceptable by building relationships with peers on the first day of their new job. The
Buddy System isn’t just about value for new hires. It can also be used to develop the leadership skills of existing employees. By talking to new employees, Buddy learns about the tools and techniques used by other companies, develops mentoring skills, and improves the management know-how that will ultimately help your company.
How to create a Buddy System
Some of the easy steps that will help you create an effective buddy system are-
1. Finalizing the framework of the onboarding process
The very first point you need to pay heed to is finalizing and writing down the purpose of your onboarding program.
You need to have clarity about the company or employee goals here. You should also be clear about the needed time each employee-buddy pairing should last and the rules that should guide and channelize their relationships.
2. Setting the expectations
It is essential to have well-defined and explained expectations for your buddy program. You can have a checklist of all the tasks and topics that should channelize the buddy systems within your organization.
These expectations can be introductions to different team members, the nitty-gritty of organizational communications, a tour of the office, needed information about processes and software used in the organization uses, and so forth.
3. Choosing participants
In the next step, you should find out the participants or existing employees who are ready to assist, guide, and empower new hires.
You should try to choose volunteers or participants from multiple departments. A good buddy system incorporates buddies who are responsible for serving a similar purpose, so they can share their day-to-day tasks with the new hires.
4. Choose buddies who match new employees
In the last step, it would be helpful for you to know the key personality traits and goals of the new hires, so you can pair them with the buddy who incorporates similar personalities and goals.
You should also try to find out the learning style that a new employee might prefer, and then you should pair him or her with a buddy who has a similar teaching style.
Characteristics to look for when Selecting Buddies
Substantial Achievement: Buddy is a good example and must have done well in his previous and current achievements.
1. Competence in a new position
The buddy may have previously held that position or performed a similar task.
2. Good communication skills
New employees need to work with effective communication methods and understand their needs through active listening.
3. Not a manager
The purpose of the buddy system is to connect people with other people with similar roles so that supervisors don’t become good buddies.
The buddy must have time to support someone else’s task. Wants to participate: It`s okay for people to turn down the opportunity to become a buddy. If they`re forced to participate, the new hire is seen as a burden on the buddy, which can have unintended consequences. Buddies aren`t meant to be supervisors or mentors.
Some of the key responsibilities that buddies are supposed to fulfill are-
- Teaching/or tutoring e.g. clearing doubts about a job position or explaining any unfamiliar task
- Guiding how to use tools or office equipment or get office supplies or consult IT department etc
- Letting them be aware company’s guidelines, culture, rules, regulations, and unwritten guidelines
- Sharing own experiences about how things are done in the organization
- Letting new employees get involved in social or informal activities like coffee, lunch, etc
Benefits of Buddy System in the Workplace
1. Make new employees feel welcome
Some people, no matter how unfamiliar they are, can succeed in any social situation with a click of anyone. However, some people need help. No one is left behind in the buddy system.
Anyone who might otherwise be a nervous wallflower can quickly feel welcomed and an important team member.
2. Training and Development
They are important to provide any formal training and development opportunities. But in these important early stages, the buddy system helps new employees learn some of the work and workplace cultures that would otherwise be taken for granted.
Buddy can be confident-not nervous, but confident. New employees can discuss progress and bookings in full confidentiality, and buddies can provide constructive feedback in an informal chat. New employees can reassure themselves that their work is going well as soon as possible and deal with things that go wrong sooner.
3. Happier and more productive
Imagine making new friends on the first day of work! Some people talk, share jokes, and drink coffee. The buddy system can build lasting partnerships.
And people with good relationships tend to be happy with their work. Great for both work atmosphere and business. According to the survey, satisfied employees are 12% more productive than dissatisfied employees.
4. Decreased staff turnover & improved employee retention
If you make friends like this early in the job, you may still be friends with them. There may even have been times when meeting this colleague was the only thing that kept you at work.
If your employees are too stressed, you are doing something wrong. Nonetheless, employees who feel valued as part of a functioning team which means employees who call their colleagues “friends” rather than “colleagues,” may survive in rough seas.
5. Optimized Organizations
The buddy system is utilized in new employee induction to help with organizational formality. The time frame might range from a month to two months.
The current employees assist the new employee in acclimating to the culture and day-to-day components of working in a shorter amount of time.
The buddy assists the new employee in learning about department processes and organizational culture in a shorter amount of time. The goal of pairing new workers with a buddy is to help them feel welcomed and to confirm their decision to join the business.
It gives new workers a dependable, dedicated, single point of contact for fundamental queries about their work experience.
Difference between a Buddy and a Mentor
You may define a mentor as an individual who is responsible for guiding a professional about his or her career. Mentors also offer feedback about the career trajectory of a professional.
While on the other hand, a buddy can be understood as an individual or existing employee with whom a new hire gets paired up during his or her onboarding. Buddies guide new employees through processes, methods, tasks, tools, and other aspects of their job profile and organizational setup.
To incorporate a buddy program for new hires requires some investment and must be handled with caution. However, implementing this type of program is neither difficult nor expensive. You just need to make sure you are willing to choose an efficient and compatible buddy for a new hire.
You should opt for a minimal set of documents to make the whole process hassle-free, plus you should set an end date for every buddy relationship. You need to watch for the things that do not work so you can guide both the existing and new employees.
All in all, a buddy system is highly effective in reducing the time a new hire requires to be comfortable in an organization. Hence, it leads to better satisfaction and greater retention.
What are your thoughts about the effectiveness of buddy systems in acclimatizing and improving the performance of new hires? Share your opinion with us in the comment section below.
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