The buddy system is a procedure in which two people, the “buddies”, operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other.
As per Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the phrase “buddy system” goes as far back as 1942. Webster goes on to define the buddy system as “an arrangement in which two individuals are paired (as for mutual safety in a hazardous situation).”
The buddy system is basically working together in pairs in a large group or alone. Both the individuals have to do the job. The job could be to ensure that the work is finished safely or the skill/learning is transferred effectively from one individual to the other.
In adventurous or dangerous activities, where buddies are often required, the main benefit of the system is improved safety; each may be able to prevent the other becoming a casualty or rescue the other in a crisis.
When this system is used as part of training or the induction of newcomers to an organization, the less experienced buddy learns more quickly from close and frequent contact with the experienced buddy than when operating alone.
The buddy system is used in the United States Armed Forces, and referred to by various names in each branch (“Wingmen” in the Air Force, “Battle Buddies” in the Army, “Shipmates” in the Navy), as well as the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA
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It is also used by religious organisations like the LDS Church. Members on mission form a companionship constituted by two or sometimes more missionaries, which are not allowed to be alone for a two-year time period: “Stay Together. Never be alone. It is extremely important that you stay with your companion at all times.”
The buddy system is used in new employee induction for assisting with the formalities in an organization. The period could be from a month to two months. The buddy helps in acclimatizing the new employee to the culture and day to day aspects of working, in a shorter period of time. The buddy helps the new employee to become knowledgeable about department practices and organizational culture in a shorter period. The purpose of assigning new employees with a buddy is to help welcome employees and reaffirms their decision to join the organization. It provides new employees with a reliable, motivated, single point-of-contact for their basic questions regarding their work experience. The buddy system is an effective method to provide support, monitor stress, and reinforce safety procedures.
The buddy system is also informally used by school-aged children, especially on field trips. Assigning each student a buddy provides an extra measure of safety and removes some of the burden of keeping an eye on a large number of children in an unfamiliar environment from the supervising adults.