Employees are the backbone of a company. They are an invaluable resource that can yield productive results to a company. However, finding the right candidates who can fortify the foundation of the organization and deliver results is like finding a needle in a haystack. For long, recruiters have resorted to policies of hiring and rating employees that are paltry. For example, offering a permanent job to a candidate based solely on his performance at the interview. While it may be an idea that is widely accepted, it also has an element of risk, as candidates might fabricate the truth with the veil intention of getting through the interview process in order to secure a job.
A similar policy of rating employees is the “Bell Curve Method of Performance Appraisal.” The fundamental principle with the policy is to plot employees on the normal distribution curve and classify them as top, average, and non-performers. However, the efficacy of the policy has always been a question, and most companies have begun abandoning the policy as it didn’t transpire into achieving desired results.
Employers, nowadays are cautious and have started using the safety net of ‘Probation’ in order to gauge the potential of a candidate.
What is probation period:
Speaking in the parlance of a workplace setting, probation is a temporary status given to the newly hired employees. It is a mutually agreed time period in which a company manager or a supervisor evaluates skills and abilities of the employee. Apart from the skills, there is also a close scrutiny on other attributes of the employee such as work ethic, discipline, reliability and social quotient. However, a probation period is not just a tool for evaluation of new entrants.
Employees who are a part of the organization can too undergo probation on being promoted to a new position. And in some cases, an ex-employee rehired after a long duration of time may undergo probation as well.
Duration of probation period:
Duration of probation is a variable parameter. There are various factors, which are taken into account for deciding the same. Generally, it can last from 30 days to 1 year, but it can be extended in circumstances such as transfer of an employee to a different job, the true potential of the employee not being exposed to the recruiters, if background investigation of employees holding critical position is not ratified, etc.
In most of the cases, evaluation of an employee is undertaken by the supervisory officer, which is conducted in two stages :
Mid probation evaluation
Final probation evaluation
Mid- probation evaluation:
The probation period evaluation takes into account employees’ integration with the company and progress so far. In case of eminent degree of competence displayed by the employee, he is recognized and encouraged to continue working. While if there is a gap in achieving desired competency, shortcomings are discussed and the employee is provided the required support to fill the gap.
Final- probation evaluation:
The manner in which the evaluation is conducted is similar to the former. If the employee has demonstrated a stellar performance on all the levels, a meeting is called one week prior to the end of probation and he is offered a permanent position. On the contrary, if a candidate fails to demonstrate his competency for the role, he is informed at least three weeks prior to the end of his termination. However, these conditions are not the same, and may vary in accordance with the policies of different companies.
Termination of a contract:
Employers are within their rights to terminate an employment contract of employees. The employee is liable for a termination if he fails to deliver on his commitments, lacks the requisite skills to carry out the job, display behavior that is considered unsuitable in order to maintain the social fabric of the company.
In such cases, the employee cannot claim unfair dismissal, because companies do have polices that are supportive of taking actions. However, there are provisions in policies that are incorporated in the employee handbook in cases of unreasonable termination of employees or termination without following the standard protocol. Thus, in case of wrongful dismissal of employees, they are protected under the umbrella of Equality act. Consequently, employers can be required to pay damages if the case is taken to the employment tribunal.
Benefits of probation to the employer:
Probation ensures a comprehensive assessment of the employee. It is an effective way to gauge the potential of the given individual. In business, where a lot of money and reputation are at stake, it is always beneficial on the company’s part to invest their money and resources in an optimal way.
Benefits of probation to the employee:
The benefit of probation is not confined to the employer but also to the employees. Probation is a good medium for the employees to know about their shortcomings. With continuous assessment and a positive feedback mechanism, there is always a room for improvement.
For inexperienced candidates, it is a good avenue to acquire new skills. Also, the training and development that an individual goes during the probation can certainly add value to their existing skill set.
Therefore, probation is an important indenture between an employee and the employer. It is a common practice for companies to hire individuals on probation, test them on various fronts, and impart training so that the entire act collectively adds to the benefit of the company and the employee.