Buddy System

Enhancing Social Integration

A buddy system is an onboarding method used mostly for newcomers to an organization; a buddy is an existing employee who can provide information and informal support to the newcomer during their first weeks/months in the new job. The goal is to facilitate newcomers’ social integration into their team/Section/Group and the Department. Work-related aspects are covered by the supervisor and other colleagues in the Department, such as through the IT induction.

At CERN , thus also in IT,  fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment is crucial for the success of our projects and the well-being of our team members. The buddy system plays a vital role in ensuring that newcomers feel socially integrated in their teams and subsequently into our department. Let's delve deeper into how this system facilitates social integration.

Who is involved?

The Buddy system focuses on a team effort to successfully integrate newcomers in their respective teams(sections/groups). The people involved are:

  • Buddy coordinator
  • Section leader
  • Supervisor
  • Buddy

While all of us  are familiar with the roles of the Section leader and Supervisor, let’s explain below the roles of the Buddy coordinator and Buddy.

The Role of the Buddy coordinator

The buddy coordinator is the person (or team of people) who ensures that any newcomer joining their respective team(s) has a buddy assigned to them and the team/section/group’s onboarding process is well planned ahead of the newcomer’s arrival.

They provide support and feedback to all the involved parties, and most importantly to the buddy, especially if it is their first time in this role. Moreover, they monitor the onboarding and help whenever needed.

In the end of the process, they gather feedback from the buddy and the newcomer in order to improve the team’s onboarding process.

The Role of the Buddy

The buddy, appointed to accompany a newcomer during their initial two months, supports them in their social integration by:

Facilitating connections: The buddy acts as a bridge, introducing the newcomer to colleagues within the team/section/group/department and facilitating informal interactions. By doing so, they help the newcomer build a network of colleagues, fostering a sense of belonging.

Providing cultural insights: CERN's IT Department consists of a diverse workforce with varying cultural backgrounds. The buddy, being familiar with the team’s culture, customs, and unwritten rules, can offer valuable insights to the newcomer, aiding in their assimilation into the social fabric of the team.

Encouraging participation: It's not uncommon for newcomers to feel hesitant about engaging in social activities or expressing themselves in meetings. The buddy serves as an encourager, nudging the newcomer to participate in team events, discussions, and brainstorming sessions, thereby helping them overcome any initial reluctance or shyness.

Onboarding timeline

A sample onboarding timeline, in the framework of the Buddy system, can be seen in the image below: