Probation periods – do they benefit the employer or employee?
More recently, probation periods have become common practice in employment and written within the employment contract. These trial periods, which we recommend last 6 months, serve as a transitional phase during which both employers and employees assess whether the job is a good fit. The question remains, do probation periods primarily benefit the employer or the employee?
From the employer perspective:
- Skill assessment – Probation periods allow employers to evaluate an employee’s skills and performance in a real-world context. This period helps in verifying if the employee can meet the job requirements effectively.
- Cultural fit – Assessing how well an employee integrates into the company’s culture is vital. A probation period allows employers to observe an individual’s adaptability, teamwork, and alignment with the company’s values.
- Risk mitigation – Employers can minimize the risk of hiring the wrong candidate. If an employee does not meet expectations during the probationary period, termination is often easier and less costly.
- Flexibility – Probation periods provide flexibility for employers to make changes quickly if needed. This can be especially beneficial in industries with rapidly changing demands.
- Training and development – Employers can invest in employee training and development during the probation period, ensuring that new hires, acquire the skills necessary for long-term success in the role.
- Legal protection – In some cases, probation periods offer legal protections to employers, in that it is much easier and cleaner to exit someone on the grounds of performance if issues arise during this phase – we would encourage you to explore whether there are misconduct or discrimination risks and seek advice before taking action.
From the employee perspective
- Skill enhancement – Probation periods offer employees a chance to learn new skills and adapt to the job requirements. This can be particularly valuable for those transitioning into a new field.
- Job exploration – Employees can use this period to explore whether the job aligns with their career goals and interests. It is an opportunity to assess if the company is the right fit for their long-term career path.
- Feedback and improvement – Constructive feedback provided during probation can help employees improve their performance. It is a valuable learning experience that can benefit their professional growth.
- Job security – While probation may seem precarious, it can provide a sense of job security once successfully completed. Employees who pass probation are often seen as valuable assets to the company.
I guess it’s a trick question, in that probation periods are advantageous for both the employer and the employee. However, the balance between the benefits may vary depending on individual circumstances. Employers gain the opportunity to assess skills and culture fit while minimising risks, and employees have a chance to enhance their skills, explore job fit, and receive valuable feedback. It is essential for both parties to approach probation periods with transparency, communication, and clear expectations to ensure a mutually beneficial experience. Ultimately, a well-structured probation period can lead to a stronger and more successful employment relationship for all parties involved.
We have recently written and presented a Bitesize 30-minute training session specifically for line managers and business owners, which provides you with detailed information on how to manage probation periods. You can now purchase this session and we offer a 20% discount for existing client – please contact us here for more details.