Implementing a buddy system helps bridge the generation gap

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We have long suggested that pairing older and younger employees really works, because of the respect the two generations have for each other.
Finally, there is proof that this “buddy system” works to increase productivity and employee retention. Randstad, the Dutch-based staffing company, has apparently been “pairing” people since its inception 40 years ago. With a motto of “No one should be alone,” Frits Goldschmeding built his company on the premise that job sharing would optimize productivity. He wanted his sales agents to share one job and trade off responsibilities.
That original concept has now been refined to bridge the generation gap and help young people acclimate faster to Randstad’s jobs and work environment. Now a week at a time, one team member will make outside calls, while the other interviews potential “talent” and handles administrivia. The next week they trade responsibilities. The key is that one employee is a veteran and the other is a Millennial, mostly defined as those born after 1980.
We know that new 20-somethings often require high levels of attention and nurturing. The neat part of this “Unit System,” as Randstad calls it, is that older workers learn from younger workers as well. Of course, this system only works with “team players,” because the work and rewards are shared.
Initially brought to the United States during the late 1990s, this partnership concept was only fully integrated two years ago, when Randstad began recruiting employees in larger volumes. Of the 600 people hired last year, 420 were 20-something workers.
The bottom line for the company is a significant reduction in employee turnover, 20 percent below the industry standard.
“We have determined a clear connection between being in a unit and feeling more successful and productive,” said Genia Spencer, Randstad’s human resources executive. “Increases in productivity come from mutual accountability.”
Randstad is on the leading edge of this optimal use of human capital. During 2008 and beyond, expect to see more of this sharing and pairing to help Millennials to acclimate.
From The Herman Trend Alert, by Joyce Gioia-Herman, strategic business futurist. www.hermangroup.com