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Use “buddy for a week” to keep your new people safe.

Use “Buddy for a Week” to Keep Your New People Safe

By Josh Williams, Ph.D.

It’s tough being a new employee. There are procedures to learn, relationships to build, and new skills to figure out. On top of that, many jobs are full of hidden (and not so hidden) hazards that make people nervous. Proper onboarding helps acclimate new hires to their novel environment. Supplementing your safety onboarding with a formalized “buddy for a week” program accelerates this acclimation and gets employees up to speed more quickly and more safely.   

Real-life example: 

To formalize mentoring with new hires, an energy company in Tennessee implemented a “buddy for a week” system. Essentially, experienced employees (with high job knowledge and good attitudes for safety) spent an entire week with newer employees working together, eating together etc. This process improved rapport between newer and older employees and provided a great way for experienced employees to pass on specific craft knowledge in a direct, hands-on way. They also learned a few best practices from the younger employees.

“Buddy for a week” program:

Buddy for a week programs prompt experienced employees to be on their best behavior to set the right example for new hires. In sharing their knowledge, they may actually remind themselves of potential risks to avoid that they may have become numb to over the years. Newer employees learn safe ways to the job that aren’t detailed in a hands-on way in onboarding materials.

Also, buddy for a week programs set actively caring as the company norm. Older employees are taking new hires under their wings and showing them the ropes. This encourages helpful safety feedback if risky actions are observed. New employees learn that this type of peer safety feedback is normal and expected. As they grow in their roles, they’ll be more likely to offer this feedback to others. The net result is more open and honest safety feedback between employees on the job. This helps prevent serious injuries and fatalities. 

Call to Action: 

Establish a buddy for a week program to accelerate your onboarding, bolster teamwork, and encourage peer safety feedback. 

At Propulo, we work with leaders to implement mentoring and onboarding programs to keep your new employees safe.      

References:

Cooper, J. & Wight, J. (2014). Implementing a buddy system in the workplace. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2014—North America, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.   

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