Surprisingly, when I review employee handbooks, I still see many businesses utilizing a new hire 90-day probationary period.
I remember years ago being hired by a company that placed all new hires on 90-day probation. Besides showing me where the bathroom was and introducing me to a few people, no formal evaluation was explained to me, nor was an indoctrination process used to help me get better acqauinted with the organization. I basically walked on pins and needles and when the 90-day period was over, I breathed a sigh of relief and then said, ‘now what?’.
Things have definitely changed recently and, in light of the great resignation and the difficulty employers are having in finding qualified people, telling someone they will be placed on probation upon hire is not a good recruiting strategy.
As if what I said above is not enough for businesses to reconsider the use of a probationary period, here are a few more:
- There’s nothing fundamentally different the day before a probationary period expires and the day after. Opponents would argue there’s no logical reason to draw an arbitrary line. Most areas in the United States have an at-will employment policy such that an employee can be fired with or without cause at any time—rendering such a probationary period moot.
- The implementation of a probationary period may create a situation in which an employer has created an implied guarantee that employees won’t be fired after the probationary period without cause. This could create a liability that didn’t otherwise exist, especially if the details of the probationary program are not carefully worded.
- Terminating an employee during the probationary period does not confer any additional legal protections.
When businesses tell me they want a probationary period in their handbooks, I ask them these questions:
- During the interview process are they using a targeted selection strategy, which includes questions to ensure the person has the skills and experience to do the job and the competencies needed to excel in that company’s culture?
- Are they running a background check on the candidate?
- Do they have a structured new hire orientation process?
- Has a week-by-week strategy been created to introduce the employees to key people within the organization, track perfromance against expecations, and give an overview of how different departments interrelate toward meeting the company’s common goals?
I find that businesses looking to terminate employees within 90 days many times have no one to blame but themselves for the failure. New hires want to feel as though they have made the right choice and that employers have realistic expectations for what will be a learning curve in the beginning. Most importantly, new hires, like all employees, want to feel valued.
Oh, and by the way, it costs, on average, $30,000 to replace an employee earning $60,000, so it would seem as though employers should be looking for ways to keep employees, not terminate them.
Marzano Human Resources Consulting will ensure that a company has an employee handbook that will convey to employees what is expected from them and which will mitigate risk to their business.