When I was in the military, the buddy system was used all the time. People used to be assigned a buddy to learn from as part of getting a new person acclimated to a new unit. As an employee retention expert and employee retention trainer, I find it is one of the best employee retention strategies there is. Someone who can show your new employee the ropes and teach them how things get done in the organization is crucial to having the new employee become an integral part of the organization. It also reduces your employee turnover.
What amazes me is that few organizations use it. When a new person comes into the organization, immediately assign someone that will stay close the “newbie” who tells them where to go to get resources, introduces them to co-workers, serves as a confidant and a whole host of other crucial elements that drive the socialization of that person into the organization. The key to a good buddy is someone who is positive, wants to help, and is able to train effectively. Making the first 6 months as painless as possible is important to driving excellent employee retention.
The buddy is usually a co-worker, not someone that is at the level above like you see in many mentoring systems. This person shows the new person how things get done in the organization which significantly reduces the strain on the immediate supervisor in acclimating the person. It does not relieve the supervisor of ensuring the person is successful but is another piece in the employee retention strategies. This is particularly important if the organization is in a major hiring effort and the supervisor has multiple people entering their department at the same time.
Starting a buddy system is not difficult. It does not have to be complex. It is, however, a powerful weapon to have in your employee retention arsenal. If you want to take control of your employee retention strategies and not leave things to chance, it is time for you to “buddy up.”