6 Tips for Managing Probationary Employees Effectively

August 26, 201610:39 am5991 views

Hiring new candidates to join the current workforce is indeed expensive. Working on job advertisements, screening through stacks of resumes, conducting interviews and onboarding are some stages, wherein intervention of HR managers is crucial to identify, recruit and train the right talent.

Instead of offering permanent employment contract for the new hire to form a long-term association with the company, employers generally prefer to buy some time to gauge talent and skillsets of the new hire, before offering a permanent position.

The time sought by employers and organisations alike, between absorption of new employee into the current permanent workforce and understanding their skills for the job role is called, ‘The probationary period.’

See also: Top Four Common Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Most employers prefer to use probationary period as the preliminary process to understand employees’ skills and then offer them a suitable job role.

Three to six months trial period is generally provided to employees to prove their mettle for the job role selected. This time period is enough for employers to arrive at a critical business decision on whether to absorb the new talent into the workforce as a permanent employee, or choose to terminate them.

During the probationary period, employers, supervisors and HR managers work in sync to understand employees’ potentials, capabilities and skill competencies for the job role and how well they can work in a team.

The way employees’ execute their regular duties and time management of tasks proves to be valuable input for employers, to determine if the new hire is best suited for the job role and cultural fit.

HR managers and supervisors alike share the onus of responsibility to determine the success of a probationary period. They need to be alert, cautious and objectively assess the new hires’ performance during the trial period. Here are six tips for managers to effectively manage probationary talent:

  • Provide regular feedback and assistance. New employees, especially fresh graduates are still new to the workplace and require more assistance in executing their job roles. Rather than presetting benchmarks of excellence for the new hires, employers should provide adequate support, assistance and consistent feedback to help employees improve their skills during the trial period. They must be open to understand employee concerns and issues during the probationary period, the challenges faced and seek for immediate resolution. On-the-job-training and mentoring candidates are two ways by which organisations can help them assimilate into the new workplace culture, improve on their skills and grow.
  • Withhold permanent employee benefits. During the probationary period, employers have right to withhold some of the permanent employee benefits offered to the new hires. For employees, this can be quite a challenging period to prove their best at work every day and be a consistent performer. During this phase, employer’s buy time to gauge performance of the talented employee and thereafter retain them as a part of the permanent workforce.
  • Set clear goals and expectations. Setting clear goals and expectations from the new employee during the probationary period would help them adopt a focused approach towards work, adapt themselves easily to new work environment and meet expectations. With a clear framework assigned to the new hire, monitoring and reviewing their progress, understanding their strengths and weaknesses on job, becomes quite easy. Employers are then able to determine the most-appropriate training and mentorship programs to help these new talents, level up their skills and meet industry expectations.
  • Assign a mentor. A helpful and friendly mentor is a must for new employees to improve on their performance and maximise productivity during the probationary period. Providing a mentor can help new employees to exchange ideas, share experiences, ask for clarifications in case of doubts with coworkers, and not impact the daily productive workings of a team.
  • Make the best decision. During the probationary period, employers along with HR manager and supervisor should make the best, objective measurement of an employee’s drive, passion and performance in the job role. When certain employees take more time to adjust and adapt to the new style of company workings, employers should allow them the leverage and extend their probationary period to allow more time for learning and development. However, if the employee still continues to underperform during the extended time period of probation, employers can then choose to terminate the new hire and seek for other suitable candidates for the job role.
  • Offer suitable training program to upgrade knowledge and skills. Some employees do possess desired traits, skills and great attitude towards the job role, however they lack the skills to match industry standards. To address this concern, employers can conduct on-the-job training programs or organise brief workshop to help employees improve and upgrade their skills. While investment into training programs and workshops can prove to be bit expensive, employers will be able to derive RoI on the new hire through better performance at work in the near times.

Managing new talent effectively during the probation period requires patience, time, investments and efforts to train the new workforce to meet the job requirements and industry expectations. However, through careful planning and coordination between the senior management and HR managers, strategies can be worked out to make probation period easy for new hires.

Next read: HRs to Note: Appraisal Mismanagement

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