Having a buddy

Friday June 21, 2019

At the university where I work, our department initiated a "buddy program" to increase retention of our administrative staff.

The buddy program provides support from Day 1 to the new hire. The buddy, a volunteer admin., greets the new hire, sets up a one hour weekly meeting during the first month, to go for a walk, have coffee and to have informal, personal conversations, rather than only focusing on the new hire's work duties. There are other admins who provide support to teach the software and day to day work activities. The buddy is officially providing support for six months so it is a long-term commitment.

The new hire has told us that this program has many benefits. She feels part of our community from Day 1. She participates in social events (Monday coffee, Icecream socials, kickball matches...) in our department by being introduced to the other admins with her buddy. Each day she knows there is support for her on many levels which diminishes the fear that we all feel when we start a new job.

Wouldn't be great if we had "buddy programs" in other settings: ie. New students starting College, which can be really scary for most students living alone for the first time on campus. A "buddy program" would also be beneficial in schools, to identify and prevent bullying and making new students who transfer to a new school, become part of the community starting on Day 1.

It could be used in re-entry to civilian life for war veterans, for prisoners leaving jail, and also for patients leaving rehab and other programs dealing with mental health. I could especially see this "buddy program" being set up in nursing homes and other residences for the elderly.

I truly believe that being alone, feeling isolated is a PRIMARY factor in causing continued mental health issues, like depression and social anxiety. Do you think you could implement a "buddy System" in your work setting, or if a new neighbor moves into your neighborhood?

It seems idealist but it is worth thinking about it.

Christine G
A Moodscope member.

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