Most CEOs would say their companies don't train and orient new employees as well as they'd like -- including, until last year, Sally Tassani. Her solution? The buddy system. Each new hire at Tassani Communications Inc., Tassani's Chicago advertising and public-relations firm, is paired with a veteran employee at a similar job level, usually from another department. The buddy answers questions, makes introductions, and assays the ins and outs of Tassani corporate culture.

"We were frustrated that we weren't providing adequate job training, especially when going through fast growth," says president and founder Tassani. "New people really need someone they can go to and say, 'This is what they said, but I don't understand.' When the buddy is a peer from another department, new employees aren't as inhibited about asking questions."

New employees usually avail themselves of their buddy for a couple of months. "It's a great way to get everybody in the company involved with training," Tassani adds. "And it doesn't take a lot of any one person's time or money."