Employers spend a large amount of time and resources during the recruitment process so it can be extremely disappointing when a new recruit decides to leave the job within the first few months of starting, often because they have not settled well into the role.
Although a common part of the employment contract, probation periods are regularly not utilised fully by the employer and in some cases probation meetings have simply become a disciplinary tool.
Effective employee support throughout the probation period can reduce the odds of a new recruit leaving the organisation prematurely. Here we provide some advice on how to successfully use the probation period to support and retain new employees.
Make yourself accessible to the employee
The first day should not be the only opportunity the employee gets to meet one on one with the manager in the first few months of starting. Regular meetings should be conducted throughout the probation period to discuss the employee’s progression and set up any support that may be needed.
Many new employees will not feel comfortable going to their manager with problems or issues, providing regular meetings gives the employee a secure environment to raise any concerns.
Prepare for the meeting
To get the most out of the meeting it is important that the manager prepares for it. Review the employee’s work prior to the meeting; identify where they are performing well and what things they may need to improve on.
Tailored feedback should be given to the employee about their performance. It is a good time to discuss what improvements need to be made. This ensures the employee knows what is expected from them and is also a great opportunity to nip bad working habits in the bud.
At the meeting, identify if any technical training is needed to support the employee in their role. It is important to remember the employee is coming into a new organisation with different systems, databases and likely a different way of doing things. On the job training or more formal training for I.T. systems may be required.
Remember a probation meeting is not a disciplinary hearing
During the meeting the manager should ensure they ask open ended questions to enable the employee to engage. The manager should listen actively to what the employee has to say.
The aim should be to support the employee. Rome was not built in a day; it may take a little time for the employee to get up to speed with the role. An agreed action plan can work well, listing tasks to be completed by a particular date or by the date of the next meeting.
Keep a record of progress
It is good practice to record what was said and agreed in each meeting and have it signed by the employee to confirm it is accurate. The record will double up as an excellent record of performance when the probation period comes to an end and will assist should the manager encounter any conduct issues.
The successful completion of the probation period should be formally recorded and the employee should be advised (and congratulated) accordingly. Any feedback from the employee at this stage will aid management in future recruitment.
If it has not worked out
Probationary periods do provide a distinct period for termination of employment. Contracts of employment should include the right to extend the probationary period if the employer wants a further period of time to assess suitability or doubts still exist, and should also include the right to terminate during/ at the end of the probationary period on minimal notice.