The term “Buddy System” originated in the safety industry and has been used consistently for the mutual safety of employees for many years. Buddying relationships within Health and Social Care are primarily set up to support new starters into an organisation or service, or during the first months of transition into a new role. Arguably managers play a critical role in shaping employees’ first weeks and months, but a broader team effort can enrich the experience for the new starter. A team buddy is usually not the line manager; the buddy is an addition to this role and is described as a supportive colleague and a friendly face.
The “Buddy” may utilise coaching or mentoring skills but this is not an essential prerequisite for the role. Being a positive and knowledgeable team member with good communication skills is however essential.
Informal/ flexible relationship
Time-limited with a key focus on smooth assimilation into the new work environment
It is not the buddy’s role to provide career development. They may provide social advice
The buddy may initially take the lead in providing information and direction
A buddy needs to be familiar with the service/team/organisation and happy to share their knowledge
More formal/ structured
It May be an ongoing relationship that can last for long periods of time, sometimes as long as the employee life cycle
Tends to focus on professional/career development
The agenda is set by the mentee; the mentor provides guidance
Mentor tends to be a more senior person with experience/ skills in a relevant area
In the document, “Caring for Doctors, Caring for patients,” West & Coia (2019), stated that, “Doctors’ wellbeing must be supported at the start of their careers when they face a steep learning curve.” This is equally the case for all of our Health and Social Care professionals and colleagues working across LLR where Buddying Systems are both supported and encouraged.
The role of the buddy will vary depending on the needs of the individual, but may include:
- Helping your new colleague to navigate their way around the department and the site this could include short tours
- Showing them how to do aspects of their role
- Answering questions — often more than once
- Provide information, signpost information
- Introductions to other colleagues who are important to their role
- Help to understand the formal and informal culture and structures within the organisation or service
- Encourage questions about any aspects of the role
- A space to discuss challenges, difficulties or frustrations
- A sense of belonging and team/social support eg. arranging to go for coffee or lunch sometime