Looking for new talent? Or maybe you’re looking for ways to retain new talent?  Have you considered implementing a probationary period? Not only does a probationary period give employers an idea if a new hire is a good fit for their company, but it also gives new employees a chance to see if the position is something they’d be interested in permanently.  For instance, a recent study by Zippia found that 17% of new hires leave their new job between the first week and third month of being hired. In order to avoid contributing to statistics like these, you may find a probationary period for employees helpful. But what exactly does this involve, and is it right for your business? Continue reading to find out.  

For help reaching your HCM goals, contact us.  

What is a Probationary Period? 

A probationary period for new employees is essentially a trial. It is often referred to as an orientation or training period prior to when the new hire is considered a permanent employee.  

Probationary periods typically last around 90 days, with some as short as 30 days and some as long as six months. This time frame varies based on the training required for the position.  

Many employers will delay health insurance and other employee benefits until after the probationary period has ended.  

At the end of this mutually agreed-upon probationary period, the employer can decide to hire the new employee permanently or let them go.  

Pros of Probationary Periods for Employees  

1 – Improve Your Onboarding Process  

The onboarding process can be greatly improved by implementing a probationary period for employees.  

Providing sufficient training, support, and clear expectations helps to boost confidence, reduce anxiety, and increase the likelihood of retaining new skills effectively.  

You’ll be setting employees up for success right from the start — allowing them to see their new role positively — leading to increased motivation.  

This results in increased productivity and performance, less need for individual management in the long run, and a more positive employee experience.  

2 – Save On Expenses  

As probationary periods for employees are temporary, health insurance and other employee benefits are typically not offered until a formal decision has been made.  

This saves you on expenses that these benefits incur until you decide whether a certain employee is a good fit.  

Some employers even offer a lower salary for the probationary period, which can then be increased upon deciding to hire the employee permanently. This is a cost-saving measure that prevents businesses from overspending on new hires that don’t work out as they had hoped.  

3 – Get Real Employee Feedback  

Probationary periods for employees offer employers the opportunity to receive honest feedback from new members of the team.  

There will always be employees that decide your organization isn’t a good fit for them, as every worker is different. These situations can be learning experiences, encouraging you to evaluate for potential improvements.  

It’s possible that a certain employee not wishing to pursue a permanent position is simply an isolated case, but by offering the opportunity to provide feedback, you’ll notice if patterns start to emerge around similar topics. Then, you can make adjustments accordingly.   

4 – Set Clear Expectations  

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, leading to anxiety and underperformance in an otherwise well-qualified employee.  

Knowing what your expectations are from the start helps to mitigate this pressure, allowing for the training period to go more smoothly and giving you a better idea of their capabilities as permanent hires.  

Implementing probationary periods for employees gives new hires a better chance of success, as expectations are clear from day one.  

They can then learn all they need to perform their job effectively without the unnecessary anxiety and stress that may result from unclear guidance.  

5 – Easier Termination Requirements  

Probationary period agreements for new employees should clearly state the goals and objectives of the orientation and training periods.  

This also allows for a more streamlined termination process in cases where new hires don’t work out.  

Probationary periods decrease your need for the excessive documentation that is often required for terminations, as the agreement clearly stated that the employee would be considered on a temporary basis.  

This ultimately results in less work for you, as well as less confusion for the employee.    

Cons of Probationary Periods for Employees 

1 – Compliance Violations  

It’s important to ensure that the probationary period you implement is compliant with state and federal employment laws beforehand to avoid accidental violations. 

Employment law penalties can result in serious (and expensive) consequences. 

On a separate note, probationary periods that vary between employees are subject to being called out for discrimination.  

Ensuring that every new hire gets the same probationary agreement is essential to avoid this. Although, an exception to this would be if you hire an employee with a disability that requires specific accommodation.   

2 – Increases New Employee Pressure to Perform  

It could be argued that while probationary periods for employees set clear expectations from the start, they might also increase the pressure to perform to a higher standard.  

If a new hire suspects that their position is in jeopardy from the very beginning, it could result in anxiety or un
necessary stress.  

Depending on the employee, this may lead to decreased performance, causing you to discount them as an asset to your organization.  

Conversely, employees may perform at a higher level, in the beginning, only to relax back to a mediocre performance level once they feel their position is secure.  

3 – Lowers Morale  

Bringing new hires onboard under temporary conditions may have a less-than-desirable impact on their morale.  

This can be attributed to the feeling of insecurity in their position, the above-mentioned increased pressure to perform, or simply feeling like an outsider in a pre-established community of permanent workers.  

Making new hires feel like part of a team has a positive effect on their performance, as well as increasing the likelihood of job satisfaction.  

Probationary periods for employees can still achieve this, though it’s less likely to happen than it would be for permanent new hires.  

4 – Easily Confused Contractual Agreements  

Probationary periods for employees are subject to confusion on the part of the new hire, especially when they’re not explained clearly at the time of hiring.  

Contracts are often glossed over by employees that are eager to begin work, leading to less than amicable terminations in the event that they’re not hired permanently.  

This confusion can usually be avoided by being explicit with probationary period details upon signing the contract agreement, though it may require extra effort on the employer’s part. 

5 – Unattractive to Potential New Talent  

Probationary periods for employees are unattractive to some workers, causing them to avoid applying to your organization altogether.  

They may feel that a probationary period is unnecessary according to their particular skill set, want to avoid the additional pressure, or simply need more job security.  

Whatever the reason for their aversion, the result is the same: your pool for potential new talent may shrink.  

This causes you to miss out on the possibility of hiring skilled employees for your organization and limits your choices.  

For helpful tips on creating an environment for improved talent acquisition, check out our video on how to attract better workers

Final Thoughts 

Determining whether new hires are a good fit for your organization can be difficult, which is why a probationary period for employees can be so helpful.  

Getting to know employees before offering permanent positions can save you time and money while decreasing the risk of hiring underperformers. 

However, there are also risks involved when implementing a probationary period for employees, so take the pros and cons in this article into consideration when determining whether a probationary period is a good fit for your business. 

 If you’d like to speak to an HR representative about your business, contact us.  

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