The probationary period is defined as a time given to new employees in an organization to evaluate their suitability for the hired position. It helps the manager or the supervisor to understand whether the hired employee has the necessary skills and know-how to function at his best.
A probationary period is a blessing in disguise as it offers the manager a more in-depth insight about important characteristics like reliability and honesty along with how the new employee interacts with his peers, colleagues and most importantly clients and customers.
It also allows the employees to test the water and know whether he will be able to adjust in his new settings.
Understanding the probationary period
The probationary period is not the same in every company as it is dependent on the requirements of the job. The so-called minimum period is at least a week, and it can extend up to thirty days. In some scenarios, it can last from several months to a few years, although the probationary level will change as time flies by.
The rules and regulations related to probationary period are clearly defined in the employee’s handbook of the company. It is a guideline that is given to every employee when he joins in so that he can know the company in a better manner.
It is a clause written in the employee contract that sets out the specific terms of his probation period. It includes the period it will last and the method of assessing whether the employee is suitable for the job or not.
Employees working during the probationary period are paid a salary. Still, in most cases, it is less than the one a permanent employee gets and that too, without the related benefits and perks attached to it. Government jobs have fixed salaries during this period, but the private sector is very flexible.
It is best for the employee to confirm his probation period salary and also talk about other benefits during the hiring process to avoid any misunderstandings later on.
Reasons to complete a probationary period
The reasons to complete a probationary period are as follows-
1. Make an informed decision
The probationary period is a time when both the employer and employee can make informed decisions. The employee can weigh the pros and cons of the job, and the employer can determine whether the employee is a perfect fit for his company or not.
2. Develop skills
The probationary period is a great time and opportunity to learn about the company and pick up the skills that are required for the job position
3. Improve performances
A critical reason to complete a probationary period is that it will help in improving the performance of the employee. By the end of his term, he will become efficient at handling his work.
4. Demonstrate existing skills and know-how
Think about the probationary period as a chance to show off your existing skills and knowledge. Demonstrate your strengths and highlight your abilities by meeting deadlines and responsibly handling workloads.
5. To achieve long-term goals
The probationary period is a stepping stone for a full-time job opportunity. The reason why employees stick to it is that they want to become permanent members of the firm and attain the benefits attached to a secured job position.
Tips for good use of the probationary period
A probationary period is a golden chance to determine whether the organization is not making a mistake and hiring the most suitable person for the job. It is an opportunity to ensure that the employee has the necessary zeal and skill to adapt to his position with aplomb.
Some tips for successful use of the probationary period from the viewpoint of an employer are as follows-
1. Make your expectations clear
If a company is interested in hiring an employee on a probationary period, then it is imperative to notify him about all the rules and regulations before hiring.
How long will the probationary status last and what are the goals to achieve to prove his efficiency and suitability for the job are essential queries that need to be addressed beforehand?
Make your expectations clear and tell him about the performance milestones that he has to reach to become a permanent employee in your firm.
2. Give him time
Make sure that the employee has enough time to prove his worth in the organization.
If the employee has potential but is struggling in his initial days, then extend his probationary period.
Take the help of the HR department and ensure that the employee is given a fair chance to turn things in his favour.
3. Offer regular feedback
Do not wait for the last day to conduct a review and make a judgment call on the performance of the employee who is on a probationary period.
Make sure that he is periodically reviewed and offered feedback so that he can make changes as per the need of the hour.
4. Offer help
The HR department must have seen something in the employee to hire him hence offer help if he is having some issues. Provide details about his performance and mark the areas where he is lacking.
Offer training if necessary so that he can improve and become an essential asset for your company.
5. Assign a mentor
A meaningful way to help an employee in his probationary period is by assigning him an experienced mentor.
Make sure he is knowledgeable enough to offer impartial advice and that his guiding hand proves a blessing for the recruit.
6. Document everything
It is better to have proper documentation to safeguard your organization in case the employee is not able to meet the set expectations.
If the company decides to terminate the relationship and the disgruntled employee decides on a legal course, then the documentation will be a proof of the unsuitability of the employee in the hired position and leave the organization on safe, legitimate grounds.
Some tips for successful use of the probationary period from the viewpoint of an employee are as follows
If you aim to stick in your job position, then remain focused during the probationary period. This is a perfect time to observe and learn from your surroundings without the actual pressure of the job. Keep your eyes and ears open, observe and absorb.
Become familiar with the work culture, code of conduct, rules and regulations, and the behavior and the mode of interaction of the employees in the company. Pay attention to peers, colleagues and superiors so that it will be a help when you are interacting with them later on.
2. Be positive
The initial days in any workplace are bound to be turbulent but do not despair and maintain your positivity. A healthy attitude is a useful tool that will help you in overcoming the teething problems at the beginning.
It is a fact that the employer will keep a vigilant eye on your movements. Keep in mind the bigger picture and turn this opportunity into a blessing. Be positive and show your best side to make a good impression on everyone.
3. Give it your best shot
Once you overcome your fear and uncertainties remember that it is a golden opportunity for you. Give it your best shot and make good impressions on your peer, colleagues and employer.
Take initiatives, show enthusiasm for your position, dress appropriately, reach your office on time, stay organized, be polite and interact confidently if you want to cash in the available opportunity.
4. Make connections
Establish a good rapport with your colleagues and senior workers if you want to survive in the company. Build a viable network by making connections. Stay away from office politics as it might prove detrimental to your chances of succeeding in the probationary period.
5. Keep track of your progress
Be proactive and maintain a planner in the probationary period. It will prove a guiding hand and keep you on track.
As soon as you achieve a specific goal, the feeling of accomplishment will nudge you further towards your objective.
6. Be open to feedback
It is imperative to receive viable feedbacks at regular intervals. Remember the employer is communicating his thoughts via the feedbacks hence take it constructively.
Motivate yourself to make changes and do better so that you can make a success of your probationary period and become a permanent employee in the company henceforth.
Advantages of the probationary period
The advantages of having a probationary period are as follows –
- Encourages hard work from the onset because the employee will have to give his best if he wants to make the cut and become a permanent member of the company
- Helps to manage the expectations of the employee and set behavioral examples from the beginning
- Provides a clear framework to the employees so that he can work hard to meet the set expectations
- It is cost-effective to part with an employee who is not fit for the job than hiring him permanently and later dismissing him
- The employee gets a chance to see whether he will be able to adjust in the new settings
- The employee gets detailed feedback during this period which will assist in making changes for a better future
- The probationary period leads to a permanent job with the perks and benefits attached to a full-time job position
Disadvantages of the probationary period
The disadvantages of having a probationary period are as follows –
- One of the disadvantages of a probationary period is that the employee does not get the salary given to a full-time employee nor is he liable for the benefits attached to a permanent position
- Medical benefits are significant for an employee, but he is not eligible for it during the probationary period
- It is not easy to be the point of focus, and the thought of being continuously evaluated can prove stressful
- Probationary period means that your job position is not secure and this feeling can lead to anxiety and stress
- Probationary periods lowers the morale of an employee and can lead to low efficiency and performance because of a drop in their confidence level
- Probationary period creates legal risks in places where the option of employment-at-will already exists
- Applicants will hesitate to apply for a job in a company that has a probationary period because the guarantee of employment is less. It hurts the company’s reputation as it indicates that the firm is not confident of its hiring choices.
The probationary period is a two-way street where both the employer and employee have the necessary time to decide whether a long-term association will prove beneficial for both the employer and the employee.